Latest Event Updates

reading “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” by John P. Kotter

Posted on

If you ask me if I have experience leading change successfully, I’ll tell you “yes” without hesitation. And if you ask me whether I’ve ever been flummoxed as I’ve tried to lead change, I will also say “yes” without hesitation. It turns out that leading change is trickier from the position of dean than it was from the position of department chair or faculty leader. It turns out I have a thing or two to learn about leading change successfully.

Luckily, I’m all about ongoing growth and learning. And, luckily, I work at a university that’s chock full of people with all kinds of expertise they’re willing to share. So last week I ended up meeting with three faculty experts: Michel Baranczyk (organizational psychology), George Hale (public administration), and Marco Ehrl (political communication).

I learned a lot from my three colleagues and will work on implementing change with their wise counsel shaping my approaches, but what I’m going to follow up on here is a reading George Hale sent after our conversation.

“Leading Change” by John P. Kotter. He gets at 8 things to do to lead change successfully.

I’m immediately intrigued because the study is on corporations trying “to make fundamental changes in how business is conducted in order to help cope with a new, more challenging market environment” (Kotter 96). Yes, higher ed is not a corporation, but the rest of it is right on.

So. Here are the 8 steps.

  1. Establish a sense of urgency

    In the case of universities facing a demographic cliff in terms of traditional student population numbers, that’s where the urgency stems from. A lot of faculty may not feel the urgency. I’m not sure how to make that happen. We have data that will help. Maybe I can also provide them with sources because faculty often like to read the research themselves (at least I always did when I was faculty).

    What I really like in this section is the distinction between being a good manager (someone who will “minimize risk and keep the current system operating”) versus being a leader. A leader can see when and where change is needed, share that with other stakeholders, and inspire movement by showing that the unknown is better than continuing with the status quo.
  2. Create a strong guiding coalition

    For me, the guiding coalition is less straightforward than in the article because I need approval from above and buy-in from faculty, especially chairs who are campus leaders. This part is making me think about appropriate people and groups at different points in the change process. I have some ideas about gathering possibilities before moving forward. It’s not easy, figuring this out. I’m going to come back to this one.
  3. Develop a vision

    I love vision work. That’s partly what I want to develop with chairs and faculty in the College–a vision of what it will mean for our College to be strong, healthy, and effective in the current environment (well, current and future environments, really). The particular change we need to address in the near future is restructuring to have a stronger, healthier, and more effective program array (that is, the programs we offer as majors, minors, certificates, and so forth).

    The vision needs to be clear and compelling–something that can be shared quickly and picked up by others with some consistency.
  4. Communicate the vision

    What’s needed is “all existing communication channels” utilized to “broadcast the vision.” That includes framing smaller discussions in terms of the overall vision, using newsletters and internal communication to follow up, and fully embrace the vision as a leader so that it’s not something extra but rather integral to everyday work.
  5. Remove obstacles to the vision

    Stakeholders from across the organization should be empowered to contribute to the vision, so when they try to do so, if they run into roadblocks, those roadblocks need to be addressed. Otherwise, it’s super tough to continue working for that vision.

    I’ve been on that side of things. Working for something and feeling like my hands were cuffed behind my back. It’s frustrating.

    I want to avoid that happening to people. I also see it as a huge challenge because so many things are beyond my control. But I do need to control and influence what I can to enable people to do good work. If I’m not climbing on board and supporting people in doing what I’ve asked, they will grow cynical pretty quickly, as well they should.

  6. Plan and celebrate short-term wins

    I’m all about this one, too. Let’s break things into steps and recognize when we’re moving forward and what that looks like.

  7. See it all the way through as an ongoing vision

    It’s tempting to get to a certain threshold and then stop. I get that. You think, Okay, we did it. We can finally rest. But there’s always more to be done when you’re talking about realizing a vision, and thinking you’re done prematurely means things will be a bit of a mess, with a kinda-sorta commitment to the original vision that could actually end up worse than where you started.

    My general orientation is one of ongoing growth with maybe tiny periods of hibernation or dormancy. In terms of building a vision, I guess I see one vision giving way to another vision as situations shift. Right?
  8. Anchor changes in the culture

    I love this part: “Change sticks when it becomes ‘the way we do things around here.” Yup.

    But there’s more. First, show how the shifts have helped improve things. Second, when there’s turnover in key positions, make sure the people coming in are into the visionary leadership that’s been happening.

That’s it. A good article. None of it is easy. And that’s how it closes. “In reality, even successful change efforts are messy and full of surprises.” So it’s okay when things are messy. But it’s silly to ignore the research that can help things go better. Why not minimize errors as much as we can and put our energy into the things that can make a difference?

Good advice all around. And three fantastic faculty at my school who helped me with some of the initial details.

my hissing cat

Posted on

I have two cats I adopted from a friend. Kitty is a black and white calico, and Professor is an orange tabby. Although they occasionally had small conflicts, until this past spring their typical behavior involved cuddling and grooming each other and generally being adorable together.

One day, seemingly out of the blue, Professor hissed at Kitty, and then the two of them chased and yowled. Not like normal chasing and yowling. No. It was more like chasing and howling associated with the bowels of hell. It was terrible. For about six months or longer, this behavior happened fairly regularly, sometimes being the default dynamic when the two cats were together and sometimes being an unusual and momentary conflict.

When it was at first a consistent dynamic, I did what any current day pet owner does when an animal behaves strangely: I turned to the google to help me deal with an extremely stressful and disconcerting situation. And I discovered, much to my surprise, that Professor’s hissing behavior was not aggressive as I had assumed but was, rather, a defensive behavior, signaling that he felt threatened in some way.


Furthermore, even though we might just think, “Let the animals figure it out without human intervention,” my friend Google said the behavior was more likely to worsen and lead to injury if I ignored it.

I followed lots and lots of advice to address the situation, and over time what worked was a combination of interventions. (If you don’t have cats in this predicament, you can just skip this paragraph because it’s really not the point of why I’m writing.) Professor has an eye pressure issue that was likely causing pain, so I dealt with that. I ordered pheromone diffusers to promote calm feelings. And I installed baby gates so Professor didn’t have to worry about Kitty being in his space. I did more things, too. It’s ridiculous the number of things I tried, honestly, to the point of being embarrassing. But it’s hard to feel peaceful if the cats are hissing and yowling, so I kept doing what I could so they would be happy and healthy and get along more often than not.

Why am I taking the time to write about all this cat stuff? It’s not because I’m a crazy cat lady, although a few people have begun to describe me in such a way.

It’s because it helped for me to understand Professor’s behavior as defensive. My initial framing positioned Professor as a bully and Kitty as the victim of Professor’s seemingly irrational and unpredictable wrath. That framing was not going to help me improve the situation. Instead, I needed to understand that Professor felt threatened so I could check his physical health and make sure he had an environment that felt safe to him. That way I protected both him and Kitty.

Kitty has seemed sad and lonely to me during the times when Prof has been volatile, so I’ve also given her extra attention. Maybe I’m projecting and she doesn’t care at all when he’s grouchy, but I figure I should be extra nice to her, the one who appears to be an innocent victim of Prof’s aggression, to whatever degree I can.

That’s it. Those are my insights. Sometimes the ones who are acting out are doing so because they feel threatened; dealing with the situation may thus involve helping the aggressive one’s environment shift in several ways to create a “safe mode” or “safe abode” or whatever. And dealing with the aggressive one does’t mean the recipient of the aggression is ignored. Rather, being there for them and making sure they feel safe and cared for matters, too.

That’s what my cats have made me think about this past year. How to move from a stressful situation full of discord and yowling to a nurturing environment with cuddles and peace.

Now I just need to figure out how to keep the cat hair from getting everywhere…..

right message at the right time

Posted on

A couple weeks ago I had a really good lunch with Leslie and Amy in the middle of my workday. By “really good lunch,” I mean I was in excellent company. People who are open, honest, kind–they are my kind of people, and I try to hang out with such folks as often as I can.

Soon after, Leslie wrote an insightful and reflective blog post and shared the link on FaceBook, and that led me to purchase the book The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman.

And that leads me to this morning. As I ate breakfast, I read Chapter 5 about being open to following a path based on small signs rather than knowing the entire way and end goal and so forth, a chapter that made me remember my own blog post about driving in the fog and trusting I would get where I needed to be (a blog post my colleague-friend Julie reminded me of recently because that’s a lesson I need to hear on repeat).

And then I read Chapter 6, and this is the part that I was like YES. This is what I need to hear, right here, right now.

All beginnings, no matter what they are, hold elements of both joy and heartbreak….Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Be relentlessly kind to yourself.

-Emily P. Freeman

I have a week left in my current role, Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and then I’ll be Interim Dean, a role that carries a lot more responsibility and leadership. I want the role. I’m excited about it. I think I’ll be good at it. But I am also a beginner in the role, with a lot to learn. That can be hard.

Honestly, I think I’m better at accepting learning curves than a lot of people, partly because I’ve readily done things that I’m not naturally good at, like learning dance routines or tae kwon do or how to skip rocks. I look and feel foolish as I learn that kind of thing, and I’m okay with that. I think I’m awesome for enjoying the learning. When it comes to work, I have more confidence and ability, and I think I’m pretty patient with myself as I figure new things out.

But I guess the other piece, the other reason for me having some anxiety as I become a beginner again, is that I went through a period of massive upheaval and change just a few years ago with divorce and new jobs and moving several times. Not to mention my kids growing up and my mom dying. I think I’m holding onto some heartbreak that is reactivated by new times of transition, even when the transition is a good one.

I lost some trust in myself during those times of change, too.

I feel my anxiety in my body and in my thoughts. I’m doing a lot of bracing myself and a lot of questioning every moment, every movement.

I visited my therapist Michele a week ago and she helped me with some advice for morning routines and some ways to reframe. I guess what I’m adding on to Michele’s advice right here, right now, is what was sparked by those lines about beginnings. And saying what’s going on with me, well, it helps me respond to myself. Here’s a bit of my inner dialogue, giving voice to my spiraling fearful mind and answers from my reassuring pep talk wisdom side.

Spiral: Change is scary.

Answer: Yes. And you can do it well because you have both faced and embraced change with grace so many times already.

Spiral: I’ve made mistakes in the past. What if I make more mistakes?

Answer: Oh, you will make more mistakes. And you will be accountable and you will grow, and this is the way of life. You have done it before and you will do it again.

Spiral: What if people think I’m doing a terrible job?

Answer: What people think about you is not your concern. Your concern is doing the work well and living the mantra of ongoing improvement, with that improvement coming from gentle self-correction, not debilitating self-criticism.

Plus, haven’t you noticed how many awesome people you’ve surrounded yourself with?
And don’t you realize that most people are far more concerned with their own lives than with yours? Chill.

Spiral: What if work eats me alive the way it felt like it was doing before I became a full-time administrator?

Answer: Your key words for this period of your life are integrity, intention, and boundaries. You have been learning to live them. This is your next great challenge. You may not get it perfectly, but I think you’re ready to figure it out.

Spiral: This is going to be hard.

Answer: Yup. As Glennon Doyle says, “We can do hard things.”

Spiral: I think it’s also going to be fun. Interesting. With lots of laughter and moments of joy.

Answer: Wait a minute. I think you just took on my role!

Spiral and Answer: *laugh together*


Here’s my mom being a bookmark to help me along my journey:

And here’s Chris Hemsworth because he inspires in his own awesome way:

dog on the turnpike

Posted on

Yesterday while I was driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I saw something small and critter-like moving up ahead on the roadway. I slowed to look. A squirrel? a fox? what??

It was a dog. A small dog. Someone’s pet dog. And it was frantically running, mostly on the berm next to the left lane, mostly heading against the direction of traffic. I say “mostly” because the frantic running–well, it wasn’t exactly a straight line or a predictable pattern that was directing the running. It was just panic. That dog could be anywhere at any moment.

I quickly ran through options. Could I pull over? Help the dog? Intervene? No, no, no. I would make the situation more dangerous because I had no means of dealing with turnpike traffic, and the dog didn’t know me, and I just didn’t have the resources to make the situation better. I did, however, look at the mile marker so I could be a little helpful.

I called 911, and they patched me through to a turnpike service, so I issued the report. During this call, I drove by a car that had pulled into the breakdown lane, so I also mentioned this car when talking to the turnpike dispatcher. Hopefully, I said, it is the owner of the dog that’s pulled over about a half mile past where I saw the dog running.

And then I drove on. I don’t know what happened to that little dog running frantically on the turnpike.

But as I drove, I thought about how easy it was to relate to that little dog, running in a panic. I thought about moments I’ve felt like that, and I cried a little as I identified with that dog.

I also thought about how rarely I’ve actually been in situations that are at all like this dog’s situation. Feeling like that dog and actually being in the situation–well, those are two different things. Noticing that difference between perceptions and reality can be super helpful when I need to reframe a challenging situation or pause and assess before responding. Sometimes I am filled with anxiety and nervousness, but usually these feelings are misaligned with what I’m actually facing.

I chatted with my therapist, Michele, about it this morning. She added to my observations. She asked me what age I felt like when empathizing with the dog, and I couldn’t exactly answer that, but the feeling is one of lacking control and understanding and thus moving in a kind of terror. I associate all of those qualities with a child waking during the night from a bad dream. Michele was implying that I’m a pretty strong and competent adult who has plenty of control and understanding of my life, so I don’t tend to move in blind terror or panic, and I don’t face situations that warrant such reactions.

She also said, “Laurie, think about the helpers.” She talked about my call to the turnpike authorities, the turnpike workers who are equipped to help, and the car pulled over in the breakdown lane. “That dog was in a terrible situation, but the dog wasn’t dealing with it alone.”

While driving, I had thought about that dog running frantically on the turnpike being representative of the human condition. Yes, indeed, sometimes life feels overwhelming and we move blindly in our fear and panic with no real understanding of what is happening or what we are supposed to be doing.

But maybe also being in the car and calling for help is the human condition, and being a turnpike worker with the right tools and strategies to intervene effectively is the human condition, and the family hoping the dog is going to be okay but with very little power to do anything about it is the human condition, and all my writing and thinking and reflecting on that little dog and us little humans is also the human condition.

I don’t really know. I just know that seeing a small pet dog run frantically on the Pennsylvania Turnpike is upsetting, and I really do hope that dog is all right and that most of us, most of the time, are neither in a comparable situation nor feeling like we are in a comparable situation. And if it’s the latter, that we quickly realize our misperceptions, feel grateful for the resources and supports we have, and end up behaving the ways dogs do in their most awesome (rather than most terrified) moments.

healing Joseph

Posted on Updated on

I’m not very religious and am definitely no longer Catholic (the faith tradition I was raised in) or even Christian, but I’m partial to manger scenes.

I actually strongly dislike manger scenes when they give Jesus yellow hair and blue eyes, but any manger scenes that remind us to care for the most vulnerable among us, that remind us to figure out and follow our priorities like the wise people, that connect everyday laborers with divinity, and that show how people live in relation to other animals and the natural world—well, those are scenes I appreciate any time of year.

So I arrived at my dad’s house Christmas Eve, and he had done an impressive job with holiday decorating, especially considering his sore leg. I was especially happy to see a lovely ceramic manger on a side table, and I went over to switch the light on so the scene would be illuminated…

…only to find that Joseph’s head had fallen off! And the manger scene was more like something out of a horror movie, a tall headless figure looming over Mary, who knelt by baby Jesus in his tiny makeshift crib.

“Dad! Mary is headless,” I said, because I was not very observant when first looking at the scene. He corrected me. Duh. It was Joseph, not Mary, who had lost his head.

“Okay, well, I think we need to fix Joseph,” I said. I asked my dad where I could find glue. I then went on a hunt, looking by the laundry area and then by the workbench in the basement. The best I found was Elmer’s glue. I tried it. I tried to reattach Joseph’s head. I smeared glue around, I held it in place, I kept applying pressure. And eventually it was obvious: I was not going to repair Joseph’s head with the glue I had found.

I started poking around in a secretary in the dining room, hoping to find other viable fastening materials. I found duct tape (or is it duck tape? such a tricky word) and thought: maybe I can fold this back around on itself and it will work out. I gave it a go. It was a failure.

I poked in the same drawer some more. And I found some white cloth-style tape. Eureka. I started with a tiny strip and wound it around where Joseph’s head met his neck. Hmmm. Not bad. I tore off another piece and wrapped it around, making Joseph more secure. We’re getting there. And again, small piece by small piece, until Joseph looked appropriately decked out and his head was once again firmly attached to his body.

I showed my dad the result. I think he was happy, so I put Joseph in the manger, being careful not to bump him in any way, and I adjusted Mary and Jesus and the donkey. It’s not much, this fixing of Joseph, this shift from a comical horror-style manger scene with headless Joseph to the traditional version with Joseph doing his best to keep his head on no matter what comes his way. But the task somehow feels satisfying, like cleaning out a drawer or shoveling a pathway. A small gesture toward order, a humble move toward integrity. Not offering a room at the inn or saving the world or anything grand, but, hey, doing what we can with the tools we have on hand.

ceramic Joseph figurine with a roll of tape
ceramic manger scene illuminated

Reading “Leadership in Higher Education”

Posted on Updated on

I’m doing some intensive thinking about transitioning to an interim academic dean role, and today I talked with the current dean, my boss, a bit about how I see my role for the spring semester. I do not want to be a placeholder interim dean. I want to do the necessary work to keep things running and I want to play a meaningful role in growth–not “growth” in terms of getting bigger but “growth” in terms of an orientation toward ongoing improvement.

Coincidentally, I’m also engaged in the HERS Leadership Institute and figuring out my Leadership Project associated with that institute. I started drafting a clearer idea of what that might look like today, and, I have to say: I’m super interested in the work, to the degree that I’m now working after hours because I’m interested in what’s possible.

So my initial framing is about burnout studies, and I’m thinking about how to reduce exhaustion, help people in my college feel connected to one another and to the overall direction of the university, and clarify to people the results of their labor and input. These three goals are related to the three dimensions of burnout, and they also are connected with DEI, alignment with the university’s strategic plan, and overall questions of institutional and personal health.

My library search of info on strategies to combat burnout in higher ed led to a just-released book that the library is now procuring for me, and I also happened upon Leadership in Higher Education: Practices that Make a Difference by Jim M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner (2019).

So here are some notes! so that I can process as I read.

“Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership”

Kouzes and Posner say anyone can be a leader, and I love that. I’m in a leadership book group with people from across the university in a variety of roles, and that’s part of the premise–we can all be leaders.

  1. Model the Way
  2. Inspire a Shared Vision
  3. Challenge the Process
  4. Enable Others to ACt
  5. Encourage the Heart

And almost immediately the writing connects to burnout studies and my goals, even though the authors don’t make the connection. They explain that the five practices listed here lead to direct reports feeling “valued by their organizations” and “personally effective,” aware that they “are making a difference” (5). That’s exactly what I’m aiming for. Exactly.

So here’s a bit more about each of the 5 practices.

Model the Way: Be clear about your values–know them, articulate them, practice them. Don’t ask others to do anything you aren’t willing to do.

Inspire a Shared Vision: What’s funny is that the vision I’m hoping to inspire is one in which we do good things–really good things–in healthy ways.

Challenge the Process: Here’s what’s cool and what I think I’m reasonably good at–a leader often recognizes and champions the ideas of others by listening and moving forward. Indeed, that’s why I’m reading. I want to be inspired. I also hope my initial ideas will be just seedlings and that more possibilities will develop over time as others see ways we can make things work better. The other thing that helps me with this piece is the approach of design thinking, with a bias toward action, with initial prototypes being revised in subsequent iterations so change happens incrementally with room for redirection.

Enable Others to Act: Sometimes I’m really good about this and sometimes I take the reins too much. So one of my goals is to emphasize collaboration and make room for others to step up. Kouzes and Posner say this is the difference between “commitment-and-support leadership versus the command-and-control techniques of previous generations” (10). It’s like the shift in teaching, too, actually, and I’m completely on board with giving students agency, so that’s a helpful way for me to keep myself in check–to remind myself that I want to give space for others to achieve, and give them the resources they need to do so.

Again this part connects to burnout studies with the argument that good leaders help “people feel strong and capable” (11). Amen. Yup. Exactly.

Encourage the Heart: The thing here is that life is regularly super hard, and good leaders acknowledge as much and are kind, express appreciation, and encourage. I love this. These gestures are vital and make a difference to me.

and Four Characteristics of Effective Leaders

What people most consistently want in a leader to be is:

  1. honest
  2. competent
  3. inspiring
  4. forward-looking

I like how these characteristics are described:

“Honest” is about having integrity and ethics. “Competent” is about getting things done and being professional. “Inspiring” is about enthusiasm, energy, a sense of humor, and optimism. And forward-looking is about having a sense of direction and thinking about the future (14-15).

Okay, then. Seems reasonable, for sure.

Finally, it’s all about credibility

All these three parts relate. In order to lead, the leader has to be trustworthy, and judging credibility is mostly that a person does “what they say they will do” (18).


Okay! that’s all I’m going to read today. It looks like there’s a lot of valuable hands-on stuff, so I’ll return to this book, but this was a helpful start. In so many ways this kind of book makes me feel validated. And in some ways it reminds me of what I aspire to.

It did not give me specific actionable items that I want to think about for addressing and preventing burnout, but, still, it led me in a helpful direction.

Philly cheesesteak moment

Posted on Updated on

At the end of a conference in Philly this past week, a few of us who had met during the conference decided to head to Reading Terminal Market for a cheesesteak. I believe two of the four of us had never had a cheesesteak. And one of these two, Alex, was about as excited about the experience as a person could be.

As we stood in the long and congested line, the questions began. Alex is from the UK, so you gotta imagine this in a great Brit accent.

What IS a cheesesteak?

Then, upon receiving an answer:

What is a “hoagie”?

It continued like this on topics such as the form of the steak and the typical cheese options and whether the cheese whiz can is similar to a whipped cream can or not. At some point I googled “cheesesteak” because I was worried I would give Alex wrong info (with me not ever having lived in Philly and all).

And during this conversation, we all inched forward, and Alex seemed as delighted as a person can be while waiting in a long crowded line.

Alex ordered just before I did, explaining the situation of it being a new experience to the cashier and getting advice to choose American cheese. Then, each time the cashier gave an option for an add-on, Alex said, “Yes!”

We all eventually got our cheesesteaks and ate them and tried one another’s and so forth, and it was all a lot of fun.

But what stayed with me, what prompted me to write, was the way Alex brought big positive energy to the process of ordering a sandwich, and how much the cashier and all the people within hearing distance were infected by that enthusiasm, all of us smiling more and enjoying Alex’s joy. I’m a big fan of yummy food, but this was something more—the excitement of the new, the different. An embracing of something that could’ve been ordinary or that others might have faced with trepidation. An energy that was simple and lovely and wholesome.

An everyday moment worth recording, worth remembering.

mine was with provolone and onions, and it was delicious

Reading novels late in 2022

Posted on

It’s funny how you can read a series of books and find themes that peat and repeat. Several years ago, I somehow read three books in a row that were on themes of McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and at some other point many books I happened to read were post-apocalyptic. Neither trend was purposeful on my part, and each time, I thought, “Hmmmm. Something is going on here.”

Over the last months, I’ve noticed a few themes. All in books that moved me–I mean, they really and truly moved me. Here are the themes.

  1. Women who have had e-fuckin-nough. Seriously. Enough.
  2. Women collecting and circulating words, stories, and knowledge that matter yet are ignored.
  3. Social change through collective power, coalition building, and the arts.

Here are the books.

  1. Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
  2. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
  3. The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
  4. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  5. The Change by Kirsten Miller
  6. Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

I read lots of other excellent books this year, too, but if you want a menu of books that speak to one another in cool ways, this is a fairly awesome selection. You really can’t go wrong.

reading “Negotiating Your Next Job” by Hannah Rile Bowles and Bobbi Thomason

Posted on

I’m back! doing another reading for the HERS Leadership Institute. This one is available online from the Harvard Business Review.

So I like to anticipate what I’m going to read before I begin, but I already read the first paragraph or two, and this article is not about salary and benefits, even though that’s what most of us associate with “negotiating” and “job.”

I’m also annoyed right away because the authors make a HUGE claim and I really want references for that claim. They say, “studies have shown that women’s ’80 cents of the dollar’ is explained more by differences in men’s and women’s career trajectories than by differential pay for doing the exact same job.” I looked into wage gap research several years ago because my son and I were talking about it, and it’s true that it’s not a simple answer, but this throwaway sentence without a citation is super annoying. Anyhow.

They go on to say it’s important to negotiate “the scope of your authority and your developmental opportunities” as well as “workload” and stuff like “location” and “travel requirements.” Part of this is connected with remote work possibilities. My personal preference is to work some days from home and some days on campus, but my current position is 100% on campus. It’s not terrible, but some days I think about how I could be a better worker at times if I had a bit more flexibility. For example, I recently went back and forth between my home and the town where I work three times in one day–2 hours altogether–because I had a vet appointment that day in the middle of my work day. It would’ve made more sense (and I would’ve missed less work) if I had worked from home that day and commuted 40 minutes instead of 120 minutes. The point of the article (and of my example) is that negotiations are about ways that a worker’s needs can be met while the needs of the workplace are also met.

This article is also about focusing on your ultimate career goals and figuring out the pathways that can lead you there. At this point, I’m hoping to secure a permanent dean position that includes tenure so I can make a difference at the administrative leadership level and return to a faculty position for the last few years of my career before retirement. I think it’s important to have a plan, but I also think it’s important to be open because sometimes things shift and move in unexpected directions. So I have a plan, and I’m also open to whatever happens.

Some of the article is about finding as much info as possible about salaries and decisions, norms for a particular organization, and so on.

I don’t know why, but I’m mostly not feeling this article. It’s almost like it’s too general to be useful to me. For thinking about my possible career futures, I like the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. To figure out how to negotiate an offer in higher ed, I think it’s best to talk with people in higher ed about it. Most people I know kinda hate that part of things. But talking with others about it definitely helps, and, oddly enough, Twitter conversations can be super helpful because you get info from a whole host of colleges and universities.

I still have a couple more readings to do today and tomorrow, so I’ll be back here, blogging away as I engage the material.

reading Beyond Reason by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro

Posted on

I’m doing another reading for the HERS Leadership Institute: Beyond Reason: Using Emotions As You Negotiate, chapter two, “Address the Concern, Not the Emotion,” by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro.

So here’s what I anticipate. In times of conflict, instead of getting caught up in the emotions that tend to flare, instead focus on that which actually needs to be addressed. Now I’ll start reading and I’ll blog my way through to see what the authors actually have to share.

They say that pretty much all of us have certain things that matter to us, and they lay out “Five Core Concerns”: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role. I have to say right away that several of these are connected to burn out studies. Being appreciated and autonomy can make us feel like we are making a difference that matters, and being appreciated and affiliation makes us feel like we are connected to a bigger network of people who are working with us. So those three, to the degree that they are experienced in positive ways, can be part of avoiding burn out.

Aaaannnndddd I’m gonna keep reading again.

Right away, I see that status and role are also connected to feelings of making a difference and being part of a team because they are connected to recognition, respect, and experiencing our roles within an organization as fulfilling.

So meeting these core concerns is not about fawning over others but instead meeting them honestly, fairly, and respectfully where they are.

I’m going to pause and say that I can look back and see times when I have felt undervalued in the workplace, and those times, well, they have sucked. To be clear, that’s not so likely to happen in my current workplace or position, but I’m sure it will happen again on occasion because that’s just the way of things. So part of leadership is not just helping to meet these needs in others but also being aware of what happens when these needs aren’t met for me and how to best respond to those moments.

I like this reading. It’s brief, and it makes things I already know on some level more explicit and clear in my mind. Awesome.

I have a few other readings to do before Thursday, so I’ll be back.