Boy, this sure hits home. These are all reasons I left the University of Calgary. It’s also why I am happy to teach courses at Mount Royal University – they do very little of this, which makes for an entirely different working environment.
If you want your staff to take a go-slow approach, follow these steps.
Ever wonder why your staff are such a complaining, cynical, lethargic bunch. Chances are it’s more to do with you than them. Here are the top six things business leaders do that sap motivation.
1. Break trust
[Leaders] break trust by mistreating individuals, thinking that the rest of the team won’t notice. Wrong.
Of course, when this is applied unevenly – with some people being privileged and others being mistreated – it’s even worse. This can be as subtle as imposing requirements on someone that are not required of others.
2. Perpetually increase demands
“You just burn people out. People are left with no sense of progress, direction or feeling that what they do each day has value.”
This one’s pretty obvious. When it comes to academics – it’s ludicrous to keep off-loading more and more administrative tasks to the faculty so you can cut admin staff.
Also, expecting excellence in teaching without paying for it is ridiculous. Sessional staff are almost NEVER paid for course development (anywhere). One way of compensating for this common failing is to actually appreciate faculty who do course development anyways (I mean sincerely, don’t just mouth the words). Another way is to make the effort to have them teach the same course several times so they can get more mileage out of their efforts. I got neither at the UofC, and both at MRU.
3. Destroy any attempts at innovation
Business leaders will often encourage staff to offer new ideas but not dedicate the time or space to take these ideas seriously when they are put forward.
Another way to do this is to make it so onerous to actually act on the ideas that people give up. The last time I taught for the UofC, I had so many obstacles thrown at me, the only way I could proceed was to do it on my own time and my own dime. I was trusted at MRU.
“Spending too much time looking over the shoulder of your staff is a great way to sap their investment in a task and ownership of their role. Micromanaging sends a clear message that ‘I don’t trust you’ and nothing is more demotivating than that,” she says.
It’s funny how people SAY they trust you, and then act like they totally don’t.
5. Be unavailable
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, it is possible to micromanage AND be unavailable at the same time. At the UofC I was expected to provide no end of detail in what I was doing, but when I asked for something, it was like pulling teeth. I have often complained about the bureaucracy at MRU, but generally speaking, people are approachable and forthcoming with information.
6. Don’t celebrate success
It is possible to do this in a way that makes one feel totally used. I was asked to share my successes with my Alma mater. The thought of doing that made my stomach hurt. My successes were largely achieved IN SPITE of them rather than because of them, yet they would happily take credit.
Curiously, I actually tried to become an adjunct at my Alma mater – twice. The first time was just after I’d graduated, and won a research award. That time my paperwork mysteriously disappeared – twice. The other time it took months of cajoling to even elicit a response from the Dean, and then they said they weren’t really interested. An adjunct appointment in Canada is a completely resource neutral appointment. It costs the University NOTHING, yet allows them to claim my achievements as part of their “output”. I can’t imagine why anyone would turn that down, but they did. THEN they had the gall to ask me to give them information they could put on their alumni pages to use for recruiting more students.
I am both happy and proud to be an adjunct at MRU.