Friday, April 15, 2011
of two minds
Call them leaders and followers...call them teachers and administrators...call them employees and bosses...call them whatever you want, but within any given organization there are two disctinct groups of people - those who do the essential work of the organization and those who organize, direct, control, and plan (classic management functions) for the organization. While I am all for flat organizations - and for roles rather than titles - and for sharing the workload...I also know that these two groups of people are mostly in those roles because that is how they think. Today's blog comes from a conversation I had yesterday afternoon with one of Concordia's faculty - and the discussion came down to how faculty anbd administrators think - and ultimately how they see the world and act in that world. I have found that the hardest thing we have to do in organizations is to put ourselves in other people's shoes. In my organization, administrators want faculty to think like administrators...and faculty want administrators to think like faculty. Personally, I am glad that they don't think like each other, becasue then one of them would be unnecessary (I know of many faculty who beleive that administrators are unnecessary - and vice versa). Each group of people are charged with different roles within the institution, and they need to live out those roles with that unique set of eyes. One of the potential problems we see in institutions is that those who do their main calling well (i.e. teaching) get promoted to an administrative level (i.e. dean). While there is nothing wrong with that in and of itself, one of the hard shifts that never takes place is that the person receiving the promotion needs to remove their former "hat" and put on a new one. A dean within the University setting is no longer a faculty member and needs to stop thinking like a faculty member in their dean role. A faculty member who wants to act like a dean will often find themself frustrated and make comments or accusations from a place they have never been or understood. That being said, I believe there are people who do think like an administrator and should be given the opportunity to use that thinking - and then be trained for an administrative role in the future. I recently put together an interim sucession plan for my college, and as I went around to the faculty asking whom they thought I should name as an interim sucessor, it was 100% unanimous. The person they all believed should take on the role was the same one I also had thought would be best at it. This person is a tremendous teacher and faculty member - but also shows administrative abilities...and when asked about future goals named an administrative position. Here's what's interesting...this particular faculty member never complains about administrative decisions (not the norm for most faculty). On the flip side, I have colleagues in adminsitrative positions who should be back in faculty positions. They think like faculty, they talk like faculty and they act like faculty. They are - by very nature faculty - and were moved into an administrative position by default most times. I often see them frustrated at the administration (even though they ARE the administration) and see their world through faculty eyes. One of the problems in most organizations is that it is almost impossible to "go back" to previous positions because the pay will be less. I do not know what the solution for this can be - but it sure would help to put people where they can best use their talents and gifts for the good of the organization. A book I read a long time ago, based on the Myers-Briggs personality types, was entitled Please Understand Me. My pleas is that leaders and followers...teachers and administrators...employees and bosses begin to better understand one another. Please understand that each group thinks differently from the other...please understand that much of this different type of thinking has to do with gifts and talents...please understand that when one complains about the other it is through their own unique view of the world and not about the actions of the other person...please understand that each group is doing their best work as they know how and sometimes needs to be told that how they see the world may be in conflict with how the other group sees the world...please understand that those who are REALLY good at what they do can often get myopic and need to reminded of the other group's mindset...please understand that TRUST of the other group can go a long way in building relationships...please understand that each group has a unique calling and vocation that needs to be honored...and please understand that each group needs the other. In my world, a college without faculty would cease to exist as there would be no one doing the work of the institution - and a college without administrators would cease to exist as there would be no buildings, no paychecks, and no plans from which to continue operating. As one who sees the world through an adminsitrative lens, I am thankful for my colleagues who see the world through a faculty lens - I hope and pray they feel the same way about me.