Academic Administrator Coaching and Training

While the role of department chair or dean requires the knowledge, awareness, and experience of being a member of the faculty, that prerequisite offers little preparation for the realities of budgets and funding, personnel issues, faculty/staff relations, organizational change, departmental priority setting, motivating faculty, student complaints, supervision of staff, tenure considerations and denials, retention challenges, merit increases, faculty meetings and retreats, legal considerations, disgruntled faculty, relationships with the Dean's Office, policy development and implementation, intra-departmental conflicts, curricular renovations, accreditation issues, strategic planning, and more - not to mention the onslaught of meetings and e-mail.  Furthermore, an academic administrator is no longer simply a colleague to anyone else in the department and cannot rely on past friendships or collaborations in the same way.  

Meanwhile, academic administrators who have never been faculty may find the norms, culture, and pace of change within the academic environment to be perplexing at best. Without a context to understand why faculty are the way they are - including an understanding of the positive underpinnings of academic culture as well as effective strategies for dealing with its shortcomings - senior staff may feel increasingly hampered in their efforts to bring their own professional expertise to the table.

Coaching for faculty and administrative leadership is on-the-job training tailored to the specific needs, challenges, and contexts of a given administrative role and academic unit, providing "just in time" resources, advice, and perspective.  This approach is particularly useful given that leadership turnover in academia is more the norm than the exception, and on-going commitments to research and teaching cannot be sacrificed in order to learn how to be a better administrator. 

Coaching is also a valuable resource for any administrator who, given the boundaries of the leadership role, typically lacks colleagues with whom they can vent, assess and identify appropriate responses.

Coaching contracts are available for individuals (who may pay out-of-pocket, or through designated university funding) or for departments, schools, colleges, or universities who wish to provide this as training resource to leaders.  With either approach, all coaching is conducted as a confidential relationship between the coach and the individual being coached.

Coaching sessions can include:

  • Personal goal setting (leadership role choices, research/teaching/service balance, work/life balance, career advancement)
  • Training in how to think strategically about organizational realities, including how to navigate the system, how to initiate change, how to leverage resources, etc.
  • Assessment and development of leadership skills and style, including managing people, delegation, consensus-building, meeting and project management, mentoring, working with department staff, communication and negotiation, etc.
  • Problem solving regarding specific situations, people, and other challenges
  • Strategies for negotiating the ways that social identity (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) can impact the experiences of individuals and of departments
  • Strategies on how to work effectively within the norms and expectations of academia