So on the 1st of January I became an academic manager - my rather grand sounding title at Edge Hill University Business School is Associate Director - Student Experience. Now the interesting thing is that while academics will discuss pretty much anything openly the only conversations I can find online are reflections about academic managers not reflections from academic managers. That is a shame because there are excellent peer networks on places like twitter for ECRs and others but absolutely nothing for academic managers.
With that in mind, some early thoughts:
- Your email traffic as an academic is out of control. As an academic manager, I think the volumes of emails I received went up four-fold in the first week. My response to that has to be try and move staff away from round-robin emails to shared online documents. It's early days but it's making some difference.
- You suddenly get copied into everything. See above.
- Your peer group shifts around you. The peer I recognised as my peers now don't see me as their peer and people I didn't now do. It's a shift and I'll write more about this.
- I only work monday to friday, 9am-5pm. This one has been hard but so far I've held the line. You just have to accept there you cannot do it all.
- Your diary becomes a fiction. No matter what you plan, in a Business School with thousands of students, stuff happens and stuff happens that you have to deal with now.
- Your diary is no longer your diary. Things just appear in it.
- People think you have awesome power. Actually you have awesome responsibilities and how to work out how to do it.
- You have to learn to say "I'll think about that".
- You never read your emails after 5pm. Just don't.
Is this a whine? Not at all, I'm enjoying the job greatly (and let's not lie to each other - the extra money) and it's been obvious for a while that my career was going this way. However it would be great to see some more networking for us academic manager types. I have already developed a good network in my own University but it would be great to see that extended outside in the online space.