Posts Tagged ‘workplace’

Great Workplaces

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Unlike the U.S. News and World Report rankings, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s honor roll of Great Colleges to Work For contains some trustworthy information. Colleges agree to participate in the project, and then the Chronicle administers a satisfaction survey to thousands of faculty and staff. They ask about compensation, fairness, diversity, and other issues that affect worklife.

The winners are not ranked, but rather listed as scoring well in certain categories. I expected that the more resource-rich colleges would be the ones rated the highest. However, of the most honored institutions, very few I had ever heard of. Wake Tech Community College? Juniata College?

It appears that faculty and staff satisfaction depended on several elements that do not require any monetary investment. They spoke of college leaders who solicited community input and then made transparent decisions. One school with a culinary program offers discounted gourmet meals to employees. A college president in Florida cancels class–without warning–one day each year for faculty and students to enjoy themselves.

As diverse as these institutions are, the formula seems to hold: treat faculty with respect, and they will reward the institution.

Reviewing the Performance Review

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

UCLA professor of management Samuel Culbert has become a one-person army battling the annual performance review. The first salvo came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2008.

In it, he argued that the reviews enact power plays between a boss and subordinate. They intimidate and subvert without having any impact on pay. Culbert has now expanded his diatribe into a book.

Instead of performance reviews, he recommends performance previews. These conversations would be more balanced and focused on what resources a worker needs to complete his or her tasks.

Culbert is thinking of for-profit institutions when he talks about performance reviews, but such corporate ideas have found a place in academia. In the Department of Medicine, section chiefs this month will be sitting down with faculty for their annual reviews. In the best cases, supervisors will use the opportunity to project ahead more than to dwell on the past.

Difficult Colleagues

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

The Faculty Development and Diversity Committee is helping sponsor a visit next week from Dan O'Connell. Dr. O'Connell is a clinical psychologist with an expertise in communication. His public talk at BU will focus on how to deal with disruptive colleagues.

In just my first few weeks here, I have already heard stories about doctors who physically bully co-workers, humiliate students, and intimidate younger colleagues. I have no reason to believe that BU is exceptional.

In a tragic story from today's New York Times a doctor shot and killed another doctor in Connecticut after clashing while working together. After the mass murder earlier this year by a professor at the University of Alabama, it is clear that higher education is not immune to workplace violence.

After Dr. O'Connell's visit, I will report on his suggestions for dealing with disagreements in the workplace.