Part 3 - Challenges of Managing in an Academic Environment
For those of us in or adjacent to academic institutions, the R&D efforts we are charged with - developing new computational supports for research from a large number of potential proofs of concept - are a bit of an awkward fit.
Academic departments have, naturally enough, a culture of focussing on open-ended questions, and much less of a focus on routine successful execution. This percolates down to hiring practices, management styles, and how efforts are funded, which causes us a few challenges - how to manage, hiring and developing our team, tackling ambitious projects with small teams, and on funding.
Most directly, it can be really hard to find good mentors or examples for learning how to manage in an academic environment. Academia highly values hands-off collegiality, and words like “management” or “administration” are spoken with disdain when they’re mentioned at all. But if we’re going to get work done with other humans, we need to learn to develop trusting working relationships with them, understand their strengths, weaknesses, and what motivates them, and help them develop their skills and careers - all that, you know, stuff.