It is important to remember that although effective time management is important, it will not reduce the amount of work that needs to be done. Therefore, another important skill that you will need to master is the delegation of tasks. You should use the rest of the faculty and support staff to the best of your advantage. When you have an overload of tasks to complete, delegate those that could be performed effectively by someone else in the department. By doing this, you can more effectively manage your time and complete the tasks that are necessary for you to perform.
There are several areas that require specific attention in maintaining your departmental records:
Once the purpose of the meeting is defined, you should carefully consider who should participate. A common error is to invite too many people to the meeting; however, it is possible to have too few. The number of people invited to the meeting should be determined by the purpose of the meeting. The following types of meetings may be considered:
Type of Meeting Who to Include
Planning the meeting before it occurs is an important factor contributing to its effectiveness. Initially, it is important to consider when the meeting should occur. Typically, it is best to hold a meeting when the most people can attend, at a time when the members are at their best, and when there is a low probability of being interrupted. The length of the meeting should also be set so that it is long enough to take care of the necessary objectives, but not too long in which participant performance may decrease. One of the most important tactics in planning an effective meeting is to prepare an agenda. Ideally, this agenda should be distributed to the participants prior to the meeting so that they have time to review the issues and prepare for discussion/decision-making. If attendees need to make specific preparation prior to the meeting (advance reading or reviewing materials), draw their attention to this fact in the meeting announcement. Just as students benefit more from lectures if they read the material first, participants benefit more from meetings if they come prepared.
The process component, which is often the most difficult, involves managing the real-time dynamics of the meeting. Whetten and Cameron (1991) outline seven steps in ensuring that the meeting process is effective:
Dealing with Inner Conflict
Inner conflict concerns a personâs feelings. It does not consist of a set of observable behaviors but has to do with frustrations and anxieties that a person feels and that can affect his or her normal functioning (Tucker, 1984).
There are many occurrences in the university that may lead to faculty dissatisfaction and inner conflict. An example is with the salary and working conditions of the department members. If faculty are dissatisfied with their current salary or with the number of classes they have to teach, there is usually little that you can do to make drastic changes. However, you can try to lessen their dissatisfaction. You can do this by comparing their salary and working conditions to other departments within the university to show that they are not really much different from others. If there really are big differences, then you may show that you are actively lobbying for a fair share of funds available or to hire additional faculty to pick up some of the workload.
Another factor that may contribute to low faculty morale is the presence of meaningless rules and regulations and increasing outside pressure on the department. By openly showing that you oppose these things, you may help to increase solidarity within the department.
Another source of inner conflict may occur if faculty begins to feel that they do not have much control over decisions that affect them. This may easily be avoided by implementing a system that allows faculty to participate in the decision-making process. This may include a means for allowing debate over department policy and procedures or any other method that allows the minority voice to be heard.
Conflict may also result if the lines of authority and responsibility in the department are not clarified. Therefore, if you delegate authority to another faculty member you should ensure that the rest of the department is aware of it. This will prevent any unexpected surprises and the possibility of resentment.
It is important for you to identify and deal with conflict in its early stage, before it escalates. One method to foster this is allowing open confrontation over controversial issues in department meetings. This will also ensure a fair hearing for diverse viewpoints about significant issues. You should also try and maintain an approachable administrative style, so that faculty can feel comfortable coming to you with conflict, rather than finding out about it after it has escalated. If you find that this is not occurring, you may wish to ask some of the faculty members what it is about your administrative style that prevents them from approaching you with problems.
Managing Overt Conflict
You can manage overt conflict if you are perceptive to what is happening around you and use intelligent tactics to resolve conflict when it occurs. According to Tucker (1984), conflict management may be defined as the shaping of conflict in such a way that it is reduced to a process of problem solving. A problem exists when a set of expectations is not being fulfilled, whereas a conflict exists when one or more persons is intentionally or unintentionally thwarting the needs or wants of another person or persons. In many cases, transforming conflict into problem solving can be accomplished if you are able to develop a clear idea about the basic attitudes of the disputing parties toward, first, the conflict they are engaged in and, second, the stakes involved. Tucker (1994) provides a good example of how one department head was able to transform conflict into problem solving:
Several faculty members taught an introductory graduate seminar on a rotating basis. Students who took the course from a particular faculty member had great difficulty passing the department qualifying examination. This difficulty caused conflict between the students and the faculty members, as well as among the faculty members themselves. The chairperson arranged a meeting of all the teachers of the course. Instead of permitting them to dwell on their differences, he limited the agendum to a discussion of what the students were expected to know at the completion of the course and what the examination should cover. By concentrating on the problem rather than on the dispute and by reaching a mutually satisfactory solution, the chairperson defused the conflict.
This understanding is important because attitudes toward conflict influence personsâ behavior and because conflict over low stakes is much easier to resolve than conflict over high stakes.
You can settle a dispute if you can make the opposing parties believe that an agreement is possible or if you can get them to lower the stakes in their dispute. When diagnosing a conflict you should use your analytical ability. If you can identify an emerging conflict, uncover the facultyâs attitudes and beliefs about the nature of the conflict, and assess the stakes involved in the conflict, you will be better equipped to decide what to do in a particular situation. If your intervention obviously will not improve the situation, then you should stay away while remaining alert to the situation and sensitive to the conditions that produced it. However, if the conflict is affecting the functioning of the department then intervention is almost always necessary.
As the department head you may also be required to clarify a conflict when it arises. Sometimes conflicts are caused by inaccurate information and may be reduced when corrected. In addition, when a conflict arises you must consider whether it is best to intervene immediately or to discreetly look into the situation before taking any overt action. When conflicts occur that you are not qualified to address, then you should use an outside authority on the matter.
A formal means to address conflict exists under the aegis of the Faculty Administrative Relations Committee (FAR). This is a committee appointed annually by the Faculty Council (see the Handbook for details of its membership). Its role is to oversee conflict that might occur among faculty and/or between individual faculty and any administrator, such as the head. The committeeâs process allows for an informal consultation with the committee (or its chair) by the person with a complaint. At that time the individual is given advice about the appropriateness of filing a formal request for a FAR hearing. This process, obviously one that takes considerable time, then begins a series of investigative information gathering among all parties concerned. It ends with the committeeâs formal recommendation, which goes to the Chancellor, as well as to all parties involved. An appeal route to the FARâs recommendation is possible through the Chancellor (see the Faculty Handbook, Section 4.3.3).
For the department head at UTC (and, indeed, perhaps at many academic institutions), the system is such that individual faculty will occasionally feel a need or a right to challenge the authority of decisions made by the head, and may freely seek to circumvent such decisions and seek redress at some higher administrative level beyond the department. For this reason, and in most all matters involving conflict, it is important that a head keep an open line of communication among all the administrative levels, and in particular with the dean, whenever a conflict exists that seems destined to move beyond the departmental level. Moreover, it is imperative that the head -- at all times and at all levels -- attempt to manage conflict fairly, equitably, and in a reasoned, rational way. At all costs, one should avoid having an internal conflict seem to emerge as a result of personal and/or philosophical disagreement(s). Similarly, the more that a department head focuses on internal consensus and on decisions supported by the majority of faculty, isolated incidents of conflict will generally seem less impacting.
In conclusion, there is no sure way to effectively deal with every conflict-producing situation that may occur in your department. It is best to use your analytic ability, good judgment, and creativity in order to handle conflict effectively. It may also be helpful to discuss problems with a more experienced department head. Experienced department heads may be able to suggest strategies and tactics that have worked for them in the past. As a general rule, however, conflict that can be reduced to problem solving has the greatest chance of being settled. Tucker (1993) provides a thorough set of guidelines to follow when dealing with conflict on pages 411-412. There is also an entire section dedicated to conflict in Tucker on pages 397-479.