Two weeks ago, I felt compelled to write about the black hole of academic overthink that is my calendar. Over the years, and even as recently as in the post itself, I have sought advice on how to manage my calendar better.
Perhaps, one of my all-time favorites was this one from a parting manager, as I was about to fill his shoes: “Just remember, you don’t have attend every meeting, Nikki.” Ah, but the great secret was: “Which ones do I have to go to and which ones should I miss?” If there really are too many meetings that must have a representative from your team present, consider a delegate.
All too often, I’ve seen the same few people selected to represent a unit or team for all the major projects for no other reason than:
- they are the players people on the outside already know from previous work,
- they have the internal knowledge from working on projects in the past, and/or
- they are so busy representing the team at project meetings that they don’t have time to share internal knowledge that would allow someone else to fill in.
At some point, you, the over-scheduled person, or you, the supervisor of an over-scheduled person, will have to decide when to delegate projects to others in your unit. Rotating in a few fresh faces in the team would:
- Take the burden of the key point people. We have a habit of rewarding people for their hard work with more hard work. The problem is, a calendar full of meetings for projects doesn’t allow for completing these projects. Something has to give.
- Allow for succession planning. What happens if the key point people retire or leave? In higher education we don’t usually have the luxury of having the new hire trained by the outgoing worker. What will you do if a position is vacant and held open for months? How can other staff members gain knowledge and experience to fill the gap if they can’t be trusted as delegates?
In the end, would the world really end if the one person in your unit who absolutely has to be part of every project planning meeting all of a sudden didn’t show up? (If it would, then you probably need a delegate before that person gets hit by a bus or wins the lottery anyway.)
Photo, Cubicle Life by herval