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Management Approach

General Philosophy

As a manager, my primary job is to coordinate and integrate a group of highly intelligent and dedicated people with whom I need to partner for success. I see value in everyone and believe that diverse perspectives lead to a greater chance of success in any project. I therefore encourage my direct reports to respectfully challenge each other and me, and have an open door access policy.

I am a big fan of inquiry based learning and model this in my management approach. My meeting agendas are mainly a series of questions. I try to avoid stating an opinion but rather guide others to their own solutions through a series of thought provoking questions.

Managing people

I feel privileged to work with so many highly intelligent people who are dedicated to improving the quality of education for our students and have so much to contribute to the process. As Steve Jobs said "we do not hire intelligent people to tell them what to do, we hire intelligent people to tell us what to do". I therefore believe that participation in decision making is critical to the success of any initiative and work hard to gather input and build consensus. I encourage open and honest discussion and analysis in all meetings, and will either respond honestly to questions, or if unable to divulge information will explain why.

I do not like nor have the time to micro-manage, and therefore prefer to assign measurable objectives to my reports.  These objectives are derived from yearly tactical plans which are in turn derived from our multiyear strategic planning process.  They are the basis of monthly one-on-one meetings during which we discuss how I can help them achieve these goals or modify them if necessary. 

I believe in the power of positive feedback and subscribe to the management philosophy of catching people doing well and rewarding them appropriately. I believe in mentoring faculty and staff for success and career growth, with the result that many of my reports receive promotions or achieve leadership roles at other institutions.

Data and Transparency

As a scientist I am analytical and objective, requiring that decisions be supported with data, but recognizing that the backstory can be as important as the data. I have a large LCD panel in both my office and conference room that are constantly used to display data during meetings with my staff. For example, each year I use a risk analysis model, developed with my deans, to determine how new faculty lines are allocated to departments. I believe in transparency so this analysis is shared with the entire faculty body so everyone knows the parameters by which these decisions are made.

Managing Change

I am experienced at working in academic environments where change without buy-in tends to be resisted – “a change imposed is a change opposed”. Change often involves asking people to move out of their comfort zone and into the risky unknown. A sense of loss and fear of failure can accompany these changes. I deal with this by acknowledging loss, showing gratitude for prior successes, and by spending a great deal of time and effort preparing people to be successful in the new paradigm, often before we even consider the change. For example, in my strategic planning process there is a field next to every strategy in which faculty and staff development needs are listed.