Wednesday, January 08, 2014
When Nobody Steps Up
Wise and worldly readers, what do you do in your company, department, committee, or whatever, when nobody is willing to step up?
Never happened in my company, there was always intense competition to step up. Our incentives were better aligned than yours.
Very insightful post.
In higher ed, our bottom line isn't more profits. So if we do well, we don't necessarily have more money to share. In fact, sometimes if we "do well", people can lose their jobs or not get replacement positions in their department.
I think the best strategy is to create incentives so that the rational decision-maker (who is the one you want in these positions) will choose to be in them. Maybe not monetary incentives, but incentives nonetheless. The expected value of stepping up needs (which is [expected benefits]-[expected costs]) to be positive. When you create still water, you're decreasing the potential costs.
For many people, including myself, the benefit of doing the work comes from an internal need to do good things. A sense of professional identity also can motivate people. To the extent that you can create a larger effect in those areas, you can draw people in. (And the people you want.) Awards & recognition are also nice, but can also become trite if overused.
Money & release time also speak, of course. Though they can get abused very easily.
There have to be checks and balances, and a true sharing of power with the faculty and chair. But I have seen this model work better than the rotating chair model, which seems much more about luck.
The conceit seems to be that, because academics are so enlightened and well educated, and because they are all right-thinking liberals anyway, socialism ought to work. Filthy lucre is thought to be beneath their notice. The evidence suggests that the professoriate is just as human as the rest of us. Anonymous @ 9:21 is exactly correct.
Sound leadership has never been more important, more valuable, more worth paying big bucks for. Unfortunately, too many places are paying big bucks and getting little to no leadership in return.