Wednesday, April 03, 2013

A "user manual" for a person is a great idea. Here's a first draft of mine.

This piece in Sunday's NYT (here) got me thinking:  most people are mysteries to each other, except maybe to their loved ones (and, even then, there's still some mystery left).  So here are some random thoughts about my working style, and my friends and colleagues are more than welcome to tell me that my opinions of my working style bear very little resemblance to reality.  Of course, I'm a lame duck dean at this point, and perhaps this manual would have been of more use at the beginning of my term.
  1. My favorite colleagues are the ones who keep me from doing dumb things (at least without thinking things through first).  Please give me your real opinion, not what you think that I might want to hear.  Make suggestions, both about ideas and about how I might communicate them.  I promise you that you'll get my deep loyalty in return.
  2. I am much happier with "direct" and "blunt" than with communication that beats around the bush.  I'm tougher than I look, so direct and blunt language will not bother me.  Waiting for 30 minutes for you to get to the point will bother me.
  3. A sense of humor is a wonderful thing.  I love being in a workplace that can produce a belly laugh at least once a day, even if the laugh is triggered by being in the middle of a crazy situation.
  4. If I've worked with you for longer than a month, it's because I'm happy with what you're doing.  It's totally OK to make decisions without checking with me, but it's also OK if you want to bounce ideas off me.  I operate on a "clearly erroneous" standard on most decisions--even if it's not the choice I would have made, if you made a reasonable choice, then I'm going to support it.
  5. I prefer email to telephone conversations.*  I like in-person communications, too.  I've just never been much of a "phone" person; phone conversations make me antsy.  I think that texting is brilliant as a communications medium.  (Note to students:  I don't think that texting professors is a good way to communicate.)
  6. I believe that meetings should have a purpose beyond presenting data.  Meetings are for brainstorming or for making decisions (or for keeping me from making a dumb mistake--see point #1 above).  I'm not a fan of folks going around the room in a meeting to tell me what they're doing.  That information is for day-to-day, talk in the hall stuff.
  7. One of the things that I've loved about my colleagues this year is that everyone in the administrative suite recognizes that we're all on the same team, and there's not one complainer in the bunch.  Everyone here is busy.  Everyone here is trying hard.  Everyone here is overworked.  And yet, each morning, people come in cheerful, with their sleeves rolled up.  It just doesn't get better than that.
 Part of me wonders what would happen if I asked the folks with whom I worked to come up with their list of what I'm really like.  Hmmm....

* Except with my friends and relatives.  I love hearing their voices.

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