Get Good at Committee Work
Committees are an integral part of the way the University gets things done and are deeply imbedded in the fabric of our very special University culture. Committee work is different from team work and there can be powerful unwritten rules related to the ways committees operate. Be sure to understand your committee’s reporting line, charge, scope, and what it should produce (and hopefully make “actionable”) as you expand your involvement in committees across campus.
It can take special skill and experience to navigate committee hierarchies and reporting lines (and politics) so ask questions about your specific role before you engage. Staff committees, faculty committees and blended committees can be very different from one another and staff must learn to nimbly adapt depending on their role (leadership, peer, support, etc.). Also, it can be critical, if there are important deliverables, to determine how credit will be assigned – since committees often suffer from the proverbial problem of assigning credit for work in ways not consistent with individual contribution (as most of us have witnessed or experienced, some people roll up their sleeves and get things done and others watch these people work).
Committees assignments can help advance your career if you are able to innovate and produce meaningful work so take care to understand and even clarify at regular intervals the purpose of your work and role. Hone your facilitation skills to help yourself and others contribute in the best possible manner. Feel free also, to decline committee involvement (if appropriate) if the charge or responsibilities are not clearly defined.
Learn to Work Across Silos
We often talk about UC Berkeley as a single entity (which it is in its shared history and values) but the truth is that because of our size, complexity, and dispersed activities our schools, colleges and administrative units are very different in size, structure and culture. To work effectively in this dispersed environment, it is important to look for ways to transcend the silos that sometimes insolate us. This often involves actively developing, managing and strengthening relationships across campus and looking for projects, issues and opportunities of mutual importance and benefit. The ability to understand and work across our many departments and units is a real professional strength and a sign of career maturity. Many projects that most benefit the campus bust and defy existing silos and help to unify the experience of campus for students, faculty and staff.
Understand Academic Hierarchies
The role of tenure and other special features of academic positions and the complex functions and responsibilities of a land grant research institution take some effort and time to understand as do our complex administrative hierarchies and reporting relationships. Take some time to understand how the Academic Senate operates, for example. Can you name all of our current Vice Chancellors? Why does the Office of the President exist? What do the Regents do? The more you understand our power structures and relationships, the better you will be able to influence and work within them. Decision making rights are at the heart of these complex hierarchical constructs so be sure you know who has ultimate responsibility for the people, projects and resources with which your work intersects.
Learn to Lead Without Authority
Staff are often called upon to produce important work but often need to do so with weak decision making rights. There are some wonderful resources out there related to leading without authority…probably a good idea to review them as you build core skills. Servant Leadership, Influencer How To Lead, When You’re Not In Charge
Build Adaptability (in teams and individuals)
Especially lately, change is the only thing that will remain constant. If you expect, prepare for and even learn to leverage our environment of constant change, you are likely to do well. Work on your ability to adapt, maintain a positive attitude toward change and encourage this in others.
Fun Five: Blue Five for Gold Grad