#9: 4 Fears Faced By Academic Managers And How To Eradicate Them

In academia, research transformation is a crucial goal for universities seeking to stay at the forefront of knowledge creation.

Academic managers, responsible for leading and motivating staff, can face the challenge of dealing with disengaged employees who hinder progress.

Overcoming this challenge requires addressing fears and implementing strategies to inspire and re-engage disengaged staff members, ultimately driving research transformation.

Adopting a coaching mindset can help re-frame these complex situations and help academic managers achieve their objectives.

Here are 4 common fears faced by academic managers together with some suggestions to motivate disengaged staff for research transformation.

1. Fear Of Confrontation

One fear that academic managers often face when dealing with disengaged staff is the fear of confrontation.

Addressing performance issues or discussing areas of improvement can be uncomfortable for both parties involved. However, it is crucial to have open and honest conversations to identify the root causes of disengagement and develop strategies for improvement.

Academic managers can overcome this fear by establishing a culture of trust and psychological safety, ensuring that employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns.

Regular one-on-one coaching meetings can provide a platform for dialogue, where academic managers can listen actively, offer constructive feedback, and collaboratively develop action plans to reignite enthusiasm for research.

2. Fear Of Resistance To Change

Another fear academic managers encounter when motivating disengaged staff is the resistance to change.

Some employees may be reluctant to embrace new research methodologies or adapt to evolving paradigms. Overcoming this fear requires effective change management strategies.

Academic managers should clearly communicate the reasons for change and the potential benefits it brings to the organisation and individual researchers.

They can organise training programs, workshops, and seminars to provide the necessary skills and knowledge for staff members to excel in the transformed research environment.

By involving employees in the decision-making process, soliciting their input, and demonstrating the value of their contributions, academic managers can mitigate resistance and foster a culture of continuous improvement.

3. Fear Of Inadequate Resources

Academic managers may also fear that limited resources can hinder their efforts to motivate disengaged staff.

Insufficient funding, equipment, or personnel can create barriers to research transformation.

However, rather than succumbing to this fear, academic managers can focus on optimising available resources and seeking creative solutions.

They can identify opportunities for collaboration and partnerships with external organisations or seek additional funding through grants or industry collaborations.

By leveraging existing resources effectively, academic managers can demonstrate their commitment to supporting research endeavours and inspire disengaged staff to overcome resource limitations and explore innovative avenues.

4. Fear of Failure

Addressing disengagement often involves taking risks and experimenting with new approaches.

Academic managers may fear failure, especially when attempting to introduce transformative changes.

However, it is important to cultivate a culture that embraces risk-taking and views failure as a stepping stone to success.

By encouraging a coaching mindset and emphasising the learning opportunities inherent in setbacks, academic managers can alleviate the fear of failure.

Celebrating small wins and acknowledging staff members’ efforts and progress can provide the motivation and confidence needed to overcome fear and inspire disengaged employees to contribute to research transformation.

Motivating disengaged staff for research transformation requires academic managers to address fears and implement effective strategies. 

Using a coaching mindset to overcome the fear of confrontation, resistance to change, inadequate resources, and failure, academic managers can create an environment that encourages open communication, embraces innovation, and fosters continuous improvement.

Through these efforts, academic managers can inspire and re-engage disengaged staff members, ultimately driving research transformation and positioning their institutions at the forefront of knowledge creation.