My Organizational Psychology Epiphany

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My job-related angst has been increasing steadily this year, and for months I've thought it was due to all the overloads I've been teaching. But a few days ago the mental clouds parted and I finally figured out the real problem: putting forth a lot of effort without any change in or recognition from the organization I work for.

Since getting hired, there's been turnover in about twenty percent of the full-time faculty -- retirements, tenure rejections, firings, and voluntary departures for jobs elsewhere. There's also been some turnover in the administration. But I don't see any meaningful change in the institutional culture. There's a cohort of tenured faculty who have benefited greatly from the existing system and they don't want it to change, even though a lack of change will cause the university to sink further into the swamp of lesser-tier schools struggling to survive.

So I've made a pledge to myself to stop doing things because they might be good for the university and only do what's good for me. I'll bring in guest speakers, but only for my classes -- no more scheduling and promoting campus-wide events. I'll do service only if it directly and immediately makes my job easier; I've already resigned from a couple of committees. In other words, I'm checking out. I get more satisfaction from growing vegetables in my backyard.

Sporky, I'm sorry to hear it's not all rainbows and unicorns, and I mean that sincerely.

spork, there are four choices if your organisation is making you unhappy: silence, loyalty, voice, or exit.

Each of these has costs, but the fourth is often the only realistic long-term solution to being stuck in a dysfunctional organisation.

Spork, I reached the point in my last position where I concluded that my only loyalty was to my students, and it sounds like that's where you are, too. In a way, this makes things fairly simple; in situations where I might otherwise have struggled to figure out what to do, I could just proceed in a way that was reasonable for myself and my students--remembering that I had to take care of myself if I were to be capable of helping them.

That strategy worked okay for ~18 months, at which point I discovered that things had gotten so dysfunctional that the stress involved in protecting my students from random idiocy was growing daily. At that point, I got out. The thing that precipitated the ramped-up stress for me was a massive reorganization of the upper admin, though, with associated changes to policy and procedures; if things had just kept on rolling along in the usual way, I would probably have been fine for far longer. I hope that your decision will help you to deal with the stress for some time to come, so you can make a decision about what you want to do without external pressure.

So you're saying it is time to stick a spork in it, you're done?

Sorry to hear that this place is not working out, you deserve better.


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