Developing early to mid-career academic staff in a changing university environment
Keywords:professional development, lecturer, career development, world café, community of practice, leadership, change management.
New academic staff are generally offered structured career development opportunities particularly to develop their teaching practice, often in the form of a credit-bearing programme. Less purposeful development is typically offered beyond this stage, despite staff often moving in to key leadership roles to enhance learning and teaching practice, such as programme leadership, project management and mentoring of new staff. This article presents data from a world café event run for graduates of a post-graduate certificate who were up to 10 years into their career, where they engaged in conversations about the affordances and obstacles to their career development. Three key themes emerged from the findings. Firstly, purposeful networking and engaging in communities of practice were significant vehicles for examining career options, developing leadership capacity and becoming more visible in the university. Secondly, taking the time to make decisive and purposeful choices in career development opportunities was noted by participants. Thirdly, finding strategies to manage conflict and change were often voiced; whilst staff were prepared for teaching roles, managing conflicting demands was often challenging, and development in leadership in changing times was less purposeful. Suggestions are presented for universities to consider to more purposefully develop early to mid-career staff, particularly in a time of rapid change.
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