5 Effective Tips to Survive Initial Years Being a Department Head

O. John Ma, MDBlogLeave a Comment

O. John Ma, MD

You would have come across many people who would meet you by congratulating you after you are named department chair. As a first-time chair, you are armed with only peripheral leadership experience, with whatever supportive relationships exist in the department, and with a faculty hungry for more, better, different, or even status-quo guidance. Your job starts the moment the appointment is announced. Foot traffic by your office will increase rapidly, and your calendar will fill with more and more meeting requests. The dean wants to start discussing your “new strategic plan.”

O. John Ma, MD

The office manager is either threatening to quit or telling you about how other staff members are disgruntled and threatening to quit. You don’t have to worry at all or feel anxious about your workplace, here are some tips for you to survive your first year as a chair.

Set expectations upfront:

Relationship dynamics get off-kilter when you assume the role of a chair. Close colleagues may think they can make special requests. Some faculty members with whom you had little or no relationship suddenly want to become your best buddy. A helpful strategy is to set expectations upfront. Talk to your colleagues, either in small groups or at a department-wide meeting.

Find a new community:

People would have lots of expectations from you and listen to them carefully do not hustle. Understand people’s needs, concerns, dreams, and desires then rouse your courage and set appropriate boundaries. The best solution is to find a new community either with other chairs or people facing the same experience so that you may open up about your workload.

Understand your department’s budget:

The quicker you understand your department’s financial processes the easier it is to understand everything because everyone is looking forward to how you are going to manage the resources. Fit into the organization’s financial structures and plan accordingly.

You can’t perform well with the absence of mental peace:

Don’t get overburden with a plethora of meetings and deadlines and try to stay calm. People will try to overwhelm you and it might disturb your mental peace. Listen to them but act upon your own advice because everyone would be sharing their perspectives.

Categorize list of important people:

Obviously, you only got 24 hours not more than that and plenty of work to do. Manage your time and know who are the important people your time is worth giving. When your subordinates would know that they have to take care of the problem themselves much of your workload would be divided and your time would be invested in the right place.

About the Author

O. John Ma, MD

O. John Ma, MD has multiple achievements including clinical quality and patient safety, Emergency care for Oregonians, Graduate Medical Education, and Entrepreneurial Initiative.

5 Effective Tips to Survive Initial Years Being a Department HeadunratedO. John Ma, MD2020-04-21 13:51:49You would have come across many people who would meet you by congratulating you after you are named department chair. As a first-time chair, you are a…

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