Our managers

There’s nobody more junior that me in my department, and it’s my choice not to be a manager. But I’m obliged to create opportunities to contribute my experience into institutional policy and practice – I have to take responsibility for that.

In the open meeting led by the head of this institution (which took place in a newly refurbed, completely inflexible lecture theatre) I asked a couple of questions about the design physical teaching and learning spaces. It was answered by senior people in Planning, Learning and Teaching, the Student Experience, and the head of the institution. They mentioned a lot of stuff that was new to me, including a new group responsible for the “managed learning environment” (wherever the word ‘learning’ appears, I detect a local tendency to insert ‘managed’ or ‘management’), and when I asked, probably in what was considered quite an unseemly way, whether my department was represented on that I was jovially informed that yes we were.

I was collared afterwards by the Learning and Teaching person (with whom I don’t have the relationship I’d like) to hint and eventually declare that he couldn’t take responsibility for my manager not communicating developments to his subordinates, and to please stop assuming that he (LT person) was responsible. He told me that he could not contact me and colleagues directly without antagonising my manager, and that I would have to find a way to get my manager to either bring about good communication or give his blessing for the LT person to contact us directly.

This is frustrating. At the same time as he signals that we should respect this – and by implication every (unnecessary) – hierarchy, he expects me to subvert the particular hierarchy where I reside and act indirectly to influence my manager. I hate this kind of politically-motivated upward management – it demands a particularly manipulative approach. Very frustrating. What I would prefer is for the two of them to be free and welcome to make these kinds of suggestions and gentle reminders to each other. But I seem to have had the buck passed to me, curses.

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