June 17, 2005

The Joys of Administrative Roles

Once upon a time, a few months ago, I got landed with an administrative role. This is not news, all academics get landed with significant administrative roles (the sort of administrative role that needs academic input, and thus has to be done by an academic) sooner or later. Dodging with creative excuses will only get you so far in avoiding such jobs, and the best you can hope for is to dodge some of the more vile admin jobs, and get landed with something that is a little more tolerable. Not that I'm any good at thinking of creative excuses, the best I can manage is "Ah but I'd be really really bad at it!".

The major admin role I managed to acquire (after dodging the first two that came sniffing around) never looked like the rosiest job around, but I wasn't really prepared for the aspect of the job that is this: lots of responsibility but insufficient resources and power to meet that responsibility. The result? Lots of cockups that aren't my fault (honest).

A few weeks ago: collective cockups served on a platter by several other members of the department, despite maximal organisational efforts on my behalf to prevent such things. Result? The deputy dean of the faculty rings me up to give me a bollocking, I shout back (not a smart move), and then I disconnect my phone for the next 24 hours whilst I calm down. Meanwhile, I can't in turn give relevant members of the department a bollocking because they are my colleagues, I have to work with them, and fuming overly much in their direction is not only going to get me a frosty work atmosphere, but is also going to mean they land me in it even worse the next time. So they get off scot-free.

Latest hair-tearing episode: an administrator makes a mistake on a spreadsheet, the data of which I rely on. Now I don't blame the administrator for making the mistake, mistakes can happen to anyone. But then it takes me an hour to clear up the mess. And it has to be me, because only my signature on the umpteen forms will do. So one little mistake on the administrator's part, and once again the perpetrator gets off scot-free, and it's me who has to pay for it. Grrr.

Waaaaah, I don't like this admin role. I want to give it back.

I have tried.

The head of department sent out feelers to six people who might be suitable alternatives for the role, the result of which was for six people to go very quiet and keep their heads down for the next two months. Oh great, just great. How many years before a greater muggins than moi comes along?


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