Coaching can help busy academics get through their work.

Academic working life often speeds up considerably in September with the start of the new academic year. Suddenly there can be a deluge of seemingly urgent requests:

*The reading list for the new module you are leading is overdue and you are being chased by the library

*Your new and returning tutees are back and want to talk to you

*You volunteered to do some lectures for a colleague who is off sick – you’ve been asked to provide a summary of them by today

*In the last 48 hours you have received three requests to review research manuscripts

*Key lab equipment broke down last week and won’t be fixed in time for your sponsor’s deadline for their next research report

*Your manager needs your completed paperwork for your appraisal next week

*And a flood of emails has landed in your inbox to accompany the 100+ unread messages you still have to read after taking a 2 week break last month


Does this sound familiar?

How do you cope with this? Everything seems to need to be urgent and ideally done by today.

Remember, the start of the academic year often feels frenetic. If you’ve been an academic for any length of time, you know it will calm down (a little) in a few weeks.

But sometimes you wonder how long you are prepared to continue like this. Some of your colleagues seem to accept the need to work evenings and weekends.. But it’s wearing you down and not what you want to do.


Coaching is likely to help

A coach can help us to take a little time to step back and articulate what is happening. He or she will listen intently as we describe our situation. Coaching is confidential and can be the first step to making things better for us.

A qualified coach has studied and trained in many aspects of coaching. This includes asking ‘coaching questions’. These powerful questions help us to think deeply about what is happening and our responses to our situation. A coach will also help us to consider our options and take action to improve things.

As a coach and mentor, challenges faced by my clients who are academics might include:

*Prioritising work

*Managing the expectations of others

*Addressing a conflict with a colleague

*Managing emails

*Managing time

*Ensuring that there is quality time for research

*Setting reasonable expectations for self


Every person is different and their particular situation is unique to them. Coaching can help because it focuses on you as a unique individual. You have many strengths. And you also have the opportunity to develop yourself further and work towards the life you want to lead.


Related posts by Jenny Ames:

What are the benefits of enhancing our personal resilience? 

How might university researchers benefit from coaching?

Positively reframing failure to achieve personal growth

Contract Researchers and Research Students. How will defining your purpose help you decide your next career move?

How can we build our personal resilience?

How might coaching help promote a positive research culture in universities?

During a 35 year career in higher education, Jenny Ames led a productive research group, worked with people from a wide range of subject areas  and countries and collaborated with organisations from various sectors. She held the title of Professor at 6 universities, graduated ~25 PhD students and mentored ~25 contract researchers. Jenny was also a senior manager for 8 years. As Associate Dean and Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor, Jenny led on Research Impact at University level. In 2017 was she was made Founding Research Impact Lead for University Alliance.
Since 2017, Jenny has been Director of Jenny Ames Consulting Ltd. Jenny’s coaching practice focuses on university researchers and people in career transition. Her clients are both universities and researchers on a private basis. Individuals come from diverse subjects areas and backgrounds. Jenny holds a Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring Practice from Oxford Brookes University. She is also a Member of the Association for Coaching (MAC). Jenny has been a role model for the Aurora Leadership Development Programme for women run by Advance HE. She was also a facilitator on ‘Entrepreneurial Leaders’, a programme for senior university leaders run by the National Centre for Entrepreneurship in Education (NCEE).


Author Jenny Ames

Working with Universities, Businesses and their Stakeholders to benefit Society.

More posts by Jenny Ames