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Online Course

Researcher Management and Leadership Training

University of Colorado System via Coursera

Overview

This course is for early career researchers and mentors who believe that modern scientific careers require management skills and want to be research leaders. This curriculum gives you skills to effectively implement funded projects, thereby enhancing your career success. Research leaders take on a number of new roles, rights, and responsibilities--as scientific leaders, financial administrators, managers, and mentors. In this course, we explain how to optimize the people, teams, projects, and finances for which you are responsible.

Despite your research training, you are probably facing an urgent training gap in leadership and management skills. Scientific careers falter for non-science reasons when researchers fail to execute a scope of work: struggle to track expenses and returns substantial unspent grant funds; or run out of funds by spending on the wrong people or mismanaging the right people. Consequently, projects close with inadequate progress on aims, thus compromising successful competition for future funding. This course will help avoid these traps.

Leadership and management are essential skills for researchers. Several early career researchers, senior scientists, and administrative leaders are eager to share their expertise and experiences with you.

Syllabus

Researcher Management and Leadership Training
-Welcome to Researcher Management and Leadership Training

Leadership
-Being an effective leader--of projects and people--means to understand yourself and how you communicate with others. In practical terms, this means taking steps to align the words you say with the things you do. As a leader you set a mission and vision for your work that reflects your personal values, and then show people how to contribute to your vision of a brighter future--leadership is about getting people to follow you! We will discuss leadership behaviors generally, and specifically scientific leadership. Leaders take on additional and specific roles when you lead specific people such as employees. In that case, you may take on management or mentoring functions. These are related to, but quite different in important ways, from leadership. We will introduce you to important management and mentoring skills in other modules. This module focuses on the rights and responsibilities you have as a research leader.

Finance and Administration
-New research leaders need to know about financials, reporting, and administrative obligations. If you are the research leader of a sponsored project with grant funding, then you are an academic entrepreneur. You need business skills because financial support and academic leadership come with rules, scrutiny, and new challenges. This module will prepare you to seek local answers to key questions so that you're not taken by surprise, and do not make “beginner's mistakes” with your funds. Small missteps can be extremely consequential to you as a research leader. We will help you spend research funds appropriately, on time, and as effectively as possible. You will be made aware of key practices for compliance, and prepared to adapt to the unexpected. From a regulatory or funder perspective, our goal is to keep you in compliance, out of trouble, and in good standing as a principal or lead investigator. This module focuses on the rights and responsibilities you have as a research leader and administrator.

Management - Part 1: Starting a Research Team
-Management refers to getting people to perform to agreed-upon standards. We will address important practices when managing people who work for you, whether they're paid employees, or earning credit such as students. Management is one of the biggest traps for early-career researchers, from defining tasks to giving direction and correction to delivering performance reviews and professional development. Having one or more people work on your research team requires you to engage someone to work in order to advance your goals. Your goal is that they will be your extenders, and do for you what you don't or won’t do for yourself. If you manage effectively then they will be accountable and responsible for their work. This course will address key actions you will take as you start your own lab or research group: how to decide the kind of person you need; take steps to hire someone; and how to manage individuals, your team, the project, and also manage yourself. We’ll get you started on a path to effective management, improving your team’s performance and your own productivity and scientific leadership. This module begins our program on the rights and responsibilities you have as a research leader and manager of people and teams.

Management - Part 2: Growing and Maintaining a Research Team
-We continue our work on management, now focusing on existing employees and groups of employees. Now you have people working to help you advance your goals. As a group, there is an ethos or culture to define and manage. Over time you will experience turnover when people leave the work group, and also hopefully retention as people find satisfying employment with your group. You must now attend to people’s own professional goals over time, and assess performance as they add new tasks and skills. As your own research enterprise grows and your team grows in number, you will delegate more tasks. With respect to managing scientific integrity, we will address processes to help. Focusing on delegation, we will address specifics of performance management and effective reviews, going beyond annual performance reviews.

We’ll get you started on a path to effective management, improving your team’s performance and your own productivity and scientific leadership. This module concludes our program on the rights and responsibilities you have as a research leader and manager of people and teams.

Mentorship
-Getting and giving effective mentorship are skills to build over your career. Mentoring is needed at every age and stage, and is an evidence-based way to boost your career and work satisfaction. Mentorship is a critical element for your professional development as a scientific and research leader. As a new research leader, you may be asked to begin mentoring now that you've had some success. Our goal is to help you get the most out of your mentors, and also prepare to become a highly effective mentor. We focus on the mentee, the person who seeks to benefit from the mentor's knowledge and experience, and the mentor, the person with relatively more experience and expertise to share. Each role comes with rights and responsibilities, and goals for the relationship. In this course, we describe the difference between mentorship and sponsorship, and how to get each type of support. We help you shift your thinking to be strategic about building your own mentorship team, and think of your mentorship team as your own personal board of directors. Coaching is introduced as a way to enhance your mentoring skills. We encourage you to watch this module with a mentee or mentor to build that relationship, while building skills that can be used in any mentoring relationship.

Taught by

Anne M. Libby, PhD

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