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Working with Problem Faculty: A Six-Step Guide for Department Chairs

ISBN: 978-1-118-24238-4
240 pages
September 2012, Jossey-Bass
Working with Problem Faculty: A Six-Step Guide for Department Chairs (1118242386) cover image


Working with Problem Faculty

When asked to name their number one concern and problem, department leaders overwhelmingly said that it was dealing with difficult people. Now R. Kent Crookston draws on the wisdom of seasoned department chairs, the academic literature, and his own experience as a department head and dean to shed new light on this perennial problem. Working with Problem Faculty outlines a practical six-step process that aims at improving an entire department and charts a clear course for dealing with problem faculty by

  • Clarifying values and expectations
  • Following policy
  • Building trust with colleagues
  • Evaluating yourself and your perceptions
  • Listening
  • Taking appropriate action

By following these six steps, department chairs are able to challenge problem faculty with consideration, confidence, and effectiveness.

"Anyone seeking practical help in dealing with difficult people will appreciate this book. Using relevant examples, Crookston describes a six-step process for managing people who might appear to be unmanageable."
Mary Lou Higgerson, vice president for academic affairs emeritus, Baldwin Wallace University

"Crookston has done his homework. After careful research and decades of personal experience Dr. Crookston shares a practical, insightful, and crucial handbook for addressing the most formidable challenge all leaders face. And best of all, he doesn't just advise on how to act when things go wrong, he gives proactive guidance to ensure that things go right."
Joseph Grenny, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Change Anything and Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High

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Table of Contents

Problem Faculty: The Number One Concern of America’s Academic Chairs 1

Part One The Six Steps

1. Step 1: Clarify Values and Expectations 11

2. Step 2: Follow Policy 27

3. Step 3: Build Trust with Colleagues 37

4. Step 4: Evaluate Yourself and Your Perceptions 53

5. Step 5: Listen 69

6. Step 6: Take Effective Action 87

Part Two Tough Questions

7. What About the Chronic Poor Performer? 113

8. What About the Passive-Aggressive Colleague? 121

9. What About Bullies? 131

10. What About the Problem Characters Who Emerge During Times of Change? 149

11. What About the Psychologically Impaired? 163
Carolyn Oxenford and Sally Kuhlenschmidt

Conclusion 191

Appendix A Sample Vision and Mission Statement 193

Appendix B Sample No-Bullying Policy 199

Appendix C Faculty Behaviors That May

Suggest a Mental Health Problem 203

Acknowledgments 211

The Author 213

Index 215

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Author Information

R. Kent Crookston is the director of the Academic Administrative Support Program at the Brigham Young University Faculty Center. In addition to researching academic administration, he currently researches and teaches effective decision-making.

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Press Release

December 06, 2012
Working with Problem Faculty: A Six-Step Guide for Department Chairs

Working With Problem Faculty

San Francisco, CA - Most department chairs come into their position from the faculty and thus have no training in dealing with their colleagues when they exhibit aggressive behavior, bullying, lack of collegiality, or other varieties of challenging behavior. Yet the chair’s ability to handle people and situations appropriately is key not just to his or her success in the role but also to the department’s and its members' ability to function productively.

Rather than looking at the issue systemically, author Kent Crookston provides a practical, focused, on-the-ground approached to help chairs learn to deal with challenging colleagues.  Based both on the literature and his own research, Crookston provides six steps for successfully dealing with any kind of a challenging colleague.

They are:

  • Clarify Values and Expectations                                          
  • Follow Policy  
  • Build Trust with Colleagues 
  • Evaluate Yourself and Your Perceptions
  • Listen   
  • Take Effective Action  

Working With Problem Faculty answers questions like 'what about bullies?' and 'what about the psychologically impaired?'  It is the is a must-read for those department chairs who have to face tough management questions.

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