I had a realization over the weekend, as I contemplated the enormity of the amount of work I had to do, and the scant allowance of time in which to do it. I have suddenly realized why (at least junior) faculty can be so horrible to their graduate students and post-doctoral staff. It comes down to a complete gridlock of their time.
I have so many people who need to meet with me (I know! Lowly me!) that my days are filled with meetings, or getting to meetings, or class. This means there is really not enough time to get any work done, such as prep for such meetings or such class time. So I end up working in the evenings prepping for meetings and class, which means all the other requests that come in amongst the 100+ email messages I get every day get ignored.
The only way I can get myself out of this mess is by dumping stuff on grad assistants or post-docs, and I don’t even have time to prep them properly, or give them the tools they need to be able to handle the work. So the result is that they are forced “sink or swim” and it looks like I don’t care enough to help them.
I know; guilt again. I’m really good at that.
Then there’s the problem where I think I have given some task to my research staff, and they need me to sign off on something, whereas I would rather they take the ball and run with it, only talking to me when they really need help. Instead, I have this sense they need reassuring, which again makes me feel like they need more of me than I have time to give.
At the end of the day, I feel torn between the need to educate my research staff in various research practices, in helping them learn to be self-sufficient, in developing the skills to work in groups together, and the need to have them just get the work done.
It’s not a pretty place. I have significantly more sympathy for junior faculty advisors of grad students than I used to.
But those senior people… they should really know better, right?