Rules for Academic Managers

I have been a professor for several years. Because I lead a group, I am a kind of "academic manager." I find that sometimes I didn't do things correctly and hence my members were not happy. So here I list some rules as a reminder for me.

Try to be on time for meetings.

You are busier than your group members, but this doesn't mean they should wait for you.

If you need to say sorry, say it.

Everyone can make mistakes. Although they are your members, you still need to apologize to them if you did something wrong. An example is that if you are late for a meeting.

Try to run part of your members' experiments if possible.

One reason is to verify their results, but another reason is to understand how hard working they have been. Sometimes after spending a whole month rewriting a student's paper, I wrongly thought that I contribute a lot to the paper. In fact, the student may spent a whole year for finishing all experiments.

Remember that your one sentence may cause your member one month to do it.

When I check students' paper, I may ask them to rerun the whole experiments if certain things do not look right. This is good, but I need to remember that such an instruction will then take them some time. I shouldn't expect they can finish the whole thing right after I say it.

Don't put your name on a paper unless you have some contributions

The authorship of a paper is related to the contribution rather than the fact that your members work for you.

Don't feel uncomfortable if your members have better achivements than you.

I belive this is something difficult for many of us. However, I will be very happy if one of my students eventually gets Nobel prize or Turing award.

Chih-Jen Lin
Last modified: Wed Apr 4 08:56:59 CST 2007