I am feeling better about my job frustrations in large part because of the supportive comments from all of you. I think venting is good simply because it's helped me pinpoint what the real problems are and start figuring out how to deal with them. In terms of the tasks I typically perform, I'm quite happy. I spend my time mostly tinkering with web pages, reading about new technology and its application to education, talking through technical possibilities with people, making plans for equipment purchases, solving technical problems, writing about technology and education, creating multimedia projects and helping others do so. All those things are fun and rewarding and generally lead to more fun and rewarding things. In terms of the people I work with, I feel pretty good too. My immediate supervisor is a hands-off kind of person. We meet periodically and I update her and she makes suggestions for what I might pursue. If I disagree, she hears me out and generally trusts my perceptions and my ideas. I have colleagues in the office that I like and they work very hard and are always willing to help out.
All that's good. And I've decided the real difficulties lie in not having a clear idea of my priorites, not having appropriate support (no one reports to me and/or there's no group of people all doing the same thing), and not dealing with the politics well. I can't really direct my colleagues and I'm not entirely sure I would want to. But I often feel like we are all working at cross purposes or are repeating each other's work rather than really collaborating. Partly that's because we're all pulled in a million directions. If we had some sort of direction, that would make me feel better.
In fact, the structure of our entire department lends itself to this kind of confusion. Faculty don't often know who to go to for what. Sometimes people accept projects that eventually fall on my desk or start projects and throw them to me when they get stuck. We're trying to filter everything through a central location, but it's going to take time for that to work. I think eventually, this is all going to get better, but there's still some things that need to be worked out. It all feels willy-nilly from my end right now.
I also realize there are some turf issues among my colleagues and I include myself in the turf wars. It's weird to realize that yes, you really do want control of x and that you're a little upset that so-and-so took it over without consulting you. And then you feel petty because it's not a big deal and you should be grateful that someone's helping you out. Crazy. I've either got to get over that or learn how to stake my claim.
And I've gotten some great feedback on my survey about the faculty workshops I've been offering. I think it will go through some major revamping, along with some sprucing up of some documentation and some more podcasting and screencasting, of course. :) I think if I can stay focused on what's going well, learn to deal with the politics and be patient while our departmental tweaking continues, I'll be much more satisfied.
I think Academic in Exile and I have been drinking the same kool-aid lately. I swear we're in a weird sync.