- Supervisors & managers
- Supervising a doctorate
- Establishing relationships
- Managing and supporting your researcher
Managing and supporting your researcher
The following model may be helpful in considering how you manage and support your researcher:
© Ken Blanchard and Paul Hersey - Situational Leadership (www.kenblanchard.com)
The chart above illustrates the balance between Directive behaviour and Supportive behaviour in managing or supervising people.
- Directive behaviour is where you provide a great deal of guidance and direction in the task
- Supportive behaviour means providing a kind of moral support and motivation that keeps individuals focused on the objective
The following offers what may be a typical journey through the 4 quadrants, from new researcher, to a final year researcher:
Quadrant 1 - Directing
Typically, when starting out with a new researcher, you may spend most of your time in this quadrant - directing them in the task ahead. You may do a lot of ‘telling' in how to start managing their research, guiding them to the right places and in the right research approaches and so on. At this stage their motivation and enthusiasm is likely to be high, so they won't need much supportive behaviour - they need direction to get them started.
Quadrant 2 - Coaching
As your researcher becomes more familiar with their role and their work, communication is likely to become more two-way, and you may start seeking ideas and suggestions from them as to how they should progress. Your researcher may still need some direction, as they build up their experience, but they are also likely to need support and praise to build up their self-esteem. So, you will be showing both directive and supportive behaviour.
Quadrant 3 - Supporting
At this stage, your researcher is likely to have control of their task, and as much as possible, decision-making should be passed over to them. You may facilitate and take part in the decisions, but they have control. Your role is to bolster their confidence and motivation, and help them get through the mid-doctorate doldrums. See Keeping on track for further advice on this.
Quadrant 4 - Delegating
When researchers can manage their work and their own motivation, you need provide minimal direction and support. You will be involved with both decisions and problem solving, but it will be your researcher who drives these. This is likely to happen towards the end of their doctorate, when they feel comfortable with both their research and with their progress in writing up.
This model offers a guide to the different styles you may want to adopt with your researchers - it is not a definitive approach. How you supervise will depend on your preferred style, and the needs of each researcher. It can be beneficial for both of you if you work towards giving your researcher less direction and support as they progress through their doctorate. However, depending on the individual, you may find that you can operate in the delegating approach from the start, or that you have to operate in the directing approach throughout.