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Connect HR to Researchers

Posted on July 16, 2008

Hermi R. Woodward (bio) advises inviting HR into one's mentorship circle.


Extending your mentorship circle to include people other than your research and scientific mentors, to include administrators, to include data people, to include HR people. Make these connections or have somebody broker these connections for you, but have one-to-one interactions early.

We're starting a new program this year where for every grant cycle, we're going to have an in-person meeting of all the junior people submitting grants, any grants, and the pre-award people in the grants office. I want them to meet face-to-face. I want them to know who these people are. I want them to know that they're people and not machines cranking out their grants.

Conversely, we started a lecture series of PIs, and I always include junior investigators in this, lecturing about their work to the grant administrators. And we have these lunches where they bring all their project staff, and we bring all the grants people. And the PI gives a presentation about what it is that they are doing in their research.

And it has been enormously motivating. The grants people think, "Oh, this is such important work," or, "Oh, I have an uncle with Alzheimer's disease," or, "Oh, my sister's son has autism," or whatever the topic may be.

And all of a sudden, they become aware that this is one of the most prominent institutions in the country, that the people that they're serving are prominent researchers that are doing important work, that they can contribute to making this work possible.

And conversely, I found that the PIs dealing with administrative people, their natural tendencies are, those are the bureaucrats that are impeding what you want to do. Well, if they meet them and if there is a sense of motivation, of, "Let's get to know each other and let's work together towards this important goal," the interactions become very different.

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Excerpted from an interview with researcher at the 2008 Career Development Institute for Psychiatry in Pittsburgh, PA.


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