• Hour glass icon62 minutes : 4 minutes reading | 58 minutes video

Productivity and professional development

Session details

Date: 22 November 2022

Session speaker

Dr Hannah Roberts, career and leadership coach, Hannah Roberts Coaching. 

Session overview

How can you support your postdocs to increase their productivity, work on their careers and maintain healthy balance between the two? 

It is challenging for postdocs to maintain momentum while managing multiple competing projects, demanding deadlines and simultaneously taking steps forwards in their own professional development.

This workshop covered: 

  • How to support your postdocs to master the ability to prioritise and focus their workload using a five-pillar system and high-performance habits. 
  • How to facilitate non-confrontational conversations around saying no, reclaiming space where a boundary has slipped and eight steps to effective delegation. 
  • How to flex your leadership style to bring the best performance out of your postdoc by introducing regular structured feedback sessions where postdocs do not take feedback personally and instead welcome feedback for their rapid growth and learning. 


This part of the session laid out the intended outcomes and learning objectives and explored the challenges around energy and effectiveness. 

Shared learnings

  • Effectiveness is related to energy levels. You might have time but no energy, or you might be very active but have little time to get everything done. 
  • Being ineffective is linked to different barriers. Some of these barriers are self-created, such as procrastination. 
  • Ineffectiveness is perceived differently by each person. There is no right or wrong. 

Taking maternity leave as a postdoc

This part of the session explored the experience of the speaker taking maternity leave while being a postdoc and how this influenced her decision-making around her career.

Shared learnings

  • Many things influence career decisions, some are on a professional level, some are personal. 


This part of the session explored how to support your postdoc in becoming productive, through examining ways of establishing priorities. 

Shared learnings

  • To create a stable platform for growth, it is important to pay attention to every aspect of life, personally and professionally. 
  • Performance cannot be equal and constant in each aspect of life. Auditing one’s performance is an important step to identifying opportunities for growth. Keeping track of progress in each aspect will help to maintain balance in life. 
  • Using different tools to keep track of progress and setting regular checkpoint meetings can help your postdoc feel more confident in their own development. 


This part of the session explored the concept of boundaries, their importance, and laid out some ways of setting these boundaries. 

Shared learnings

  • Setting boundaries is an essential step for keeping balance in life and maintaining priorities. Setting boundaries is also related to what importance we assign to something or someone the boundary is linked to. We can stretch ourselves and our boundaries when these are connected to someone that we love. But similarly, we may be unwilling to do the same for someone that we don’t value as much. 
  • Conversation around boundaries can feel hard and confrontational, but there are ways to address boundaries while being respectful. 
  • The best way to help each other, and especially your postdoc, is to model what good boundary setting looks like. 


This part of the session explored ways of providing feedback in a constructive way, as a leader. 

Shared learnings

  • Feedback can often be perceived as criticism. 
  • Communication as a leader is essential and it must enable the receiver to feel empowered in their own growth. 
  • Feedback must be constructive, but it is ultimately the receiver that should decide whether to act on it or not without feeling forced one way or another. 
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