• Hour glass icon38 minutes : 6 minutes reading | 32 minutes video

The DIY guide to getting the best out of yourself and your researchers 

Session details

Date: 13 September 2022

A session with award-winning leadership coach Denise Chilton to discover how you can create a working environment where everyone flourishes. 


Denise Chilton, career and leadership coach, Denise Chilton Coaching

Session overview

You are responsible for the wellbeing of your researchers but what does that actually mean? How can you delegate more effectively and still feel confident that the work is going to get done without you having to step in and do it all yourself? How can you be more useful rather than helpful? 

Creating a great working environment is everyone’s responsibility and this session explored helpful techniques to help raise awareness of your impact on those you manage and help create a working environment where everyone flourishes. 

In this session Denise Chilton, a professional certified coach and leadership development specialist with over 10 years’ coaching experience, provides a range of strategies to help PI’s set and manage boundaries, resist the urge to take on too much and tame their inner rescuer when it comes to managing and developing their postdocs. 


Shared learnings

Wellbeing at work is everyone’s responsibility.

Designing the Alliance – How are we going to work together? 

Shared learnings

  • When starting to work with a new postdoc, think about how you can work well together. What works well for you, what is going to help someone get the best from you? And what about your new postdoc? 
  • Considering how you are going to work together at the start is easier than trying to broach a difficulty further on in the working relationship. 

Understanding your own preferences and making them aware of them (and helping them to communicate theirs to you) can help you find a working relationship that gets the best out of you both. For example:

  • Preferred form of communication (email, message, phone, in-person)? 
  • Big picture or fine details? 
  • Working from home or in the office? 
  • Thinking things though before responding or thinking as you talk? 

Helpful things you can decide and agree on early on include: 

  • Help people get clear on their role 
  • Set goals and agree on milestones 
  • How will you check in with each other? 
  • Preferred methods of feedback? 

Creating the Right Environment – Psychological safety 

Shared learnings

  • Consider how you want people in your team to feel. 
  • Psychological safety is key to the success of any team and is crucial for innovation and creativity. People feel psychological safe if they feel: valued, appreciated, included, that their contribution matters, that they’re listened to, that they have control of their work, that they feel safe to speak up and that they have permission to fail. How would a member of your team feel valued, appreciated etc.  
  • Every member of a team is responsible for the psychological safety of the team. 
  • Simple behaviours associated with psychological safety: follow through on small commitments, control your non-verbal cues, ask for feedback and help, say thank you, create opportunities to socialise outside of work, share past mistakes and explore learning, shift from ‘tell’ to ‘ask’. 
  • Many of the things that can create the right environment is considering how we humanise the working environment. 
  • Looking after yourself is as important as looking after your team – put your oxygen mask on first! 

Your impact as a Leader – Leadership Styles 

Shared learnings

  • Everyone has a leader within them (the leader inside) 
  • There are leaders in front, those who are ‘in charge’. 
  • There are leaders behind, those who work alongside who don’t want to be the leader in front, who put other people ahead of them and want to develop other people. 

Four broad styles of leadership – which works for you, what is your natural style of leadership, what are you managed by? 

  • Democratic leader – collaborative, communication goes both ways, team feel values and motivated, but it takes longer to make decisions and some people don’t want to be involved in decision making. 
  • Laissez faire leaders – provide little or no interference, instead provide tools and resources for people to solve problems themselves. Increases innovation and creativity but can result in a loss of direction. 
  • Autocratic leaders – make all the decisions, one-way communication, beneficial for inexperienced staff and when decisions need to be made quickly, but it can lead to job dissatisfaction with staff. 
  • Coaching leaders – encourage and empower staff to do things, provide plenty of feedback, help other to improve own performance, unlocks a person’s potential but it can take time for this to be effective. 

You should use different leadership styles for different people – what works best depends on the situation and the person you’re managing. 

Managing and appreciating differences – Communication and decision making 

Shared learnings

  • How do you communicate and make decisions – are you more a thinker or a feeler? Everyone is somewhere on the spectrum between ‘thinker’ and ‘feeler’ 
  • Thinker – detached and objective, tends to see situations from the outside. Applied objective criteria to consistent rules. Task-focused. Will think about the people involved but it won’t be their first thought. 
  • Feeler – involved, tends to see situations from within. Seeks harmony and judges importance of different values involved. Think about people involved first – if this decision is made, how will it affect everyone? 
  • Communication and helping styles tend to be very different and this can lead to issues if people aren’t aware. 
  • Be aware of your own style and consider the strengths of the style you don’t naturally lean towards, as well as your own. 
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