Taking on a new job is always difficult, but it is especially challenging during times of change. On joining the MIT Press in the economic downturn of 2003, its director faced a climate of recent layoffs and financial deficit. Morale was low. The director prevented further layoffs by collaborating with department managers to reduce spending and increase revenue, soliciting input and offering support through uncertain times. Her staff meetings have components that inform and engage, including presentations on major disciplines, conversations with MIT authors, talks by staff on the substance of their jobs, and the requisite business of sales and strategy. She gave the staff a chance to speak anonymously through a survey and acted on their feedback, in particular, on the issue of employee reviews and supervisor training. She also enlisted Human Resources to hold focus groups to involve Press employees in defining a vision of their shared future.
Today, the Press is financially healthy and its staff feel valued. The director’s open-minded, insightful, and systematic approach to change has built a better working environment. Congratulations, Ellen Faran, for Bringing out the Best of the MIT Press.