My newly-appointed line manager came to see me just as I was about to go home on a Friday evening. He asked me how things were. I said, “Oh, I’m absolutely stuffed, I’ve got no energy, I’m worn out.” He replied, “I’m not here to talk about that – I’m here to talk about your research performance.” In the discussion that followed he told me I should change the focus of our research. I explained that the work we were doing was slow and painstaking, but significant.
He was adamant about changing the focus, and I started to get more and more stressed. It was before the last research assessment exercise (RAE), and the vice-chancellor was saying he wanted the university to be in the world top 50 rankings, so my line manager was taking this as an excuse to do all sorts of things.