I have reached the point in my tenure track where I really need to start thinking about output. It's not that I haven't been doing that, obviously. Believe me, the first 2.5 years have been no picnic. While I continuously try to think of this whole business as a really long postdoc (after all, my 6-year tenure track contract is the longest I've ever head), I also know that I cannot just ignore the fine print. After all, my contract stipulates quite precisely (or, if you want to know my real opinion: my contract lists everything I need to achieve in order to get tenure down to the last insane decimal in terms of impact factors) what I need to achieve. On a good day, I will look at the list and be like: "well, that is what I, as an ambitious person would want to achieve anyway". On a bad day, I look at the same list and get a panic attack, because deep down I know that giving it my best just may not be good enough - in the end it is completely out of my control as to whether I get the grant or whether my paper is accepted for publication.
I have a serious mid-term assessment coming up and things are looking good (administrative surprises pending). In fact, I was ready about half a year before the scheduled date and started to prepare my package around that time because I know the bureaucracy at my University. It turns out that was wise: no one had any ideas about the procedures that needed to be followed and while everyone gave me the "oh it will be fine", no one actually gave me a hand to make sure I got to the only "fine" that counts: a positive evaluation in writing signed off by the proper, responsible person.
Would I have done things differently if it hadn't been for this mid-term assessment? No, not really. But I might have done things in a different order. I constantly got the advise: "the most important thing is to focus on your research". I am sure it was all well intended. I am sure they probably knew that I was not so naive as to think otherwise. But with demands on an X amount of teaching to be done and teaching certificate Y to be obtained and Z amount of cold-hard-cash to be brought in by the end of year three, you have very little choice to postpone course development and grant writing until your lab is up and running. What the administrative bureaucratic trolls seem to forget when they are drafting their list of bullet points is, for instance, that a course only comes around once in an academic year. Obviously, you are not magically teaching an X amount of hours in the curriculum when you are hired mid-way through the academic year. And all those people who say "you'll be fine" don't just offer you things on a gold platter. So, I used that first (incomplete) academic year to make sure I carved a niche for myself in the teaching curriculum in the second year, so that could actually fulfil X and Y by the time of my mid-term assessment. If I had not given priority to these things and had been only slightly more naive, it would have been practically impossible to meet my mid-term requirements.
Would I have been fine without doing it this way? Well, let's just say I saw what happened to another junior faculty member who didn't tick these boxes. Our tenure track is "up or out" and apparently that also holds true mid-term.
Did my research suffer? I did my best, but I am only human and if I am honest I have not been able to devote as much time to research and my awesome lab members as I wanted to. And so I am now getting to a point where I really need to make this my main priority for the second half of my tenure track. It's "up or out" and if I want to move up, the papers need to go out.