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Getting the best out of our staff

Getting the best out of our staff. Russell Ashworth Head of Faculty Administration, Faculty of Humanities The University of Manchester. The plan …. The theory … The challenges … The proposition … The case study … The learning points The end ….

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Getting the best out of our staff

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  1. Getting the best out of our staff Russell Ashworth Head of Faculty Administration, Faculty of Humanities The University of Manchester

  2. The plan … • The theory … • The challenges … • The proposition … • The case study … • The learning points • The end …

  3. Theory: people and organisations that perform well • ‘Best practice’ - one best set of ‘people’ things to do • ‘Best fit’ - which ‘people’ things you do depends on your organisation • ‘Resource based view’ - maximise the contribution of all resources: • physical • human • organisational As usual (?) academics don’t agree … but RBV is trendy and makes sense to me

  4. More about resources • physical (technology and equipment) • “hygiene factors”? • human (experience and knowledge) • performance is a function of ability, motivation and opportunity • organisational (structure, systems planning, monitoring and controlling) • Strategy and management?

  5. Challenge 1: The organisation is not simple Students with a qualification Students Approving and providing programmes Enhanced or new knowledge Supporting research Knowledge Supporting the development of society An improved society Society

  6. Challenge 1: The organisation is not simple (2) “Operating in a matrix management structure in a highly political environment”

  7. Challenge 1: The organisation is not simple (3)

  8. Challenge 2: People in the organisation think differently about it “The fundamental problem is a paradox between • calls for a common set of values and • the need to recognise that academics and managers do and should think differently”

  9. Each of his own opinion exceeding stiff and strong, though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong “The blind men and the elephant” J G Saxe (1816-1887) An elephant is like a brush An elephant is like a rope An elephant is like a snake An elephant is soft and mushy An elephant is like a tree trunk

  10. Some unanswered questions Why is it easier to work with some people than others? Why do administrators always stop us doing what we need to? Why do people misunderstand me? ? What do academics actually do? Who is in charge? Who can make academic staff do things?

  11. Challenge 3: staff are motivated by different things • Financial reward • Status • Job Satisfaction • Recognition for a job well done • Being part of a successful team/unit/organisation • Management engagement/opportunity to participate in decision making • Politics

  12. Challenge 3: staff are motivated by different things (2)

  13. Challenge 4: Physical and financial resources impact on staff morale and motivation

  14. Challenge 5: Effective communication is often difficult to achieve • Complicated • Two-way • Influenced by culture • Involves listening • Engagement important

  15. Challenge 6 – many administrative activities cross organisational boundaries • For example: • Processes • Projects • Often difficult to mobilise staff to work as a ‘single team’ when: • No line management • Staff have local teams and sub-cultures • Processes need to work across different organisational units

  16. Proposition – we will only get the best out of staff if we manage this complexity effectively • Need to organise and mobilise • Have a clear strategy and plan for taking a service forward or delivering the project • Ensure effective leadership (vision important) • Champion a single team approach • Ensure lines of accountability, responsibility and control are clear • Implement a management structure to deliver engagement and buy-in • Effective communication is vital

  17. Case study: Student System Project at the University of Manchester • Major project to implement Campus Solutions post merger • Not just a student records system: • Self service • Electronic processing • Essential conditions: • Accurate information and data • Effective process management • November 2005 – project falling behind key milestones • Challenge – get buy-in from “business owners”, agree and implement necessary changes to business processes and mobilise staff

  18. Case study: Student System Project (2) • What did I do? • First engaged with business owners to get buy-in • Vision and realistic plan agreed • Set up project management structure • High level Steering Group • Groups to lead process change in each area • Set out clear lines of responsibility, accountability and control • Implemented communication strategy: • Managers, users and all • Engaged with staff face-to-face to get buy-in

  19. Success: Created a sense of team and commitment in the high level management group and New arrangements and greater buy-in created a renewed momentum across the project as a whole Had structure in place to identify and solve most problems as they arose As a result got through registration and averted some major risks to the institution Mistakes: Failure to engage sufficiently with academic community Failure to properly understand and deal with the sheer complexity of the project Case study: Student System Project (4)Outcomes

  20. So, we all need to: • Realise that it is more than knowing the rules and the theory • Understand perspectives • Communicate effectively • Engage in dialogue on key issues – lunches and meetings • Be honest about the constraints under which we work • Recognise that imposed change does not work

  21. As managers and leaders we need to: • Lead by example: • Ensure there is a vision and strategy • Engage with stakeholders • Strike the right balance between being directive and consulting/listening • Seek to balance the interests of different levels and groups • Be clear to junior staff about priorities and rules • Involve academics fully in management and resource decisions • Be prepared to put our heads above the parapet: take decisions and stand by them • Build on success: Effective execution builds credibility and support

  22. The skilled administrator … • Ability to achieve buy-in • An ‘ear to the ground’ • Analytical and problem-solving • Effective project manager • Resolves tensions through dialogue and seeks a consensus “Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D Eisenhower (1890 - 1969) US Statesman

  23. So academics need to: • Accept that all academic decisions have resource dimensions, • Recognise that academic autonomy has to be balanced with transparent accountability, • Support the systemisation of academic work, • Share power when working in teams • Engage positively with managers and administrators

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