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

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Presentation on theme: "Getting the best out of our staff Russell Ashworth Head of Faculty Administration, Faculty of Humanities The University of Manchester."— Presentation transcript:

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

6 Challenge 1: The organisation is not simple (2) The President Faculty 3 School 1 Faculty 2 School 2School 3 Faculty 1 School 4School 5School 6School 7School 8 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 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 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)

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

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 The situation at work How did it make you feel? How did it affect students and staff? Were in a terrible state with the student admin. They have put a new computer system in, but quite frankly it doesnt work, so. It takes four times as long as before to book students onto courses Everybody is highly stressed because the staff are under enormous pressure. People dread coming to work. You feel so helpless really because there is nothing you can do about it. Students cant get through on the phone so there are loads of complaints when they do start the course. Staff dont know who is going to turn up and then they complain too because students are late or missing.

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 Case study: Student System Project (4) Outcomes 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

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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