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Getting the best out of our staff

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Presentation on theme: "Getting the best out of our staff"— 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 ‘Best practice’ - all organisations can and should adopt a set of human resource management practices for the combined benefit of the organisation and its employees : but which ones are the best “set” to adopt? ‘Best fit’ - to experience competitive advantage, ‘progressive’ HR practices need to be aligned with business strategy: the organisation has to choose the appropriate practices: but complex to work out which are appropriate ‘resource based view’ - focuses on the internal resources of the organisation rather than treating factors external to the organisation as the main driver of HR. Focus on adding value and competitive position. Types of resources: physical (technology and equipment) human (experience and knowledge) organisational (structure, systems planning, monitoring and controlling) 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? Don’t forget about physical things – re-organisation and not enough people can be a problem … Refer to Sheila Gupta presentation later on how to manage people We will focus on the organisational aspects

5 Challenge 1: The organisation is not simple
Students with a qualification Students Approving and providing programmes Enhanced or new knowledge Supporting research Knowledge There are other things that could be included … purchasing of services to support these processes etc … Supporting the development of society An improved society Society

6 Challenge 1: The organisation is not simple (2)
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO? Ensure that structures and systems are effective and designed to support what the organisation is there to do This will require a clear strategy which is understood and disseminated at all levels “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
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO? Recognise that people think differently Beware of the “hard” mechanistic view when dealing with those who are more “touchy-feely” as it can put them off Recognise that things change – and pursuing harmony may be unrealistic Think about your own view and how it influences the way you work “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
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 ( ) 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)
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO? Find out what motivates them Design systems to support this Recognise this in times of inter-personal conflict Academics are egotistical – a lot are motivated by their own glory (and the promotion system rewards this); not by working in a team (reference lunch conversation with Jackie – why aren’t people (academics) nicer to each other? Because they aren’t motivated or rewarded to do that) – Ability, motivation, opportunity

13 How did it affect students and staff?
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? We’re in a terrible state with the student admin. They have put a new computer system in, but quite frankly it doesn’t 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 don’t know who is going to turn up and then they complain too because students are late or missing. WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO? Provide them (Obviously!) When you can’t, explain why and think about (and act on) the impact this will have – don’t just assume that staff will cope.

14 Challenge 5: Effective communication is often difficult to achieve
Complicated Two-way Influenced by culture Involves listening Engagement important WHAT CAN WE DO? Think about HOW you communicate Think about WHEN you communicate Think about WHY you communicate More in Andrew West presentation

15 Often difficult to mobilise staff to work as a ‘single team’ when:
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 ( ) 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 Easy to say – less easy to do Words not originally from academic research but from health service research – where managers and doctors working together can be a very big issue – even made great TV in UK last year when leading business “guru” tried to ‘cure’ the NHS – and found it much harder than he thought Last week met HR Director from UoM – still finding out about this sector after 12 months – and spoke on the same platform as the HR Director of the NHS – who was previously at Tesco and is finding out that things are different there too – mainly because of the professional loyalties of those in the workforce.

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