Managing for high performance
‘The staff of the University are our greatest asset’ – a cliché but nevertheless true. This familiar refrain, like others in a similar vein, often raise a hollow laugh in many staff because of the glaring mismatch they perceive in their daily lives between what their university says and what it does in practice. Managing university staff in your department then – motivating them, developing their competence, improving their performance, realising their potential and maximising their contribution – constitutes your biggest challenge as head.
The challenge is particularly tough, not simply because of the degree of internal malaise within many universities but also because of the peculiar character of the academic world: the penchant for peer review and collaborative decision-making; the autonomy of the individual scholar; the precedence of subject over institutional loyalty; the strength of tradition; the cult of the ‘expert’ and so on.
This chapter seeks to help you rise to this challenge. It explains how you can manage staff performance – the principles of performance management; the negotiation and agreement of SMART targets with individual staff; the measurement of performance; giving feedback to staff; tackling poor performance et al. – as well as improve the motivational climate within your department.