How much work is there?
- Ensure there are sufficient resources to do the work allocated:
- If there are insufficient resources seek guidance from management about priorities.
- Support your staff by helping them prioritise or renegotiate deadlines.
- Cover workloads during staff absences.
- Adjust work patterns to cope with peaks (needs to be fair and agreed with employees).
- If people are underloaded, think about giving them more responsibility, but make sure that they have been adequately trained.
- Strike a balance between ensuring that employees are interested and busy, but not underloaded, overloaded, or confused about the job.
- Develop personal work plans to ensure staff know what their job involves.
- Train staff so they are able to do their jobs.
- Implement personal development/training plans which require individuals to identify development/training opportunities which can then be discussed with management.
- Devise systems to keep training records up to date to ensure employees are competent and comfortable in undertaking the core functions of their job.
- Encourage staff to talk to you at an early stage if they feel as though they cannot cope.
- Develop a system to notify employees of unplanned tight deadlines and any exceptional need to work long hours.
- Talk to your team regularly about what needs to be done. This can:
- help you understand the challenges the team are currently facing and any pressures they are under;
- find ways of sharing the work sensibly and agreeing the way forward with the team;
- gain team cohesion and commitment to the work you have planned – the team is likely to be more responsive if it understands what needs to happen and by when. Allocating more work to an already stretched team without explanation is unhelpful;
- ensure shift work systems are agreed with employees and their representatives and that the shifts are fair in terms of workload;
- gain understanding and commitment to unplanned tight deadlines and any exceptional need for long hours;
- help you manage any unexpected absences or losses to the team – everyone knows the key stages of the project and what each other’s role is.
- Lead by example. [Endless laughter...]
- Have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to control physical hazards. Further information is available from HSE Infoline: 08701 545500.
- Assess the risk of physical violence and verbal abuse. Take steps to deal with this in consultation with employees and others who can help (eg the police, charities).
- Change start and finish times to help employees cope with pressures external to the organisation (eg child care, poor commuting routes).
- Ensure your risk assessments for physical hazards and risks are up to date.
- Provide training to help staff deal with and defuse difficult situations (eg difficult phone calls, aggressive members of the public).
Give more control to staff by enabling them to plan their own work, make decisions about how that work should be completed and how problems should be tackled (eg through project meetings, one-to-ones, performance reviews etc).
Allocate responsibility to teams to take projects forward...
Are you making full use of employees’ skills and abilities?
- Enrich jobs by ensuring that staff are able to use various skills to get tasks completed, and that staff can understand how their work fits into the wider aims of the unit.
- Talk about the skills people have and if they believe they are able to use them to good effect. How else would they like to use their skills?
How supportive are you?
• Give support and encouragement to staff, even when things go wrong. [More endless laughter...]
• Encourage staff to share their concerns about work-related stress at an early stage.
• Hold regular liaison/team meetings to discuss unit pressures.
• Hold regular one-to-ones to talk about any emerging issues or pressures.
• Value diversity – don’t discriminate against people on grounds of race, sex or disability or other irrelevant reasons.
• Seek examples of how the team would like to, or have, received good support from managers or colleagues – can these be adopted across the unit?
• Ask how employees would like to access managerial support – ‘open-door’ policies, agreed times when managers are able to discuss emerging pressures etc...
How well do you listen? [So much fun...]
- Listen to your staff and agree a course of action for tackling any problems – it is important for staff to feel that the contribution they make at work is valued.
- Involve your staff – they need to do their bit to identify problems and work towards agreed solutions.
- Talk about ways the organisation could provide support if someone is experiencing problems outside work.
- Disseminate information on other areas of support (human resources department, occupational health, trained counsellors, charities)...
- Work in partnership with staff to ensure that bullying and harassment never emerge as an issue. One way of doing this is by having procedures in place, such as disciplinary and grievance procedures, to deal with instances of unacceptable behaviour.
- In consultation with staff and their representatives, draw up effective policies to reduce or eliminate harassment and bullying.
- Agree and implement procedures to prevent, or quickly resolve, conflict at work – communicate these to employees.
- Agree and implement a confidential reporting system to enable the reporting of unacceptable behaviour.
- Communicate the policies and make it clear that senior management fully support them.
- Communicate the consequences of breaching the policies.
- Create a culture where members of the team trust each other and can be themselves while they are at work.
- Encourage your staff to recognise the individual contributions of other team members and the benefits of the whole team pulling together... [The building is shaking...]
From HEFCE: '... The section on leadership, governance and management looks at how establishing the Leadership Foundation for HE has been an important first step in addressing leadership development [code for leadership incompetence] and succession planning, with strong support across the sector. The Committee of University Chairmen (CUC) is increasingly proactive – for example, in the development of the new Governance Code – [The building is about to collapse...] and the profile of governance is rising. There is also evidence that HEIs are directing more funds towards leadership and management development...' [Put your helmets on!!!]
Anyone for a short course in Leadership? The Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.
'...Senior management teams face the challenge of creating and maintaining a positive working environment in their institutions. Sustaining a positive working environment and culture is a key objective of university policies, and many feel that the best way to achieve this is through emotional intelligence. Many factors may work against this including:
- poor performance management systems
- unmanageable stress levels
- [bully managers?]
The Leadership Foundation recognises that these factors may have a negative impact upon the performance of the institution and have a detrimental effect upon working relationships. The quality of leadership can play a key role in creating the climate and conducive to a positive working environment... Fee: £280 [We can't take it anymore...]