Strategic Leadership Team Update
Date: / March, 2009
Subject: / This is the first in a series of regular (monthly) briefings containing University-wide updates for all staff
Briefing guidance: / This briefing contains a summary of high-level, key messages to be used by the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) to support your face to face communications with your direct reports.
It is a balance of positive and challenging (bad) news.
It should be communicated verbally to your direct reports – and not circulated by email - and should provide an opportunity for them to give you feedback on the content
You should also add your own content, which is relevant to your support division, faculty or area of expertise
The briefing should enable your direct reports to brief their own people on the important issues facing the University
Encourage your direct line reports to add more localised information which should still be delivered verbally at each stage of the cascade
Allow at least an hour for the sharing of information and feedback
Communicate with passion and conviction and stay “on message”.
Highlights this month: /
- Arrival of VC Designate
- Staff experience survey update
- The need for change: Project Headroom and ROV
- Vision and values
- HEFCE grand settlement
- National Student Survey
- RAE outcome
- Widening Participation
- New Chancellor sought by University
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: FOR INTERNAL USE ONLYThe reason for the introduction of briefings: / The University acknowledges the need to keep its staff informed. Staff perform better when they are involved and when they have an open and honest dialogue with their leaders.
Organisations which communicate effectively are 4.5 times more likely to report higher levels of employee engagement than those that communicate less effectively.
Involvement creates “good will” and staff are prepared to go the “extra mile”.
Results of our recent staff survey show that only 39 per cent of our staff are engaged.
In addition, the SLT has highlighted three strategic priorities:
- Leadership at all levels
- Management of change
- Non-pay related recognition.
To begin to address this issue, the SLT is now introducing a regular (monthly) briefing with a view to the information being cascaded down through the organisation, and where team briefing processes already exist, to provide the strategic, high level overview of University activity.
This briefing will supplement the Vice-Chancellor’s monthly newsletter and US Online on the Staff Channel.
Business updates / 1. VC designate
The new VC designate, Professor Martin Hall joins the University on 15 April, 2009. From this date until 1 August, he will shadow VC Professor Michael Harloe who will continue to be responsible for the leadership and management of the University as Chief Executive Officer and HEFCE Accounting Officer until the end of July.
The current management and reporting arrangements will also remain in place until 1 August, when the SLT and other management arrangements will transfer to Professor Hall. Our VC designate will be based in the Old Fire Station. Arrangements are being put in place for him to meet staff in different parts of the University.
2. Staff experience survey update
More than 300 staff attended presentations by SLT members on top-level findings of the research throughout February. The presentation was also uploaded onto the web site:
Next steps are to communicate the local (School and Divisional) results.How we respond to the results and feedback, and the improvements we put in place, are crucial if we are to improve levels of engagement and satisfaction in the University.
The Staff Experience Survey Action Group, chaired by Keith Watkinson, HR Director, will be addressing how best to respond to the issues and questions that were raised at the briefing sessions. In addition, the Group will be looking at the three strategic priorities and what needs to be done at a university-wide and local level.
3. The need for change
The University has seen a significant amount of change and reorganisation during the last five years.
Competition in the higher education sector has never been so challenging and with the current economic climate becoming even tougher as the recession continues to bite, we must do what we can to ensure that our University survives and prospers
Two significant initiatives – Project Headroom and the continuation of ROV – are examples of the type of change staff are experiencing which we want to update you on.
Budget Review – Project Headroom update
As you know the Budget Review, called Project Headroom, has been undertaken to identify savings in 2008/09 of around £7.5million, with further cost savings of £5 million over the following two years. Our financial status is fundamentally sound, but our SLT has had to take action – fully supported by the University Council – to achieve the financial headroom necessary for the sustained level of new investment required to assure our future
It is proposed that these cost savings may result in around 150 job losses across the University. This will not erode the quality of educational services to our students. We are endeavouring to achieve these proposed reductions by voluntary means. We cannot however rule out compulsory redundancies.
The savings realised in Phase 1 were achieved through the voluntary severance and deletion of vacant posts and the remainder of the savings required were carried over into Phase 2. This has allowed us to continue to seek redeployment opportunities for those roles that remained at risk at the end of Phase 1.
We have received an encouraging number of voluntary severance applications from across the university and we are currently working very hard to match the voluntary severance requests to the roles that are at risk within the affected areas.
The requests that have been received are from both affected and non-affected areas. As we progress with decisions relating to voluntary severance applications we continue to examine the remaining requests to establish if they will provide “bumping” opportunities for those staff that remain at risk.
It will take the University time to ensure that all options have been considered fully and it is hoped that we can work with the Trade Unions to begin to release the voluntary severance applicants after the 16 April 2009 - this being the anticipated date for closure of the statutory 90 days consultation with the Trade Unions.
We may still be exploring ‘bumping opportunities’ after 16 April 2009 and though subject to discussions with the Trade Unions we would hope that this would not delay the leaving dates of the voluntary severance applicants.
It is important that you know that to support staff, the University does offer a free, confidential, independent, 24-hour employee support helpline which can be accessed via this link:
Realising our vision (ROV)
Under the ROV process a number of significant changes have taken place in the University over the last two years involving governance, the structure of the SLT, the creation of professional services and academic management
The next stages of this review are taking place at the moment. John Lauwerys, formerly Registrar of the University of Southampton, will soon be submitting his final report to the SLT following further discussions with staff in the University. ROV is expected to be completed by October, 2009.
4. Mission Vision and Values
The University has looked in depth at its performance over the last five years, through its “Rethinking the University” and “Deciding the Future” initiatives which focused on the need for reform of its governance, management and professional and corporate services.
ROV acted upon these recommendations and through this change process has put in place a leadership team in the senior and middle ranks of our academic and professional and corporate services teams.
Building on ROV, work on defining our vision for the future and our values is nearly finalised, and the SLT will be sharing this with the senior management team at its Spring retreat (on March 26 and 27.)
5. HEFCE grant settlement
We have now received the full details of our grant settlement from HEFCE. We are disappointed with the outcome as our grant will rise by only 0.6 per cent or £338,000, whereas the average for the sector is an increase of 4.1 per cent.
The details of the grant are complex but in relation to the teaching grant there is a new element which tries to combine a measure of teaching enhancement and student success. This new element plus other changes relating to student numbers appears to have lost the University about £1.2m in funding. We need to check all of this and ensure that we have not been underfunded for teaching.
But one important element that continues to penalise us is our poor retention rate.
6. National Student Survey
We have to improve our student retention rates and this, plus improving our scores in the National Student Survey, has to be the first priority for Schools and Faculties in the immediate future.
One of the crucial elements that determine our league table position is our rating in the National Student Survey and we have been working hard to improve our scores in the survey and most importantly to address the aspects of our teaching and learning that need improvement.
As at 23 March, 2009, we are now 1.69 per cent up on the results for the same time last year for the institution - an overall response rate of 44.58 per cent.
7. RAE outcome
The outcome of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the new funding methodology has not been positive for us and our grant for research income has shrunk by £957,000. That’s 11.5 per cent.
There is a need for a revision of our research strategy and our PVC (Research & Innovation) Professor Ghassan Aouad, will be bringing forward a new strategy to reshape how we manage our research going forward.
8. Widening Participation
A new, radical widening participation strategy has now been developed following a review of widening participation (WP). This new strategy will provide a framework for WP activity at all levels and across all academic departments and professional divisions of the University.
The main aim is to provide a high quality learning and working experience and ensure that we open up new opportunities for learning to all who can benefit from them.
9. New Chancellor sought by University
We are now looking for a new Chancellor. The five year term of office of our Chancellor, Professor Sir Martin Harris, ends on 31 July 2009. Sir Martin has indicated, regretfully, that he will not be seeking a further term of office owing to obligations arising from his recent appointment as President of Clare Hall Cambridge and other commitments.
Nominations are being invited from staff and from students by no later than Friday 27 March 2009. Recommendations can be forwarded in hard copy or electronically to:
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: FOR INTERNAL USE ONLYFaculty/Divisional communications
Record of notes and feedback from briefing session:
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY