Is Ian Blachford leaving?

QUESTION:

Why is there a position for Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development advertised – Is Ian Blachford leaving?

ANSWER:

Ian Blachford has been Executive Director of Corporate Services since the new Executive roles came in to effect on 1 September 2014. In addition to his responsibilities for the leadership of Student Recruitment and Admissions, Student Office and Personnel Services, Health and Safety, Equlaity and Diversity, he is also now the Clerk to the Board of Governors. In order to properly support the University, Personnel Services has recently been restructured and a new position has been advertised for a Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development – this role sits within Personnel Services and will report directly to Ian, leading on all aspects of HR and supporting cross-university organisational development.

Why was consultation on major change not undertaken anonymously?

QUESTION:
Can you explain why consultation on an import and major change such as the proposal to consolidate administrative support into three hubs was not undertaken anonymously?

Personally, I was very happy to be associated with my responses. However, these are very substantial changes being proposed, and they are open to considerable criticism. By forcing people to identify themselves, you risk stifling debate and using tacit fear to cow people into accepting your proposition. This is particularly true for the very Admin staff who are most affected.

I note that the survey questions themselves were hardly exemplars of survey design, with loaded questions throughout. Combined, this suggests very strongly a desire to consult only as a box-ticking exercise, rather than to properly inform major organisational change.

 
ANSWER:
We have recently held a number of all staff roadshows about changing our adminstrative structures and outlining the different options that are available to us. This has included the ‘hubs’ model, which we shared as the model that looked to have the most advantages for us, from this very early stage.

As part of these roadshows we made it clear that this was an engagement opportunity prior to any business case being worked up and prior to any consultation. This was a chance for staff to genuinely share their thoughts on this – about whether it would work or not, whether there were other options that would be better and the chance to feed in very detailed information about specific matters that we would need to take account of for any future design of any future structure. The most important part of the survey was about gaining a detailed understanding from staff about their roles and things we would need to take into account. We made it clear in the presentation that this was a chance for staff to share their own specialist knowledge with us, so that we could reflect on this as part of the development of the business plan proposal.

Given that this was the purpose it would be pointless for this to be anonymous – because the specific detail that staff shared we would want the opportunity to go back to and understand more – which we would not be able to do without a name. This was an information gathering exercise – not a voting process on a concept. I would also like to confirm that the thought that peoples comments if negative, were some how going to then impact upon whether they gained a role in the new structures is not logical. This is about designing the structure for our future based on business needs – not about engineering the removal of people based on whether someone was in favour of the proposed approach. This latter concern would somewhat defeat the object of this whole programme of work!

With the final point of the survey design, it is important to understand that this is not some abstract research piece. This was a practical information gathering exercise which was done with the best of intentions to ensure we had as much feedback as possible before designing the business case and before moving to consultation. It is unfortunate that genuine aims and a genuine chance to engage staff in a mature way has not been picked up by some.

Why are redundancies made?

QUESTION:
I have heard a lot of worrying rumours about redundancies.

Apparently seven IT specialists have already lost their jobs. The cleaners in the halls of residence have been given notice and the other cleaning staff are waiting to hear their fate shortly.

I am a little confused over this. I may well have missed something, but I thought that last year academic posts had been reviewed and this autumn it was the turn of admin staff. How do the IT people and the cleaners fit in with this?

Please could you confirm or deny these rumours and let staff know whether there are any further plans in the pipeline. I would also be interested in why these redundancies have been made. I hope it is nothing to do with savings being made in order to pay for the building works. It has been quite common in the FE sector, for example, to see brand new college buildings being paid for by laying off staff.

 
ANSWER:
Thank your for the question. The University will always attempt to ensure the highest levels of job security, in the context of our changing business needs. Recently the area of the Academic Development Unit has been reviewed and regrettably some redundancies are likely. There are also changes being made to the services provided in Commercial Services which has put some staff ‘at risk’.

We are working hard to try and redeploy staff wherever possible. I am unsure as to the reference to administrative staff in the question, but clearly the recent new ways of working roadshows explained to staff that structures are likely to change for a number of professional support staff areas post SITS implementation. On the latter point a recent all staff e mail signalled the opportunity for staff to get involved in this piece of work. We cannot comment on your understanding of the FE sector, but the changes are not linked to the building work being undertaken.

Will there be a faculty restructure review?

QUESTION:
Is there going to be a review of how the implementation of how well the Faculty Restructuring is going?  Specifically in the case of FACT where it was very much a takeover and not a merger.

ANSWER:
As colleagues will know, the Faculty restructure is in its early days of implementation. Whilst the majority of management roles were appointed to prior to Christmas 2012, some Faculties did not have a full complement of staff until March 2013.  Since that time we have worked hard, across the University to establish new ways of working, as people step into their new roles. Much of this work is ongoing.

Whilst this has been taking place we have kept under review how this is going. Executive will continue to work with both Deans and service Directors over the next few months to consolidate these new ways of working, and as issues arise these will be addressed. A full evaluation of the restructure at this stage is not planned, but emerging issues will be kept under review.