How individual development needs are shaped by organisational needs

Last year OCSLD’s priority was a review and refresh of our portfolio of courses and services, to ensure our portfolio continues to meet the needs of staff.

At the Senior Management Conference in May 2012, Paul Large described Oxford Brookes as an institution in constant change. Part of our portfolio review has been asking ‘what kinds of staff development are needed for staff working within an organisation in constant change?’. First, we need good managers who support their staff through change. We were encouraged by the positive responses in the staff survey to how people feel about their immediate line managers and we are continuing to embed the ‘manager as coach’ approach in all our courses. Second, we need staff to be able to quickly function in new roles. As well as offering tailored staff development for those new to role, we are reorganising the way we present information on our courses, to help staff choose staff development appropriate to their new roles. Third, and perhaps most challenging, Oxford Brookes will need agile staff who thrive in such a changing environment, and HR structures which make it easier for staff to move around the institution, developing their career within Brookes.

What other kinds of skills and attributes will we each need to take Oxford Brookes where we want to be as an organisation? For example, if we want to belong to an institution that aims to ‘enable a student experience of the highest standard possible’, what does that mean for me and you as individual members of staff? The Putting Students at the Centre change programme has been used by the Directorates as a springboard for examining their interactions with students, the customer services skills of their staff and ultimately improving their services for students. In order for Brookes to continue to be an institution with high aspirations for providing an exemplary student experience and cutting edge curriculum, we must all become accustomed to examining own own practices in such ways, collecting and using data to help, without feeling it as threat to our professionalism and autonomy. Our work supporting academic leaders provides safe spaces to discuss these challenges and develop a culture of continuous improvement.

I’ve just finished writing the OCSLD Annual Review for 2011/12 and it was striking how some of our new activities bring together individual and organisation needs. Here are just a few highlights:

These are just some of the ways in which consideration of how individual needs shaped by organisational needs is becoming an important focus for OCSLD. There’s more to come this year…..

About the author

Rhona Sharpe

Rhona is Head of the Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development at Oxford Brookes University. Her interests are around developing and tutoring online courses, developing learners for a digital age, and  pedagogic research. Rhona is one of the co-founders of ELESIG (Evaluation of Learners’ Experiences of e-learning Special Interest Group), a Senior Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a National Teaching Fellow. She is Editor of the Brookes eJournal for Learning and Teaching.

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