"We will create opportunities to build the capability of our staff."
Talent: what have we achieved so far?
Appraisal and Academic Career Pathway Review
As part of our commitment to become a true listening organisation, we've been engaging with staff to gather feedback and take action to shape a better employee experience for all. One of the big frustrations for all staff has been the appraisal process, while those in academic roles have further raised concerns regarding the opportunities and framework for academic promotion.
The Staff Forum met in October 2018 and subsequently undertook a detailed feedback exercise with all staff to better understand some of the concerns that staff had. This process revealed that the current Appraisal process administratively heavy and time-consuming. It is not thought to deliver sufficient positive impact on job performance or career development, and there is a lack of cohesion and integration across the various performance management mechanisms at Queen’s. Career pathways for academics are unclear and Academic Standards are not an effective mechanism for measuring readiness for progression.
As a result of this engagement with staff, the VC has now announced that a review of the process is underway and Appraisal will not take place in their current format again. We have also collaborated with UCU to review and update Academic Standards and current career pathways. The Appraisal and Academic Career Pathway Working Group (AACPG) has been established (chaired by Professor Richard English, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation and Engagement) and also an associated Appraisal Sub-Group (ASG).
You can view the memberships of the AACPG and ASG here
Below is a summary of the progress to date:
- The Groups have met numerous times, and are engaged in wider processes of consultation and listening across Queen’s. The central aims are to improve Appraisal for all staff by making it more integrated, less bureaucratic, and more clearly oriented towards staff development and support. Alongside this, career pathways for academics will be similarly streamlined and will also focus on supporting staff development and progression. Both should therefore be less burdensome in their demands on colleagues across the University.
- We have revised the eligibility criteria for promotion to allow unsuccessful applicant to reapply the following year. There are similar changes for early-career colleagues on probation, with readiness for probation no longer fixed at three years but instead varying on a case-by-case basis.
- You told us that the Output and Income metrics for staff were an area of concern – particularly for those staff seeking progression via the teaching and learning route. We’ve listened to these concerns and have committed to applying the Academic Standards holistically, and also broadening the scope of Output and Income evidence to reflect the context of specific discipline.
- Staff have unanimously asked that any future Appraisal system should be simplified, focussed on development and support, and more fully integrated with career development and reward processes. The current language and tone associated with ‘Appraisal’ and 'Probation' are too negative and currently fail to capture the need for a positive, developmental mentoring process.
- Retaining both the Academic Standards and Academic Profiles creates duplication and confusion and a new system should retain just one set of profiles which can be reviewed through consultation at School/discipline level.
- The University is committed to a flexible recognition of staff contribution across various aspects of their work. The Education Pathway needs to be more appropriately reflective of educational achievement and must recognise equally the quality of Education-oriented academic colleagues, when compared with those who are also engaged in Research.
- Staff feel strongly that the Academic CV needs to be replaced with a more user-friendly alternative.
Further updates will be provided as the Groups continue to meet throughout the year.
- Learning and Development
Our last Staff Survey revealed that only half of you felt that there were opportunities for personal development and growth at the University. Staff are keen to have greater control over their learning and flexibility around how and when they access it, favouring bite-size development undertaken in real time.
To address this, we’ve refreshed our Learning and Development offer to ensure that all of our people have the chance to build their capability, empowering them to take responsibility for their own development while ensuring effectiveness in their current role and readiness for future progression. Our new offer recognises that development comes in lots of different forms, combining online training, coaching and mentoring, traditional training courses and more. There are opportunities for all staff to access development through Learning for All and LinkedIn Learning, and we’re introducing greater support for managers and leaders.
You told us that those with leadership and management responsibilities needed greater support and we've responded with targetted programmes designed to beteer equip staff in fulfilling these roles. This includes our newly launched People Managers Essentials programme and the new Leadership and Management Framework.
- Technician Commitment
Queen's hosted its first Technician CommitmentEvent in January 2019, celebrating the unique expertise and contribution of its 240 technicians. This national initiative aims to ensure visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines working in higher education and research. By signing the Technician Commitment, Queen's has pledged to take action on the key challenges affecting our technical staff as part of a journey to ensure visibility and recognition for our technicians.