Enhancing engagement & positive culture - Glasgow Caledonian University

Context & challenges

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the UK are facing a number of strategic challenges. These include: internationalisation, which involves the recruitment and provision for the needs of overseas students; funding and sustainability, with income from research, teaching, and knowledge transfer and associated business development; market drivers, including fees and demographics; a performance culture, with influences that include organisational focus, government agenda, and ‘value for money’; the possibility of mergers and the need for differentiation; and decisions about the most appropriate form of leadership and management.

In relation to leadership and management, the issues include: a retirement bulge among senior academics; the need to attract new entrants; recognition that universities need to think of themselves as businesses; changing societal and government expectations; awareness of new approaches to leadership, management, and the psychological contract between employer and employee; and the importance of adopting an engaging style of leadership, and effectively managing and combining both appropriately.

Within this context, the University developed an integrated 10 year plan, which focuses on: – (1) Leadership; (2) Dealing with cultural change, leader as coach, and communication; and (3) Team building, empowerment and performance (creating an empowered high performance team). Running in parallel are four concurrent activities: incentives and recognition; strategic career development; management skills and competency development; and one-to-one coaching.

What we did

The intervention started with a five day senior manager programme for the Vice chancellor, Pro-vice chancellor, and Deans, which was delivered in three stages by Real World Group (RWG), using the TLQ 360 as the principal diagnostic tool. The programme was rolled out to 350 academic and administrative staff, who have participated in ‘Delivering the Vision and Managing People’ workshops.

In order to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the programme throughout the university, 55 internal facilitators/mentors were trained.

Results – enhanced engagement and positive culture

The benefits of the programme have been evidenced in range of ways including: 

  • culture, e.g. leaders have become more effective, the visibility of senior managers and HR has increased
  • a downward trend in grievance and harassment cases
  • individual experiences, e.g. developing new relationships with colleagues, developing or confirming one’s understanding of the challenges facing the university, developing colleagues’ perspective toward their leadership role
  • the initiation of cross-university leadership/management mentoring
  • creation of new cross-department courses and research projects
  • the foundations have been established for a longer term initiative and cumulative benefits based on maximising the experience, talent, and commitment of staff across the university.