Updates from the Director of Human Resources of University of Bath. HR isn't just about running recruitment processes – it's integral to defining the University's strategy and making sure that we have the people and skills to deliver it.
If you type “Leadership” into Amazon, it says “1-16 of over 100,000 results”. In 2015, it was calculated that books on leadership were being published at over four per day. And that’s just those in the English language. It has become a real growth area in the last few decades and there are no shortage of books, development programmes and experts telling you how to be a leader. That can be pretty daunting for anyone, particularly if you are just embarking on a new role where you are expected to be a ‘leader’.
Learn to Love Leadership (3L) is the banner under which we are launching two new development programmes aimed at helping you learn, explore and navigate your way through the skills you need to be a leader. These will be very practical programmes which, over 18-24 months will help you gain a recognised leadership qualification. The programme will be a cocktail of coaching, classroom-based learning and project work tailored to your needs, but probably most importantly, you will go on this journey with others also looking to learn. And often those shared experiences – positive and not so positive – are the best way to develop.
Having skilled leaders is really important as we continue to develop as a University. Working with a good leader can be more enjoyable and help teams achieve more than they ever expected. And being a leader who makes that happen brings with it a great deal of satisfaction. Leadership involves a whole range of skills which can all be learnt and improved. These development programmes offer a real opportunity, and a real investment by the University, in building those skills. I do hope that many of you will take this opportunity and learn to love leadership. (We might even get some 3L badges produced for the alumni)
If you want more information on these programmes, Abi Lyons in HR is the person to speak to.
...of a Vice-Chancellor. This is how one of our plucky candidates described their day with us on the 26th June. I'm not sure that stressing our candidates by running this on the hottest day of the year is in the HR 'good practice handbook' but they all seemed to enjoy the range of activities we created for them. Sincere thanks from the Committee on the Office of Vice-Chancellor to all who took part; for the intelligent questions, for enduring the conditions and genuine interest in helping the candidates understand what we have at our unique University. For my own part, Marcelle McMcManus and I took each candidate on a tour of the campus which gave us an opportunity to talk to them a bit more informally. And, according to Marcelle's phone, walk 17km in the day!
On Friday, the Committee and members of the final interview panel spent 3 hours going through the feedback all the participants provided. Because we saw the candidates in a range of different scenarios we saw different aspects of their characters and variation across the events, much more than we would have seen through a simple interview. We have been through a lot of really rich data and now identified areas for the interview panel to probe on the 31st July.
So now our candidates go forward to the final interview panel. Each interview is planned to last over an hour, and the panel consists of:
Thomas Sheppard, the Chair of Council
Professor Julia Buckingham, VC of Brunel University as external adviser
Professor Veronica Hope-Hailey, Vice President (Corporate Engagement) and Dean of the School of Management
Eve Alcock , President of the Students' Union
Stephanie Lear, Head of Individual Philanthropy from the Department of Alumni Relations
Susanne Gebhard, Senior Lecturer from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry
The panel has been put together to ensure that again we are looking at the candidates from different perspectives. By the end of the 31 July we hope to have identified our preferred candidate for the role. It won't be until September that we can complete the approval processes, but hopefully we will then be able to announce our next Vice-Chancellor.
I've just read though the lyrics of the Beatles' track "A Day in the Life" from the Sgt Peppers' album. I was hoping to find a line which was appropriate for this blog, but nothing sprang out. Maybe I'll write a new verse.
Do you, like me, remember those seemingly endless car journeys as a child? "Are we nearly there yet?". Hopefully, the answer to our search for our next Vice-Chancellor is "just round the next corner" (another of my parents' favourites). This week we have the final five candidates visiting the University to learn more about us and for us to learn about them. Over the course of a day they will take part in:
a workshop with a small group of academic staff about how we sustain and build our academic reputation
a presentation on their vision for the University to a mixed audience of staff, Court and Council members
an executive meeting on the risks and opportunities facing this University
an engagement with students (organised by the SU, and will be a bit of a surprise)
a tour of the campus
If any of you have ever been through an 'assessment centre' as part of recruitment or promotion, you might recognise this approach. We are looking to test all of the parts of the person specification in a range of different scenarios. Thank you to all who are taking part on the day; I am sure that it will be an interesting experience for both candidates and participants.
All of the feedback from those events, and we expect quite a lot of it, will be brought together by the Committee on the Office of Vice-Chancellor to inform the final interviews on the 31 July. We will have learned a lot about the candidates through this process, and I am hopeful that we will then have enough information to identify a preferred candidate, and make an announcement in September.
So are we nearly there yet? I hope so, and I expect so do the candidates.
Internet myth has it that the title of this blog was a genuine advert for a job. It's either very foolish, or a clever way to attract attention in a crowded market. I'm sure that those in the School of Management who study these things would have much to say about the psychology of advertising. And now we are entering into the market to advertise our requirement for a new Vice-Chancellor.
We are advertising in the UK and overseas for the next month. The candidate information pack, which is now available on our webpages is a bit of a shopfront, giving potential candidates a snapshot of the University. This is a competitive market - Sheffield, Dundee and others are recruiting new Vice-Chancellors as well - and we want good candidates to be attracted to the opportunities at our University. But this recruitment process doesn't just rely on advertising. Saxton Bampfylde, our recruitment agents, will be researching the market and using their databases of potential candidates to approach people and give them a richer picture of the role. Experience from other Universities is that successful candidates are more likely to come from this 'targeted search' but we are casting our net wide. If anyone reading this knows of potential candidates (with relevant experience!), do point them in the direction of Saxton Bampfylde.
The job description, and more importantly the person specification, draw heavily on the engagement exercise we carried out in February. Our emphasis on values and leadership style is different to many other Universities. This is something we will emphasise throughout the recruitment process and when we design the detail of how we select our preferred candidate. Feedback from our recruitment agents is that this should be a very attractive role, and they have already received enquiries. I am looking forward to getting reaction from potential candidates and will try and give a flavour through this blog in coming weeks.