Questions and Answers

Throughout the day, we had interactive sessions where the audience asked questions via Slido; since the conference we have gathered responses for these questions from various leaders across the university, which can be found here. 

Parity Between Professional Services and Academic Staff

What can be done to bring Academic and PS colleagues closer together and reduce the feeling of a ‘them and us’ culture / divide?

Fundamentally, we need to help staff to understand that we’re one Glasgow team, and that regardless of our roles within that team – teaching, research, catering, finances, even our Vice-Principals! - we’re all working together and pooling our expertise for a common purpose: the discovery and sharing of ideas that can change the world. If we get that sense of a common purpose right within the University community, I believe we will naturally see colleagues across the job families coming together and rallying around that cause, and getting that message across is a major focus within the next University strategy.

Campus Moves and Changes

Can you tell us more about the plans to develop the campus, including Garscube, to be more efficient and effective, as well as sustainable?

The university is investing over £1bn in the campus. This investment has begun and at the moment we are building the new James McCune Smith Learning Hub, Research Hub, Clarice Pears Building for the Institute of Health and Wellbeing and a new PGT Hub and Adam Smith Business School Building. All of these buildings will enable the University to provide 21st century facilities to support new approaches to pedagogy and collaborative research and all will help the University achieve its ambition of being world changing.

We are currently reviewing the next phase of investment. This review is looking at future new buildings however it is also looking at investment in the existing estate. This is to ensure that the existing estate is fit for purpose for the future, encourage more effective use of the campus and support reducing carbon targets. We will spend the next nine to twelve months reviewing and developing a detailed plan on investment in the existing estate.

We have in the last two years invested heavily in the fabric of the Joseph Black Building and as many will have seen we are currently investing in the Boyd Orr Building. All this work will help to support our ambition in addressing climate change; we have recently published a draft climate change strategy for the University that outlines a potential route to 'net zero' carbon emissions for our organisation. The strategy is based around improving energy efficiency on the existing estate, investment in low carbon heating and renewable energy technologies, along with efforts to reduce travel-related emissions. The draft strategy can be accessed here, and we hope to start a formal consultation on the proposals later in February.

Promotions and Progress

The focus for promotion often appears to be academic staff – what can you say about promotion and progression for PS colleagues and how does it link to PDR?

Academic careers and promotions are considered under one of five career pathways. Each of the areas of contribution may be represented to a different extent dependent on the focus of an individual’s role, as well as their career pathway. Regrading however is used where a role has changed substantially e.g. when a role has increased in size, responsibility, complexity or in some other significant way and it appears to meet the criteria of a higher level within the appropriate job family, as set out in the relevant role profile descriptors.

PDR is a joint process, with the line manager/reviewer, supporting and guiding staff members to define and achieve their objectives and progress towards appropriate professional development ambitions. Whilst, PDR can inform other processes where relevant, e.g. Academic Promotion, Regrading, etc. it is widely recognised that a meaningful PDR discussion is of significant importance and value to every member of staff and their respective line manager.

What development support is available to MPA staff? Would we consider a system whereby each member of staff has an “allowance” for development?

The University makes a comprehensive development offer available to all staff spanning development in skills, people management, using systems/IT, Health & Safety and Equality & Diversity. More details are available here.

We expect individuals to take responsibility for their own development, and to work in partnership with their line manager to identify where different types of development support will help maximise each team member's potential. Additionally, each year we invest in leadership development for senior managers and people leaders and many Colleges, Schools, Research Institutes and University Services departments invest in local development initiatives. The best way for this to work is as part of an ongoing dialogue between managers and team member/s and so there are no plans at present to create an "allowance" system for every member of staff as the needs could vary significantly between different areas of the business.


What can you share on plans for investment in IT systems to enable collaboration, effective working and complement the investment in estates?

As Professor Neal Juster outlined on the day, there is a technology investment plan being developed to underpin the new University strategy. Improvements for collaboration and effective working are fundamental to a range of proposed investments. One example is that we are currently building the case for replacing ageing telephony infrastructure with technology better aligned to flexible working and unifying communications and collaboration tools while also overhauling our videoconferencing tools.

Two transformation projects are already complete which have improved how we recruit and established robust technology to support the new ReachOut service. With other transformation projects underway to reimagine Assessment and Feedback as well as the Enrolment process, effective working and student experience are likely to see notable improvements. Having launched our first mobile app this year for timetabling and wayfinding, the potential for Smart Campus to grow on these foundations (using a multi-million point replacement of network infrastructure and bringing pervasive WiFi) is substantial with key themes already identified as "Health and Wellbeing", "Student Experience", "Sustainability and Optimisation", "Innovation", and, "Digital Infrastructure and Technology".

What can we do as an institution to protect time and create spaces for collaboration to create the environment for it to flourish?

The key here is to remove the burden of unnecessary or entirely manual processing tasks from colleagues. This can be done through more effective process design and/or automation but the net effect is to free up time to concentrate on what matters, including enhancing collaboration. The World Changing Glasgow Programme is beginning to address this but our aim is to embed a systemic culture of continuous improvement going forwards. Spaces for collaboration must be both physical and digital.

In terms of the physical estate, we are working with our partner Steelcase to look at innovative future working space design that encourages and facilitates collaboration. It is important that this aligns with our approach to flexible working and that it is supported by more effective digital communication tools. Plans are being developed for a unified communications platform to replace the current telephony system and this, alone, will be a major step forward.

Glasgow Professional

Is the same behavioural framework going to apply to Academic staff and if not, why not? How will it be implemented and enforced?

The Behavioural Framework provides a clear iteration of the positive behaviours expected of staff in the MPA, Technical & Specialist and Operational job families which underpins effective performance in role. It provides an underpinning framework for career development pathways across each of these job families.

The Research & Teaching job family did not fall within the scope of the initial project and the development of the Framework involved only staff in the Professional Services job families. However, given the positive feedback received from academic staff there may be an opportunity in the future to utilise the framework for academic colleagues, but this would require further discussion and consultation on the methodology to be applied to ensure fitness for purpose across all job families.

The Behavioural Framework is a tool which has been designed to help:

  • Identify and plan professional development to meet the challenges of your current role.
  • Develop a Personal Development Plan (PDP) in-line with your career aspirations, by considering those behaviours which you might want to develop to enhance your career prospects.

In the longer-term, it is envisaged that the Framework will be used for recruitment & selection, performance & development review discussions and for decisions about career progression.

How does the Glasgow Professional support progression and promotion and how do we find out what the opportunities are?

The Framework is designed to provide PS staff with a development tool. It provides a non-prescriptive guide to a range of behaviours, the use of which will help PS staff conduct and develop themselves in a way that should both enhance their work interactions with colleagues and also have positive implications for the way in which they achieve their objectives. It can also help each of us to consider those behaviours that may be required for the purposes of career progression and to seek out opportunities to develop these.

Opportunities for career progression can be sourced via the University’s vacancies website (accessible via CoreHR for internal staff), advertised secondment opportunities and developmental discussions with line managers through both the formal and informal PDR process.


Will we consider secondments for development purposes?

Absolutely. The People and Organisational Development Strategy being developed as part of the University's 2020-2025 strategic planning process will explore a range of options for developing talent and secondments / rotation are likely to feature as part of the development approach.

We recognise that they can be time consuming to administer and have the potential to be disruptive to the existing teams workload and rhythm, so will look to local teams to help determine the demand for and suitability of these as part of the overall approach to developing colleagues. Ideally we would love to be able to explore the use of these not just within UofG, but potentially also to other related organisations (e.g. other HEIs or Public Bodies), but that may take some time to explore and establish.

How can we manage them to minimise disruption given the workload we have?

Ultimately this is a question for local management as this has the most informed view of the local workload - we recognise that offering an existing team member this by way of a development opportunity ("secondee out") has potential to disrupt the team and ideally would want to see that accompanied with a proposal for a "secondee in" that allows the workload to be picked up and/or reallocated within the team (which of itself, could offer development opportunities to other team members). Where that isn't possible, the secondment manager will need to work with HR and their own management to agree some element of backfill and/or a change in portfolio or effort prioritisation to accommodate the change in capacity of the team.


How will the Glasgow Professional be incorporated into / work alongside PDR?

In the first instance, we intend to weave the Behavioural Framework into the question set around values and contribution to the University community. This will be introduced for PS staff in this year’s PDR round, and it may be that we elaborate on this further in future years.

Line managers will be encouraged to make use of the Behavioural Framework in PDR discussions, including coverage of the how the person has gone about meeting their objectives in addition to what has been achieved. Consideration should also be given as to whether the individual has any behavioural development needs, the meeting of which could enhance the quality of their work, the ability with which they lead and manage their team (where relevant) or how they interact with their colleagues.

Will we see 360 degree feedback for senior managers that pick up behaviours?

The University already uses 360 degree feedback as part of developing senior managers who are participants on our Aspiring, Emerging and Strategic Leadership programmes. These explore a range of perspectives on the individual's behaviours and inform the coaching and development support that is then offered. We are also considering whether this should be rolled out more widely.