When implementing a succession scheme there are many considerations around the issue of stakeholder engagement. Here are some examples from the case study institutions.
We agreed beforehand what would happen if any senior managers said they wouldn’t take part. If I got a no, I went to that individual’s manager: ‘Fred's said no.’ If the manager confirmed the no, that was OK, though in one case eventually the SMT decided Fred was in the wrong job and he went back to being a great professor, leaving management to others.
We had a launch event for managers and staff, and it included a discussion of the support managers needed to give to the scheme. We said it would involve people being away from work, and emphasised that people would be away more than they might have expected. We said they should also find stretch projects for people to do. So we made it clear they had to put something in and they wouldn’t immediately see results – but then we also held an event for managers at the end of the programme too, with presentations from participants.
We’ve had some senior managers in the faculties making decisions about whether people have got through or not, then failing to tell people who haven’t got through because it’s hard to do. We keep chasing them. We think it’s really important not to let it drift so that this becomes the staff developers’ role.
The senior people acting as assessors do need to stay objective and focus on the evidence in front of them. The scheme organiser needs to be assertive sometimes and remind them to look at the evidence. It’s a matter of agreeing the rules and then sticking to them.