Staff at once troubled Bournemouth University have decided to turn the tables on their managers and scrutinise their performance by setting up their own appraisal system.
So far the initiative, launched by the local branch of the lecturers' union Natfhe, has been limited to the departments of finance and law and marketing, advertising and public relations. But there is now to be a university-wide appraisal.
The appraisal, which was undertaken by more than 40 staff out of 90 contacted, shows that the most critically important qualities are a strong sense of direction, maintaining high standards, openness and good understanding of people. At the other end of the scale, effectively resolving conflicts and a willingness to take tough decisions were regarded as only moderately important.
Natfhe, which has passed on the information to the heads involved as well as the vice chancellor, says that such appraisal is fair as well as efficient as it provides useful information and profiles of managers.
Kevin Moloney, the chair of the branch, said that if staff were appraised, then it was sensible that managers should be. However, the university's head of human resources had warned staff not to participate because the exercise was too subjective.
"If that is true, it is also true of the downward appraisal of heads of departments, and their downward appraisal by the office of the vice chancellor, of the governors' appraisal of the vice chancellor and of the upward appraisal of us by students in course monitoring. It is a modest innovation in industrial relations and personnel practices in a modern university," Mr Moloney said.