Leaked survey slates leaders

June 9, 2006

Sheffield Hallam staff have little faith in top managers, writes Phil Baty

Staff at Sheffield Hallam University have delivered a damning indictment of senior managers in an internal satisfaction survey leaked to The Times Higher .

The survey, which had almost 800 responses, finds that academics feel that the university has lost a sense of "collegiality" after staff delivered the worst possible satisfaction ratings in a host of crucial management areas.

The report on staff satisfaction with management, 2005-06, was carried out by Lee Harvey, of the university's Centre for Research and Evaluation and an expert in staff and student feedback.

Asked to judge overall management, staff found "many aspects unsatisfactory". Management issues that were identified as "very important" to staff but also "unsatisfactory" included leadership qualities, organisational management of the university, the ability to manage change, support and communication and openness and transparency.

The report says that the issues were seen as "very important and very unsatisfactory" in the faculty of arts, computing, engineering and science, and the faculty of organisation and management.

The report says: "There is dissatisfaction across all faculties with the ability to manage change and support and communication during times of change. There appears to be a perception that staff are not involved in decision-making, that perhaps the collegiality of higher education is no longer at the forefront of processes. The survey raised significant concerns about the academic profile of the university."

It adds: "Comments showed staff having little faith in the focus of the university and a belief that senior management have a totally different view of how the university runs to other staff."

In one section, staff were asked to rate their "overall satisfaction with working" at Sheffield Hallam, from 0 per cent (total dissatisfaction) to 100 per cent. Staff in the arts, computing, engineering and science faculty reported only 35 per cent satisfaction. The rating was 36 per cent in the faculty of organisation and management, and in the faculty of development and society, just over 50 per cent. In some specific divisions, ratings of just 18 per cent were given.

A university spokesman said: "Sheffield Hallam has been going through a time of significant organisational change since 2004 and the higher education sector is also rapidly changing. This is reflected in the most recent phase of our long-running staff satisfaction survey. Several areas received extremely positive results in this phase, and we are using these as models of excellence for the rest of the university. We already have an action plan in place to resolve issues highlighted in the report and have taken steps forward since the survey.

"We are committed to supporting our staff and are continuing to invest in management development. The high satisfaction of senior staff with the way they are managed by the executive reflects the success of our award-winning leadership development training.

"Staff further from the executive gave lower results for this, and as a direct result we have recently introduced a development programme for middle managers, which will build on the positive progress made as a result of the leadership development programme."

phil.baty@thes.co.uk

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