Stefan Grimm’s death leads Imperial to review performance metrics

Imperial is to undertake a review of how it uses performance metrics for staff after the death of one of its academics

March 27, 2015

Source: Smart7/Shutterstock.com

The recommendation follows an internal report ordered in the wake of the death of Stefan Grimm, formerly professor of toxicology in the Faculty of Medicine at the university, last September.

The academic had been told that he was “struggling to fulfil the metrics” of a professorial post at the institution and that he was under an “informal review process”. An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned at the West London District Coroner’s Court on 8 October last year.

The university instructed its director of human resources, Louise Lindsay, and Richard Thompson, senior college consul, to “review the relevant college policies and procedures”.

“Last year the College community was shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Professor Stefan Grimm,” writes Imperial provost James Stirling in a letter sent to Imperial staff today and seen by Times Higher Education.

“It should be emphasised that this review was not commissioned to investigate the circumstances leading up to Professor Grimm’s death; that is the proper purpose of the Coroner’s inquest that is yet to take place,” he adds.

Professor Stirling’s letter states that “competition and excellence make Imperial a highly demanding place”, and that the institution has “very high expectations of ourselves, of our colleagues and of the College”.

“At the same time,” he continues, “we have a duty of care to everyone who works at Imperial, and we are always looking for ways to improve our staff support services.”

Ms Lindsay and Professor Thompson submitted the conclusions of their review to the provost’s board on 27 February. All seven of the recommendations were accepted.

These are: an expansion of a programme to train volunteers to support people going on performance review; relaunching information on the employee assistance services to ensure it is current; giving regular HR training to managers; creating a guidance document for staff; asking managers to inform HR before commencing the informal reviews; creating a policy for performance management in the form of a “capability procedure”; and creating template documents for performance management, and ensuring all correspondence is reviewed by HR before being sent to a member of staff. 

The report also notes concerns about “the application and consistency of approach in the use of performance metrics in academia and in the college”.

It recommends that the college undertake “a wider consultation and review of the application of performance metrics within Imperial College”, with recommendations to be considered by the provost’s board in the summer term.

“We will do this and will circulate further details of our approach in due course,” Professor Stirling writes.

“I believe that implementing these recommendations will make a valuable contribution towards creating the culture and environment in which everyone understands what is expected of them, we support those striving to meet those expectations, and all are able to perform to their best.”

Ms Lindsay and Professor Thompson’s full report is available online.

chris.parr@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (1)

In this report of how to improve performance management practices, are there answers to the implicit criticisms against the treatment of Professors at Imperial, as found in the letter by Professor Stefan Grimm? Or is Stefan's loss, indirectly, being used "towards creating the culture and environment in which everyone understands what is expected of them"?

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Viewed

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Mitch Blunt illustration (23 March 2017)

Without more conservative perspectives in the academy, lawmakers will increasingly ignore and potentially defund social science, says Musa al-Gharbi