Researchers into Management
- University of Manchester
- North West
- Date first submitted:
- 21 Jul 2009
- Date last modified:
- 24 Mar 2011
- Relationship to RDF:
- Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities
- Domain B: Personal effectiveness
- Personal Qualities
- Professional and career development
- Domain C: Research governance and organisation
- Professional conduct
- Research management
- Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact
- Working with others
- Researcher-led activities
- Personal effectiveness
- Research project skills
- Academic practice
- Career development
- Leadership and management development
- Research staff
Impact Level 4: Outcomes
Some comments at http://www.researchersintomanagement.manchester.ac.uk/feedback/index.html
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
This accredited programme is for Research Staff across the University of Manchester. It wsa initiated in response to a need for management training for early-career research staff, which would equip them for careers in a range of employment sectors.
This programme is accredited by the ILM as a Level 5 Award in Management and Leadership. This ensures commitment to the whole course, and was a key motivator for applicants.
From the course website:
What is the investment?
Participants and their line managers must be committed to full participation in the programme. This involves seven workshop days spread over four months, plus a two-day intensive residential workshop. Participants will complete an individual project (2000 – 4000 words) and a work-based assignment (1500 - 2500 words) which integrate and apply their learning. There is also some required reading, and interaction with course colleagues via the online community space.
What is the broader context?
Researchers into Management is one of many initiatives at the University of Manchester which address RCUK guidelines and Recommendation 5.3 of the Roberts Review, "that HEIs take responsibility for ensuring that all their postdoctoral researchers have a clear career development plan and have access to appropriate training opportunities - for example, of at least two weeks per year" (SET for Success, HM Treasury, 2002).
Researchers into Management helps fulfil the obligations of the Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers, which the University of Manchester is committed to. "We believe that the provision of well-trained, talented and motivated researchers is essential to the continuation of research excellence within the UK research community and that the adoption of the Concordat’s key principles will strengthen further the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers in the UK." (Prof. Simon Gaskell, Vice-President for Research, Concordat letter pdf ) The Concordat’s principles state that:
- Researchers are recognised and valued by their employing organisation as an essential part of their organisation's human resources and a key component of their overall strategy to develop and deliver world-class research. Concordat Principle 2
- Researchers are equipped and supported to be adaptable and flexible in an increasingly diverse, mobile, global research environment. Concordat Principle 3
- The importance of researchers' personal and career development, and lifelong learning, is clearly recognised and promoted at all stages of their career. Concordat Principle 4
- Individual researchers share the responsibility for and need to pro-actively engage in their own personal and career development, and lifelong learning. Concordat Principle 5
Researchers into Management supports the values, vision and goals of the University of Manchester’s 2015 Strategic Plan:
- A People-centred institution - that values its staff as its most precious resource, supports and encourages them in their career development,… communicates effectively with them and seeks to provide them with a dynamic, exciting environment in which their contributions are valued and their successes recognised and rewarded. Manchester 2015 Vision
- The importance of making the University a safe, rewarding, environmentally sustainable workplace in which all staff are encouraged and enabled to enhance their skills, develop their careers and realise their full potential. Manchester 2015 Values
- To maintain management systems, processes and services at all levels of the University that are open, supportive and empowering, responsive to academic needs, strategically focused and exemplary in meeting all internal and external obligations and responsibilities, and able to provide the University with a competitive advantage in its pursuit of the Manchester 2015 Agenda. Manchester 2015 Goal Seven - Efficient, Effective Management
- To maintain the University of Manchester as a collegial community to which staff of the highest calibre are attracted, and within which all staff, whatever their roles or functions, may be proud of their University, are able to identify with its aspirations and are informed, enabled and encouraged to take appropriate responsibility for its direction, development and management. Manchester 2015 Goal Six - Empowering Collegiality
Participants are equipped both to work more effectively in their current roles, and to take on future challenges.
What do participants gain?
- Skills and tools to be effective managers
- Understanding of how to lead and manage effectively
- Individual assessment of their current attitudes and behaviours in a managerial capacity, and understanding of their own strengths and capabilities
- Insight into managing projects and people in academic, business and industrial contexts
- Confidence to expand their professional capabilities
- An internationally-recognised award from the Institute of Leadership and Management.
Individuals who participate in this programme will bring their skills and understanding into their current workplace. They will be better equipped to:
- Manage projects successfully
- Supervise and guide students skilfully
- Engage well with project partners
- Understand team dynamics and work effectively with others
- Professionally work with their line managers
- Lead and contribute to meetings
- Think strategically within the research environment
- Take responsibility and initiative in their current environment
- Communicate more effectively.
Specific aims and objectives are detailed in the programme sections of the course website http://www.researchersintomanagement.manchester.ac.uk/
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
The programme is open to early-career Research Staff with an interest in developing the relevant skill areas. No prior management experience is necessary, although the majority have at least supervised students.
We have been over-subscribed for the first four cohorts of the course, and selection of applications is based on the case made for the appropriateness of this course at this particular point in their career, and the benefits of the course to that individual (and their colleagues). All applicants had to confirm that they had agreed their PI's approval for full participation.
The ILM stipulate an induction session prior to the course, to ensure participants know what they’re committing to. We initially used a high profile University-wide conference for Research Staff (www.21centuryresearcher.manchester.ac.uk ) to run two 60-minute induction sessions which included taster material on Leadership versus Management – making the workshops useful as stand-alone training regardless of whether participants subsequently applied for the programme. Subsequent runs of the course have a similar information and induction session, which includes lunch with previous participants.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
The points listed under Aims and Outcomes are queried using the methods described under the Evaluation section.
Some quotes from participants (pasted from the course website):
I would definitely recommend the course. One of the best I have attended on personal development offered by any of the institutions I have been working for.
Excellent course, enjoyable and highly beneficial. I believe that I have and will benefit from this course for a long time to come, and the professional qualification is an excellent addition to my CV.
It gives you more options, it sharpens your tools and gives you information on how you can achieve things in different ways.
This course has helped me a lot, it has given me a lot of confidence in doing this [senior post-doc job] effectively, so I have really benefited.
It gives you that confidence to go and actually manage people, before we might have gone and think you know how to manage people but it gives you that confidence to go and actually you know a bit more about different management styles and how to asses different situations and evaluate things.
I don’t think that I had too high expectations when I started the course. Yeah, you learn a bit of skills, you get a certificate out at the end. That is really good. I never in a million years expected to get out of it what I got out of it at the end. I have to say it was a really, really positive experience… I think I benefitted a lot from the RiM programme, because, I learned a lot about communication and how to engage properly with people. How to plan things in advance and all of that, and I have to say, I am very happy in the situation that I am in now, because I am more pro-active in what I am doing.
I got a better understanding of what the role of management is in the context of higher education, and also learnt a number of skills that will hopefully help me transition into such a role more smoothly when the time comes. I also learnt a lot about the importance of effective communication and feel I have become more confident in communicating with my colleagues.
I believe that I received a lot from the course in terms of my understanding of management protocols, and why actions occur in a particular order. Also, why communications and the lack of such cause serious problems in the management of any organisation, especially those of academia where the staff being managed have a significantly different attitude to those of other companies.
I personally found everything useful / enjoyable - as the review of previous work and potential misconceptions has allowed me to grow as a person and as a potential manager.
It was thought provoking that it made me think about how I act and react and for me the course was useful more on a personal level. The best part of it was about communication and I think that helped me a lot and that is also one of the things that I really use daily at least.
I was able to explore my own, and gain insight into other people’s leadership/management styles.
More confidence in my abilities. A better perspective of what is necessary for the successful completion and management of a project. Lots of ideas on management that I hope to use in the future.
I think that the biggest change since this course is in my planning has improved quite a lot. But also because very often you have to almost think on your feet, because things go wrong and you have to [realise] this route is not going anywhere and you have to try something different. The way I used to do it previously, I just went and did. And did not really know how to communicate, so that was really hard for me, people would go ‘So why did you do it?’ to try and explain it properly, but now when I do something I actually plan it out also reason it, and it is so much easier to explain to people why I am doing A and not B.
I am quite pleased. By doing this course I have been able to do things in a quiet way without offending people. It has been quite good. So I think a lot of people are going to benefit.
I just feel very lucky I have been given this opportunity really. I now have to pay for a number of courses, finically or giving up my free time. So to have this has been excellent really. [In my new job] you have to make a business case, why you are deserving of it and what benefit it is going to be for the [employer], so you really have to fight hard, to go on any courses.
I expected a management course full of theory etc., but in reality experienced a stimulating, interactive and interesting learning experience.
I expected a balance of theory and practice and believe this was met. The content within both aspects, however, exceeded what I expected as it was challenging and stimulating - perhaps not what I would have initially expected with a management course!
In terms of learning experience I got a lot more as the course was very informal, interactive and interesting with a lot of examples and exercises. Another great thing was to meet and work with so many different people from around the University.
I think the course was really very useful, we often see researcher and managers as two different entities where as in reality we need to be both. The course provided a very good introduction into management, which has already come in useful.
Before we started, we were concerned what it was going to be like, with someone stood there in front of you, drilling things into you, talking to you all day and you nearly falling asleep. But it was really good. Very light-hearted, enjoyable, and we could have a say in how we wanted it. It was very interactive. There might be something introducing an idea, we discuss it then we do some other activity on it. So you learn it quite well. And get a chance instantly to apply it to something.
Very compact, but very informative. So much information, we were never bored. A lot of information but it was in an involved way. Very interactive.
I liked the fact that there was too much information in the whole days because otherwise it would be boring on the same theme for 3 or 4 hours and you had small slots of different things so everyday during the course it was something new and it was never boring.
They knew what they wanted to give us… it was very planned, even though it looked very spontaneous.
Firstly, the fact that I have found described in clear terms ideas on management. Then the discovery that an open management style is possible, if not indeed preferable. I liked also that there was an emphasis on letting us think for ourselves and then learning was not imposed but shared. I have also enjoyed the interaction with my fellow course mates very much.
All the days in that course everybody was participating it was not a course where you go and you sit and you listen it was a lot of participating and discussion, sometimes they close to become arguments so they managed to get the atmosphere very well so that was the teachers they managed to get us interested and talking.
Every day was lovely. We were keen to come here.
- I feel that attending this course has significantly helped me in progressing my career.
It has also made me more strategic about where I put my own research effort… it is now sort of trying to establish me as myself as opposed to being in the background of other people.
There are also other bits you can use and I’ve tried to use them as well, I mean the University can have a strategy but you can also have a personal strategy and you can apply exactly the same tools you can do analyses and stuff like that and that is something that you can apply on a very personal level, planning your career to be more clear about where you want to go and what you want to do stuff like that, I think that helps…if you apply these more formal tools it forces you to be explicit about what you want to do, what your weaknesses are, what your strengths are and you become more realistic about your options and dangers maybe in terms of your career.
Networking, networking efficiently, I think that was one of the subjects that was broached upon in the course as well. Networking and … good communication, rather than floundering, you can gain expert help. So it makes your workload a lot less arduous really.
- The two day residential was excellent. It was excellent because it kind of put it into action. Very realistic.
It was a real eye-opener.
It was very high pressured.
We became like a company, with people over those two days, it was great.
It was very good because it was a safe environment and obviously we had created relationships with people on the course. It was a very much the icing on top of the cake.
There was some challenging of skills through the game, I think.
You could observe some very interesting group dynamics and you could connect that to what you learnt before.
We were able to put what we had learnt over the past few months, into practice, in a safe (and fun) environment… Where else can you risk earning / losing millions on a business venture without repercussions…
I think it can actually improve the relationship between you and your boss because you know that he has to achieve some things and you can help him in doing that and he will realise that and it will improve the relationship.
I think with this course as well we are more aware of what is going on at different levels of the group, either for the bosses’ side or the research associates, assistants – you see the dynamics more easily now, you are more aware… You see different agendas going on and people’s perspectives more than before, when I am sitting in a meeting I am thinking about what other people want more than before, before I would think just what I had to do.
Since the course … I talk to the students that we have [differently] because I learned in the course that they have different personalities so they have to be addressed differently and I have taken the time to see how they are more comfortable and I have tried that… giving them more freedom or being more on top of them, writing down instructions on a piece of paper or just telling them as I walk by in the corridor – what is fine for one is not for the other one. I have been observing how they react to the different styles.
If you try to optimise how you work that affects already, how many people are in your group? (7 or 8 now so it is a small collection) what I wanted to say is it’s something that can be felt by a group of people and they can change as well and that will affect others so it’s not only what is local.
Speaking of change I think if you do your daily scientific routine you sometimes feel stuck in your environment and definitely that course made me realise that there are many more ways you can change your environment and influence things in group meetings and if you try to change things it turns out in some cases that your supervisor is very grateful because somebody takes care of the group meetings for example so you can influence and change your environment on a local level and maybe that can be transferred…Your environment is not carved in stone, you can change it, there are many things you can change.
I was expecting an introduction on the practicalities of management, possibly an overview of the financial aspect, which I did get. In reality the course has exceeded my expectations, because it has moved me to think that managing myself and the team is as important as managing the task and possibly even more decisive. I wish I had [previously] done that more effectively.
It really made me more aware, like it made me realise that when you are doing sort of these strategic changes there are tools that you can apply. What I thought was even better than that was it actually made me realise that these things are actually done in my School and there is all this material that is available that actually shows me how the faculty has been planned and how the School is. So the course led me to find out what actually my own work environment does, I don’t do them but other people do and they exist and you could match them up to bits that we were being taught so it gave me information that I didn’t know existed or I couldn’t see…It could be useful to me in the future because now I know what the Faculty and School are going to expect of me to contribute to part of.
For me it was opening my eyes to a new area of business and vocabulary and terminology that they use. I didn’t used to know what they meant when they used all those words and now I do understand them and I do see the point of them so for me it was useful in that sense that I understand that when they are higher in the University they talk about research goals and all these things so it was like ‘ahh, that is what they are talking about!’
We make it very clear that full attendance and engagement are expected. Participants (to date) have all been very commited to the programme, and vocal in their appreciation.
Some keen applicants found their PIs were reluctant for them to take so much time away from their research work. We designed a page on the website giving information directed at PIs, to clarify the involvement and expected outcomes. During the information/induction sessions, potential applicants have questions relating to gaining PI buy-in, and previous participants have explained their experiences and perspectives.
Some participants have had long extensions for their assignments, due to workload and competing priorities. In 2010 we introduced a £300 charge for individuals who do not complete their assignments within one year (line managers must accept responsibility for paying).
The programme was initially funded from institutional Roberts funds. It was designed and directed jointly by a (faculty-based) Roberts-funded trainer and the Head of the central university Staff Training and Development Unit (STDU). It has now been incorporated as part of ongoing STDU activities, financed from the STDU budget, with support from faculty Roberts-funded staff. It thus forms one part of a range of management development schemes aimed at different categories of university staff.