I started receiving notifications from LinkedIn yesterday congratulating me on my two year anniversary at Flinders University, so I thought I would take a moment to write a short post reflecting on my time here, and on where to from here.
As the year draws rapidly to a close, the thoughts of many a manager turn to that most dreaded of annual tasks – the performance review. Often ignored, frequently monolithic, a good idea that has been lost in translation to some awful Word document template. Dislike them or loathe them, they are out there. Sadly, this kind of prescriptive process can often discourage what should be a worthwhile activity, that of providing some sort of formal feedback to staff on their year in review, hopefully as a supplement to the regular feedback they have been getting throughout the year (wishful thinking, I know).
But what about feedback going the other way from staff given to their managers, particularly in the case of senior level managers?
In my fifteen years of reporting to senior managers or executives, not once have I been asked for formal feedback on their performance throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some really good managers (and some bloody awful ones), but not once has any of them given me a formal opportunity to provide structured feedback. This year, to show that I’m willing to lead by example, I’ve set up a formal feedback process to give my senior leaders the chance to share their thoughts on my 2016.
Well, I think its safe to call the result of this year’s Australian census, making it a much quicker call than our Federal election last month – the results are in, and the ABS lost. Lost to the point that makes the Australian cricket team’s recent performance against Sri Lanka look not all that bad in comparison.
It was, on pretty much all fronts, a train wreck.
Me: ‘You know you can make this purchase online and you won’t have to wait in a queue here, right?’
Student: *shrugs shoulders* ‘Yeah, but I’m here now anyway, so I might as well wait’.
This was a conversation, or a variant thereof, that I had more times than I can remember during the last week of February and first week of March this year. As you may already know, I accepted a role almost one year ago at Flinders University to lead the creation of a centralised student support centre, which went live in October last year, and which met its biggest test at the start of Semester 1 last month.
It was these many conversations that, about three weeks ago (just as the smoke was clearing from the start of semester frenetics), started off a blog post in my mind that I’ve been struggling to write ever since. It was only on the counsel of two people very close to me that I realised the post (which was seeming even more long and rambling than my usual efforts) was actually three separate posts, and should be written as such.
This post marks the first in the trilogy.
As some of you may know, my role for the last six months has been setting up a new student services centre at Flinders University. This new service, called Flinders Connect, opened its doors this week to students, so I thought it would be an opportune time to write a brief reflection on the week in relation to the psychology aspect of the UCE152 MOOC.
I stumbled across our work Yammer network the other day. I had no idea that it was there – I just logged into the corporate Office 365 portal doodad and saw a link to it, and being the curious little kitten I am I clicked on it. What I found was a fledgling collection of others from around the University, with no seeming rhyme or reason to indicate from whence they had come. Probably just other rubberneckers like me, poking their nose in to see what it was all about. A few ‘Hello World’ posts, a couple of attempts at sharing links – and not much else.
Just to test the waters, I made my first post an admission that I’ve used Yammer quite a bit in years gone past, and that I should write a blog post that clarified what I saw as the conditions for success. I even got a few ‘likes’ on it, and so I figured I’d better follow through with this post.
Much has been said over the years about the rise of virtual teams, including the benefits and drawbacks of remote workers and those staunchly for and against it. Not nearly as much has been said (or that I’ve seen anyway) on the topic of blended teams, where some staff are located in the same physical place and others are located elsewhere and working virtually.
As many of you know, I’ve been leading the NetSpot Consulting team (among others) for the last few years, of which the last two have seen a significant upheaval after our acquisition by Blackboard, which has seen a heap of structural, procedural and scope changes in how we operate. This week I sat down to look at performance planning for the team for the second half of 2014 and quickly realised that the amount of change has left us (me included) needing a hit of the reset button to refocus on what exactly it is we’re looking to achieve as what we now are – a regional team representing a range of learning technologies (both open source and proprietary) as part of a much larger organisation which is going through its own huge internal changes.
Yes, you guessed it, I ended up writing a vision statement.
Its been a while since I blogged, which is predominantly due to two factors. One – its been a busy twelve months, and to be honest a fairly rocky one. Two – my focus has shifted from what I’ve traditionally blogged about as my role has shifted into heading up the Consulting team for NetSpot & Blackboard in Australia, New Zealand and beyond.