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Relevance, challenge and motivation: The ingredients of a novel managerial development program

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Abstract:

The Division of Information and Academic Services (DIAS) is a large service division (over 400 staff) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). In 2002 it supported a novel one-month rotation of roles by the three department directors. The rotation was conceived as an important professional development opportunity for each of the directors and by example, to other divisional staff. It was also designed to fast track a more collaborative culture across the Division and identify opportunities for improved services. The three-way nature of the exchange created a particular tension and a unique learning opportunity. Each director simultaneously played the role of novice manager, critical friend and reflective observer. The learning opportunity was relevant because it was contained within the one institutional culture. It was challenging because it demanded a shift in professional perspective, and motivating because it fostered a collegial working environment where change was welcomed, supported and reinforced. Overall, the directors and the staff viewed the rotation positively. Each director gained a better understanding of the operations the other departments either through direct engagement in a “host” department or by inclusion in three-way director debriefing sessions. The initiative was evaluated using a third party process to gather feedback from the staff involved. Some important opportunities for collaboration have been identified and implemented. All three directors have emerged from the experience feeling better able to seek and offer advice about management and organizational issues. There is greater empathy for the challenges inherent in each of the departments and a greater willingness and confidence to accept a divisional responsibility for complex cross-departmental projects. Increasingly, there is a collective and shared understanding of how to get things done across the organization. Most importantly, it suggests a novel model of academic development that has the potential for broader application. La Division of information and Academic Services (DIAS) constitue un vaste service (plus de 400 employés) de la Queensland University of Technology (QUT). En 2002, elle a mis en place une nouvelle rotation mensuelle en qui a trait au rôle des trois directeurs de départmant La rotation était conçue comme une opportante de développment professionnel pour chacun des directeurs et, à titre d'exemple, pour les autres membres du personnel de la division. Elle visait aussi à accélérer la mise en place d'une culture davantage collaborative dans l'ensemble de la division, en plus d'identifier des opportunités pour ameéliorer les services. La nature tridimensionnelle du changement a ceéé une opportunité d'apprentissage unique et fut paticulièrement pertinente parce qu'elle avait lieu à l'intérieur d'une culture institutionalle. Chaque directeur jouait simultanément le rôle d'apprenti-gestionnaire, d'ami critique et d'observateur réflexif. L'initiative a été évaluée par l'entremise d'un processus impliquant des tierces parties de façon à recueillir des informations auprès du personnel impliqué. Les trois directeurs sont ressortis de l'expérience avec une plus grande empathie en ce qui a trait aux défis inhérents à chacun des départments, ainsi qu'une plus grande volonté et confiance relativement à leur attribution de responsabilités divisionnelles pour des projets inter-départementaux complexes. De plus en plus, il existe une compréhension collective et partagée des dimensions relatives à l'accomplissement de certaines tâches ausein de l'organisation. De façon importante, ceci suggère un nouveau modèle de développement académique, lequel a un potentiel correspondant à des applications plus vastes.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13601440500099993

Affiliations: 1: RMIT University, Australia 2: Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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