University of Essex
Summary of Management Development Strategy
2003/4 – 2006/7
This document summarises the strategy for management development at the University of
Essex. (Copies of the full strategy are available from the Staff Development Office and on the
Staff Development website http://www.essex.ac.uk/staffdev/).
The Strategy should be read in conjunction with both the University’s Strategic Plan and its
Human Resources Strategy. The purposes of the paper are to set out clearly the University’s
current priorities and expectations for management development and to inform internal
discussion and planning for the future. The strategy relates to junior, middle and senior
management within the University, in both academic Departments and support Sections.
The paper begins by defining management, leadership and management development. It then
sets out the University’s strategic priorities and the consequent implications for management
development; establishes priorities; and details a number of new initiatives that will be
introduced. Evaluation of progress is outlined in the penultimate section. The paper
concludes with a summary of the roles and responsibilities of those involved in taking the
strategy forward. A summary of the objectives for the 3 year period of the strategy is given at
Management and Leadership are two distinct functions. The first is about the achievement of
today’s requirements; the second with the creation of the dynamic that realises tomorrow’s.
Management development is ‘planned and deliberate processes to develop the capability of
the management of the organisation so that it can meet its strategic requirements both in
current performance and in its performance in the future.’
Management development is not solely concerned with the mechanisms for learning how to
perform as managers (e.g. training, coaching, mentoring, action learning). It is also
concerned with appropriate structures: e.g., the ways in which teams are used; the systems for
performance management and reward; and methods of identifying and selecting people for
management. These all play a part in enabling learning to be transferred and become
effective in the organisation.
3. University Strategic Priorities and Consequent Management Development
Priorities and Initiatives
University strategic priorities currently include:
• further growth and diversification;
• more flexibility and responsiveness to markets for students, staff and research; and to
• the development of the University’s international profile; and
• further development of an environment that is conducive to academic activity of high
quality and is generally supportive of both staff and students.
• further collaboration with other educational institutions and public sector agencies
(e.g. the NHS).
Key cross-cutting themes are planning, flexibility, innovation, change management,
communication and collaboration. In order for the University to achieve its objectives,
managers at all levels will need to develop skills in these areas.
3.1 Consequent Priorities
3.1.1 Academic Managers
The contribution of academic managers, particularly Deans and Heads of Department, is
fundamental to the University’s achievement of: higher quality of student intake; better
retention rates; improved student employability; increased research income; and greater levels
of interaction with business – all key areas for the University’s Strategic Plan. The biggest
challenge for management development in the coming period is to create a culture in which
management is respected and time spent by academics on management activities is seen as
valuable. Managerial duties must be appropriately allocated and appropriate, timely, and
good quality training and development opportunities need to be provided.
3.1.2 Diversity in Management
The University recognises that historically those in managerial posts have tended to be late
career white males and wishes to attract a more diverse group into management posts. It will
actively encourage the participation of women and ethnic minority groups in management
development activities through programmes such as ‘Springboard’, as well as ensuring that
equal opportunities principles apply to the selection of candidates for management
development opportunities and for appointment to management positions.
3.1.3 Succession Planning
The pool of potential managers and leaders for the future needs to be increased. In addition to
providing appropriate training, this will require better succession planning and the
development of processes which offer opportunities to develop relevant experience.
3.1.4 Needs Analysis
Management skills need to be strengthened across the organisation and pragmatic steps have
been taken to do this. However, the University would benefit from improving its methods of
assessing and analysing its needs, identifying performance problems more clearly and
defining skills gaps. This will help ensure the relevance of programmes offered and help to
maximise the transfer and application of learning. Future methods for analysing needs will
• define them precisely;
• identify how they might best be met;
• Identify performance issues which will not be addressed by training or development and
therefore require an alternative approach
Performance and Development Review (see below) will contribute to the needs analysis by
encouraging the development of personal development plans.
The needs analysis will be based on observation, interviews, focus groups and research.
3.2 New Initiatives
The management style within the University tends towards enabling and facilitating and the
University aims to develop this further. As a result, new programmes will adopt a problem
-solving approach using case studies and real examples to complement theoretical input and
promote reflection. To ensure management development is effective at Essex, we will:
• ensure that the formal development programme recognises the informal, intuitive,
contextual nature of management practice;
• make the most of learning on-the-job by adopting methods that encourage management
• be aware of individual learning preferences and try to encourage a flexible approach,
geared towards self-managed learning and development.
The section below outlines the new initiatives that will be introduced as a consequence of the
needs analysis exercises already undertaken.
• Further Development of the Internal Programme
This programme needs strengthening in the areas of managing change, managing projects,
managing risk and managing performance as well as in the dissemination and application of
University policies. Other subjects are likely to be added to this list and the courses that
already feature in the internal programme need to be kept under review. In addition, the
appropriateness and cost of internal versus external delivery of courses needs to be monitored.
• Performance and Development Review
The University is required to embed performance management for all staff as part of its
HEFCE-funded human resources strategy. Accordingly the framework for Performance and
Development Review has been revised and will be fully introduced during 2003/4.
• Programme for New HoDs and Deans
The content and timing of the internal induction programmes for new HoDs and Deans will
be reviewed in line with the recommendations of the HoDs Review Working Party. An
external 1994 Group development programme for new HoDs will begin in December 2003.
This programme aims to develop participants’ skills in areas such as managing change and
performance management. The programme has been designed to build on standard internal
programmes by opportunities for networking across universities and for sharing good practice
from around the sector.
• Accredited Programmes
The only formal management training currently offered by the University is NVQ 3 in
Management. Opportunities for further accreditation will be explored in collaboration with
the Southend Centre to ensure that those wishing to acquire formal management
qualifications are able to do so.
• Develop an Innovation lab (iLab)-based Management Development Programme
The iLab’s design provides an environment which encourages innovative thinking and open-
minded reflection about new ideas. It is therefore ideal for work on the development of
creative thinking, problem solving, strategic planning and team building. Some Management
Development sessions will be designed to be facilitated in the iLab from 2004/05 as part of
the overall programme.
• On going Research
Through benchmarking exercises undertaken with other universities (possibly initiated by the
University’s staff survey results) and other research undertaken by the management
development team, the relevance and appropriateness of externally provided developmental
opportunities will be assessed.
• Evaluation Toolkit
Methods of evaluation need to be developed and implemented to assess progress in raising the
standard of management within the University. The tool kit will consist of two levels of
questionnaire to analyse the immediate reaction to a management development initiative
followed later by how participants have applied their learning in their job. Semi structured
interviews and focus groups will be used.
• Academic Leadership Programme
To complement and develop the new HoDs and Deans programme and support succession
planning it is planned to establish an Academic Leadership programme, which will be
relevant for new HoDs, Deans and PVCs.
• Senior Manager Coaching/Mentoring
One to one support for new senior managers will be provided to help them develop their skills
and reflect on new challenges.
• Develop the practice of Action Learning Sets within the University
Problem-based, self-directed learning can be particularly effective for managers. Action
Learning Sets to support skills development initiatives and promote reflective practice will be
• Online Learning
Opportunities for introducing online management development will be researched and
implemented as appropriate, enabling staff to learn at their own pace, promoting a culture of
4. Evaluation and Review
The impact of management development initiatives on performance and their contribution to
the University’s aims needs to be evaluated. University-wide performance indicators will be
developed and agreed in order to measure impact at this level. There is no simple correlation
between development and performance and the difficulty of measuring the specific impact of
any planned training or development initiative, together with the influence of a range of
contextual factors, including the role of informal, unplanned learning, must be recognised.
Nevertheless, the evaluation process will aim to establish the worth of all management
development initiatives including:
• what participants think and feel about a particular approach
• what participants have learned
• the effect of an event/experience on performance.
Observation, interviews and group discussion will help provide more focused feedback and
staff surveys will also be utilised as an evaluation tool for this purpose.
4.1 Benchmarking and Research
Regular benchmarking exercises will be completed in order to compare programmes and gain
insight into the reasons for success at other institutions. Discussion and the sharing of best
practice with other staff development units, particularly in the 1994 Group, will help to
develop this strategy.
5. Responsibilities & Resources
Three key groups have a responsibility for the management and implementation of the
• The Personnel Section (in identifying needs, designing appropriate initiatives and
• Heads of Department and Sections (in identifying the needs of those they manage and
raising awareness of the support available)
• VAG (in monitoring cost effectiveness in achieving University goals)
Finally, it must also be acknowledged that each member of staff is responsible for their own
development and for making best use of the learning opportunities open to them.
M:Mgt DevStrategy Summary.doc