Happy New Deja-vu

How’s this for management speak:

Domains are intended to personalise careers, by creating a flexible matrix of possibilities that aid both staff and their managers navigate through some of the traditional career tensions encountered in academic life to support and value the breadth of work that a modern academic does.

One gets the sense that the SMT is desperate. All the upheavals instigated by the thoroughly discredited Weinberg have done nothing to halt the decline of Kingston University’s fortunes, indeed the reverse. Spiersy’s missive contains all the impenetrable waffle you’d expect from someone bereft of any clear thinking; the management virus has completely overwhelmed any academic powers of reasoning that may have existed. Anne ‘pint of’ Boddington has a hand in this, a manager already with a reputation for dumping on staff. What is a ‘flexible matrix’ for staff? Academics teach or research or both. Ideally academics should be able to do some of each (disregarding those for whom research has been about jumping on someone else’s coat tails and avoiding teaching). How can this be twisted into something else? The true motivation lies in the last paragraph which refers to a ‘one-to-one discussion with your line manager…’ Looks like yet another way to weed out more staff. Kingston’s shrinkage continues.

Talking of old bankrupt ideas, another revival of a failed policy is the TOM (targeted operating model — remember?). This was an attempt to reorganise the administration — get fewer people to do more work. Admin staff naturally didn’t like the sound of this and many cleared out pronto. Result: worse support services and falling morale. Now called the ‘professional services review,’ the intention is the same. It looks like tech support, already inadequate, is set to be pared away even further. The idea apparently is to have a single support hub for the entire University. Yet more redundancies in the offing.

What of HR, lately abandoned by its head Simon Stoned (who never did know what ‘good looks like’)? His performance monitoring, Stoning staff to death, seems to have been dropped. One would like to think the SMT has realised you can only piss your staff off so much, but it’s more likely that the impetus left with the man. He has yet to be replaced. The person offered the job in the last recruitment effort turned it down. Could it be the applicant realised what a bad place HR has become? For some time the department has been haemorrhaging staff and now complaints about slowness and inaccuracies are mounting.

The Academic Management Framework (don’t you grow weary of all these management titles?) has rare merit. The idea is to rotate managers every four years. This practice has been common in some universities for many years. Its big advantage is those who turn out to be useless, like some politicians, have their capacity to do damage limited. The drawback is that good managers can’t stay in place, but there are too few of those at Kingston to worry on that score. But the application of the AMF is inconsistent; it’s happening in some departments, and not in others.

Without too much irony let this blog wish readers a Happy New Year. If you have any thoughts, or know what has become of the remaining PLs and readers (who will now be demoted), or teacher performance monitoring, please comment below. And if anyone has their own interpretation of the Spiered sentence above, do share them. For the best entry there will be a first prize of an enhanced flexible career domain profile.

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2 Responses to Happy New Deja-vu

  1. GUart says:

    Glad to see that the haemorrhaging of staff has been noted. What happened in the KSA Student Office lately seems to be typical. I’m told it went something like this:

    The roly mophead manager
    Observed her team and said
    “Can’t stand these happy workmates,
    It cabbages me ‘ead –
    They all go the extra mile
    When they should be shortcutting instead”

    Her aim was clear for all to see
    But she didn’t give a feck
    She bulldozed on to turn the place
    Into a second SEC
    Filled with shiny SITsbots
    All science-y and tech

    So that’s the way it is, I guess,
    And wish the team good luck.
    Not less is more, but less is less –
    And we just won’t think about the NSS

  2. Muckraker says:

    KU’s obsession with management-speak and big managerial heroes can also take other sick-making forms, including naive decisions about awarding Honorary Doctorates to controversial private sector bankers. Last July, members of staff had to desperately suppress their laughter on stage at the Rose when Spier awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters to Vernon Hill, the founder and chair of Metro Bank (who is also chair of Petplan U.S.). A local branch of Metro opened in Kingston in 2013. But the Bank is not exactly a role model for KU graduates. The latest evidence of this is a national report by Which? on the protection of customer accounts from hackers and the poor cyber security of banks. The consumer group has found that the worst performing bank out of the big 12 in the UK is (big drum roll) Vernon Hill’s Metro Bank.

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