The Mark of Excellence

Congratulations to University of Bath

Three years after they first achieved the AUA Mark of Excellence, the University of Bath academic professional services have successfully been awarded the Mark for a further three years. Despite experiencing a large amount of change within the organisation, they have successfully managed to further embed their version of the AUA CPD Framework (Effective Behaviours Framework) into key points across the employee lifecycle, and have demonstrated a wide variety of development provision and lots of good practice.

Amanda Oliver, Mark of Excellence Panel Chair and Chair of the Board of Studies commented, “The Mark of Excellence panel reviewed the reassessment application for Bath academic professional services. The panel was pleased to see good progress made since the award of the Mark three years ago. Continue with the good work Bath, the good practice that you have within the academic professional services is testament to the dedication of your colleagues.”

The AUA asked Bath a few questions about the secret to their success.

Why did you decide to apply for re-assessment of the Mark?

The Mark of Excellence is a fantastic endorsement of our commitment to developing ourselves and others as HE professionals, both as individuals and as a team. We work hard with our team members to embed professional values in our ways of working and to celebrate our achievements. We know that the Mark of Excellence also sets us apart as an employer of choice in this space.

Over the past three years there has been lots of change at Bath, how did you manage to further develop your use of the Effective Behaviours Framework in spite of this?

We felt that further embedding the framework grew in importance precisely because of the changes within the organisation and the need to ensure that our staff were fully equipped to respond proactively and engage fully with that changing environment. Through the commitment of our senior managers and their belief in the value of the framework, we therefore embarked on further developing and embedding the EBF in our employee life cycle from recruitment to probation and beyond, working alongside our highly engaged AUA network for the benefit of our staff. We work collaboratively to share our staff development opportunities both within our Faculties/School and across the University more widely through the AUA network and encourage our team members to challenge themselves within a supportive environment. We take every opportunity to keep the EBF present in our everyday language.

The assessment panel was impressed by how well the Framework has been embedded in key touch points through the employee lifecycle. How did you manage to achieve this?

In order to ensure optimum impact, we felt that the framework had to become fully embedded in our everyday language, so it made sense to ensure that the EBF was visible in all of our documentation and practices – from recruitment

through to annual performance review – to ensure it is recognised and understood from the onset. It is clearly linked throughout the employee lifecycle so that it is brought to life in a very real and tangible way.

What have been the main benefits of using the Effective Behaviours Framework for your professional services colleagues and for the areas which have adopted it? What impact has it had?

The EBF has helped to set behavioural standards and provided clarity on career progression requirements. It has also facilitated an increased level of self-reflection, with individuals better able to articulate the areas that they need to develop, as well as those at which they excel. It has therefore helped to celebrate success but also identify potential areas to work on in order to facilitate progression. An example of success that we often refer to is a ‘Step up to Management’ course where participants developed their own tailored plan for development, which was based on the EBF. Out of 16 participants, 6 secured a promotion and 1 a secondment within the following year.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced over the past three years and how have you maintained focus/prioritised your work on the Effective Behaviours Framework?

The biggest challenge has been maintaining momentum whilst managing the other aspects of our faculty-based roles. To overcome this we set targets and objectives for ourselves to keep things on track. Our belief in the impact the framework was also integral in ensuring that this continued to be a priority for us.

Have you faced any resistance to using the Effective Behaviours Framework?

The EBF has visibility across our institution and is broadly utilised in job descriptions, probation and performance review. Within the Faculties and School we have taken this to the next level by embedding it even further in our day-to-day language. Although we are willing to share this with our colleagues in other areas it has been difficult to find the right platform for doing this, so this is the challenge for us over the next three years.

What advice would you give to other institutions who are thinking about using the AUA CPD Framework or applying for the AUA Mark of Excellence?

We would suggest using the AUA framework throughout the employee lifecycle so that it is visible and understood by all staff from recruitment, through to probation and beyond. It provides very clear expectations and opportunities for self-reflection, whilst providing the foundations for celebrating excellence.

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