Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU) recognised that inappropriate behaviour, rooted in a lack of awareness and established culture, adversely affected relationships between and within teams. This in turn impacted on morale, performance and productivity, culminating in a negative influence on the service provided to customers.
Designing the programme
To stimulate a culture change that embraced equality and diversity within the Facilities Management Department, leading to improving performance and efficiency.
CCCU recognised the need to promote the University’s Dignity at Work Policy, Staff Code of Conduct and Wellbeing agenda, as well as support managers and team leaders in managing staff performance and behaviour. CCCU wanted to develop a programme that would engage Estates and Facilities staff in an interactive way, with the focus on problem-solving. A formal learning environment for many of their staff would be intimidating and unproductive, so they wanted to create a learning space where everyone could engage and feel comfortable.
CCCU appointed The Garnett Foundation to help achieve the aim. Firstly we carried out extensive research via observations, focus groups, one-to-ones and attendance at department meetings. Secondly, we designed and delivered a highly interactive training programme, involving actors presenting real situations from across the Department. CCCU recognised this powerful methodology was more likely to have a lasting and memorable impact, compared to a “chalk-and-talk” approach. Thirdly, we developed a sustainability plan, to ensure the learning was embedding and the equality and diversity agenda became part of the Department’s fabric when moving forward.
Different training sessions were designed for one for staff, and one for managers. Each session embraced:
- Recognising and valuing difference in our staff and students
- Managing challenging situations
- Working effectively within and between teams
- Embracing shared values
- Forming an action plan for culture change
The compulsory training sessions were programmed to accommodate all shift patterns. With each session being introduced by the Director, participants immediately understood the importance of the event. There was a consistently high level of engagement throughout, from staff and managers.
Key to the effectiveness of this campaign was how CCCU planned to sustain the learning and develop further. This took the form of;
- A Steering Group which is fundamental in the development of the Estates and Facilities strategy, Periodic Management Review and the development of the University’s Master Plan.
- Action Notes completed during the training sessions and discussed at 1-1 and team meetings with key issues fed back to the Steering Group to explore changes to infrastructure and procedures.
- Improved communication A new staff group was formed to provide the interface between staff and senior management.
- Shadowing Programme Staff and managers continue to shadow different teams, to promote a joined up approach.
- Ongoing staff development opportunities are further helping permanently embed the concepts and provide the necessary support and leadership skills.
For the Facilities Management Department at CCCU, the methodology created a powerful and unique selling point, which enabled buy-in from a diverse cohort, including from staff initially resistant to the training. It also provided staff with a greater sense of confidence and value within the overall hierarchy of the university.
Academic institutions have a duty to ensure staff are aware of the Equality Act and different forms of discrimination. This programme takes a refreshing approach to this topic by reflecting reality. It provides an authentic link for participants who can identify with the situations and characters. This adds to the credibility of the programme. Over the next 3 years, CCCU will roll out tailored programmes for each department/faculty across the university.