Bath AUA

Bath AUA providing local support to help you enhance your career, boost your job prospects and create valuable networking opportunities

Tagged: Training

Getting out there

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Author: Rosie Hart, Programmes Officer - Faculty of Engineering and Design

So, next week I’m off to Manchester for my third AUA annual conference. Whilst this makes me feel slightly apprehensive, I have learned that forcing myself out of my comfort zone is good for me as a functioning human.

I attended my first regional conference at Cardiff in February which was one fairly intensive day, but with each session both interesting and relevant (a somewhat rare treat), it was a really positive experience.

I originally intended this blog post to be a review of my day at the regional conference but as it’s taken a while to get around to writing this (whoops!) I feel it is not quite as pertinent anymore and probably not as valid to others anyhow. Instead I want to focus on what I gain from going to talks, presentations or conferences in general.

Sharing and feeling part of something bigger

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This is a big one for me. It’s good to share your knowledge; good for you and good for others. By sharing you learn and you contribute.
It can be reassuring to find out that others beyond your direct circle are working on the same issues and trying to overcome similar frustrations, sometimes even with success! We don’t all need to work independently trying to crack the same issues, we can share out knowledge and learn from others experience.

It also helps you to have time away from your role to think about what it is you want to achieve. In some instances you may even meet positive role models who inspire. I like to feel part of a team. I also like to feel part of a Faculty, a University, an education system/ network. To me this is comforting and positive.

Surprise learning

I consider myself to be healthily sceptical; whilst slightly dubious about how valuable a talk or event is going to be I anticipate that I will take away at least one piece of useful information. I have been to talks or workshops where I had high expectations and left feeling underwhelmed. I have also been surprised by talks which I have thought would be really dry or a reiteration of something I already know but have turned out to be witty or enlightening. Presentations are given by humans, these humans may be natural or highly trained speakers or they may be presenting for the first time, they are a mixed bag. What is clear to me is that if you don’t attend anything, you miss the opportunity to find out something new.

Making contacts

When I see ‘Networking session’ on an agenda, a shudder goes down my spine and I start to think about how I might be able to get out of that bit. For an awkward British person networking is an entirely unnatural process. However I do find that the more I go, the less alien it feels.

Ant network_02It does help to meet people outside your team to gain fresh perspective and support. You may find at some point, when you are struggling to think of a way to solve a problem, that you call on your contacts to bounce ideas off one another.

Don’t feel you have to go it alone, if it makes you feel better to walk in with someone you know, then why not? It can be a lot less intimidating.

Gaining confidence naturally

When you're feeling shy it’s hard to put yourself out there and to do something outside of your comfort zone. But gaining knowledge and achieving new things makes you feel stronger in your decisions and spurs you on to give things a go. With each success you become more confident. It takes time- more for some than others and you have to do it in your own style but keep at it, it’s good for you.

 

Seeing the big picture: attending an AUA conference

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Author: Alison Ryan, Faculty Coordinator - Faculty of Engineering and Design

On Friday 3 February I attended the AUA South Wales and South West Conference 2017 in Cardiff. Having never attended an AUA conference before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was really looking forward to finding out.

Chance to network

After an early start and a train journey followed by a bracing walk from Cardiff Central Station, we arrived at the Park Plaza hotel in good time for a much needed coffee and a pastry, or two! There was a good turn out from Bath as well as attendees from the Universities of Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth and Gloucestershire to name a few. This was a great opportunity to meet people from other universities.

The big picture

Our very own Angela Pater, also the AUA Regional Network Coordinator, opened the conference with a warm welcome and introduced the first speakers, Victoria Holbrook from Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Lisa Newberry from Universities Wales.

Victoria and Lisa discussed the future HE landscape, providing external perspectives of upcoming major changes and opportunities. Victoria explained that HEFCE would be replaced by the Office for Students (OfS) in 2018 and the OfS would also have a new focus as the single market regulator for HE. The opening talks were really informative and I particularly enjoyed learning more about the big picture of HE.

Doing the privilege walk

There were a range of workshops to choose from and for the morning session, I picked ‘Ensuring Inclusive Education’ run by Fflur Elin, the NUS Wales President. This thought-provoking workshop gave us a different perspective of how social situations and conventions could affect students in a variety of ways.

Fflur was a brilliant facilitator and had us up on our feet participating in the ‘privilege walk’, which was an activity designed to visually show how students could either benefit from, or be held back by, certain characteristics or situations (such as their gender or needing to work part time). We were each given a list of different characteristics and stood next to each other in a long line. We then took steps forwards or backwards, depending on the persona we had been given.

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Fflur Elin, NUS Wales President.

Inspirational speakers

There were many inspiring speakers and although I can’t talk about them all here, I will briefly mention one. In the afternoon, Steve Egan did Bath proud and delivered a very engaging talk about his journey to his current role at Bath, Vice-President (Implementation). Steve’s talk was very well received and included many amusing but also inspiring anecdotes about his career so far.

So when’s the next one?

I really enjoyed the day; it was an interesting and valuable experience and I would definitely like to attend future conferences. It was a great opportunity to gain a broader understanding of HE, listen to a variety of talks and to meet other people working in the sector. If you get the chance to attend an AUA conference or event, sign up now!

 

See one, do one, teach one… apparently the same rule applies to training!

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Author: Jenny Medland, Student Experience Officer & Suzanne Jacobs, Assistant Registrar - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

See one, do one, teach one… apparently the same rule applies to training! Having attended useful externally delivered training sessions on how to have productive Difficult Conversations and Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness in the Workplace our line manager suggested that we develop a joint presentation for other Faculty colleagues on what we had learned. There was such a natural overlap between the topics we agreed that this would be a good idea. This meant, amidst all the excitement of the run up to Christmas, we ended up sitting in front of a computer screen trying to work out the best way to consolidate two days of wide-ranging training into an hour session.

In our planning meeting, we started by sharing our key takeaways from our respective sessions. This was done in order to identify a shared message: the importance of being empathetic and ‘mindful’ both in discussion with others and in reflecting on our own behaviour. We didn’t want to overload attendees with information and ideas, so identifying this message helped keep the session focused and succinct. We were also keen to emphasise why the session and concepts discussed would be useful to attendees – they help in managing stress and improving working relationships and communication – to show the value of the techniques discussed. Finally, we wanted to make sure the training had lots of practical exercises to avoid it feeling like a dry lecture to our peers and to instead give an opportunity for discussion and the sharing of ideas and advice.

We began our talk by defining Emotional Intelligence (EQ) (an individual’s abilities of recognising, understanding and choosing how they think, feel and act) and Mindfulness (paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally), discussing how they are important in helping manage stress and improving relationships. We gave attendees a quiz to help them assess their own EQ to help contextualise these potentially abstract concepts, and provided a list of links and resources for those interested in finding out more.

For the second half of the talk, we used Mindfulness and EQ as tools to be applied in managing difficult conversations more productively, offering a practical application of what can be seen as an abstract concept. Using three key ‘types’ of Difficult Conversations, we spoke about how being self-reflective (identifying and developing your own stressors, strengths and weaknesses) and empathetic (sensitive and open to the other’s perspective) can help. We then ended by splitting the room into groups of three who roleplayed a scenario of a difficult conversation, where participants had to apply these skills.

We both found running this session really helpful in cementing our own understanding and processing of the training and ideas discussed. It was also interesting to be able to share ideas and perspectives with colleagues, both in the training session itself and in developing the session together beforehand. While there was a limit to the amount of detail or practice possible in such a short session, the feedback from the participants was really positive. A number of people indicated that they would endeavour to be more mindful and EQ aware in their subsequent conversations and working relationships. Many also indicated that they would be seeking further details after the meeting, following up on some of the additional sources of information provided.

 

Reflections on the AUA PG Certificate – year 1

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Author: Sally Lewis, Placements Officer, Faculty of Science

I began studying for the AUA’s PG Certificate in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership in October last year. This is a two year, distance learning course supported by three study days – mine have been in London – and is validated by Nottingham Trent University.
Although I have worked at the University for a fair few years, my previous roles were within an externally funded research unit (UKOLN) and it was only when I moved into my current role, within the Faculty of Science Placements Team, that I fully appreciated the range of professional service roles operating within HE and I was keen to increase my knowledge of the sector. My move coincided with the relaunch of the AUA Bath branch and I started going along to their events - including some informal coffee meets - where I got to know people from across the university and to hear about other development opportunities.

The PG Cert appealed because it offered me the opportunity to increase my knowledge and understanding of the HE sector and explore current issues. Fundamental to the course is the integration of knowledge into your own working practices – you gain very practical rather than theoretical and abstract knowledge. The self-directed nature of the course and the variety of options means that you can choose topics to study to suit your own interests and development needs. The first year consists of three assignments – each assessed by a 3,000 word essay. Having not had any experience of essay writing at postgraduate level before, this was the first skill that I had to develop, which I did with support provided through the programme’s online learning resources (and a visit to the drop-in writing centre on campus, highly recommended!). I chose to focus on: 1. Developments in the student voice; 2. The purpose and role of student support and guidance and 3. Current trends in the corporate governance of HEIs in the UK. Each of the assignments required me to look at the topic from my own institution’s perspective which gave me the opportunity to meet with colleagues from across the University - and I am grateful to all colleague who shared their insights and expertise with me. I was able to relate the knowledge I was acquiring in my first two assignments to my work supporting students and the third assignment gave me the opportunity to learn about an area of which I had very little previous knowledge.

I am now starting on the second year of the programme – which is quite different in structure and focusses on developing reflective working practices …more of which later!

If you are interested in finding out more about the course, please do get in touch.

 

 

Difficult Conversations

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Author: Jenny Medland, Student Experience Officer - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

It’s not often you’ll take time on a Wednesday morning to discuss whether you’re an elephant or a dolphin but that’s the position I found myself in when I attend the ‘Difficult Conversations’ training delivered by Mediation at Work.

The day-long workshop offered a mix of theory, group discussion and extremely helpful roleplaying exercises. I attended the training as I’m new to line management, but have found the content and advice really useful in all aspects of my role, including some of the trickier meetings!

We looked at the three kinds of difficult conversations you’re most likely to have in the workplace, and below I’ve summarised my key takeaways on how to manage them constructively.

1)      Giving Bad News: Own it! It can be tempting to evade responsibility, but people will respect honesty and straight forwardness. Be honest, direct, and allow the other person time to process and the opportunity to come back with questions.

2)      Addressing Conflict: Validate rather than justify. If someone is criticising or commenting on your behaviour, rather than jump to being defensive take the time to listen to what they’re saying, validate their perspective through active listening, and move the conversation on by focusing on a potential compromise or shared goal.

3)      Giving Difficult Feedback: Start off by asking for permission to offer feedback e.g. “I’d like to talk to you about your behaviour in that meeting – is this OK”? Giving permission immediately makes people more responsive to hearing feedback and makes the conversation a two-sided discussion.

The best bit of advice I was given was probably the simplest – prepare yourself! Whilst you can’t ‘script’ a difficult conversation, identifying your own ‘default conflict behaviour’ (Kilmann’s conflict mode instrument is a helpful starting point); picking an appropriate setting/time and planning a rough structure for the conversation (we discussed the DESC model as a good one to use) can help keep the situation calm and you confident.

Find out more about the courses offered by Mediation at Work through their website.

 

'Mark of Excellence' Success!

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Our Faculty/School Professional Academic Services have been awarded the AUA Mark of Excellence!  We are the second institution in the country (but the first in the South) to receive the award, which demonstrates our commitment to the education, training, development and support of our staff.  More information about the Mark of Excellence is here:

http://www.aua.ac.uk/cpd-12-About-the-AUA-Mark-of-Excellence.html

As noted in our award letter: The panel was very impressed with the work that staff had done to build upon the Framework to develop the University’s Effective Behaviours Framework approach, noting the drive and ambition to develop this further.  The assessor highlighted as an area of exceptional practice, the high levels of staff engagement through the use of the SPDR+ and the high quality developmental conversations that this has brought about.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us to get to this stage, including our committed teams; Amanda Wylie, Staff Development Manager; our HR Business Partners and of course our project sponsors, Richard Brooks (Director of HR) and Diane Aderyn (Director of Finance and Commercial Services), who said of the award:

The University of Bath ‘Effective Behaviours Framework’ is based on the on the AUA CPD framework and has been enthusiastically embraced in the Academic Professional Services. I am delighted that the impact of this work has been recognised in the award of the Mark of Excellence; really effective performance by professional services is vital to the success and development of the University and this award will provide additional impetus to our plans to relaunch the Framework across the wider University.

The Directors of Administration, Iain-Forster Smith, Ann-Marie Hartland, Amanda Harper and Amanda Spencer have been invited to an AUA ceremony in London on 1st December to collect the award, photos to follow thereafter!  Iain and Ann-Marie will also be delivering a working session at the AUA Conference earlier that day: http://www.aua.ac.uk/event_pages-211-2016-Development-Conference.html

 

Bath AUA Membership deal - why you should sign up

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mark-of-excellence

The AUA is committed to helping you succeed in your career. Our Bath Membership Scheme supports your career by recognising that you are dedicated to improving yourself and others.

Top 5 reasons to join the AUA:

....through Branch activities at Bath - learn more about this University

....getting to know colleagues at Bath from other departments

....attending national events is great way to keep in touch with professionals like you

....supporting your development, providing you with a wealth of tools and resources

....solving problems, keeping informed and networking

What you get if you join the AUA and who is it for:

AUA exists for our members. We offer support to help you enhance your career, boost your job prospects and create valuable networking opportunities. AUA membership empowers you to take control of developing your career whatever stage it is at.

Bath Membership Scheme:

The University supports the AUA and has purchased the bulk membership opportunity from the AUA, allowing you to sign up through the Branch Advocate for a discounted membership paid for by salary deduction.

Through the Bath scheme all members of staff who wish to join the AUA are entitled to the membership at the discounted costs below:

Subscription type:
Monthly Salary Deduction -  £5.07
Single annual payment - £60.80

Membership not through this scheme costs up to £10.80 per month/£143 annual payment

If you wish to join email your local Branch Advocate for further details  -  aua@bath.ac.uk

 

 

Applying for the Mark of Excellence

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AUA mark of excellence

Author:  Ann-Marie Hartland, Director of Administration - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

As we're working towards the Mark of Excellence, it has given us a great opportunity, not only to be accredited by the AUA for the support and value we place in the development of our staff but to reflect on how the framework has become embedded within our teams and the impact it has had.

Launched in March 2016 at the AUA's Annual Conference, the AUA Mark of Excellence is a new award for Higher Education Institutions which recognises that the organisation has demonstrated its commitment to working with the AUA Statement of Values and CPD Framework and has embedded them into its organisational development provision.

Only recently, one of our probationers commented on the comprehensive nature and clarity of her objectives, not only focussing on the tasks themselves but on the 'how' they should be carried out. It has taken time and commitment to get this far but for those who do fully engage, the framework is becoming increasingly helpful in identifying areas for development and training. It's also helping us as Faculty/School managers to ensure that we are tailoring our staff development programme to the needs of our teams. Building on our progress so far, we're hoping to embed the effective behaviours framework into our grading structure, so that career progression within the framework is more clear but for the moment, we will just be focussing on the assessment day and convincing our assessor that we truly are excellent!

We will update soon hopefully celebrating our success in achieving the award.