31 December 2010
I know John Stone who wrote the article below in FE News. I have sat with him a few times in meetings and presentations. He even attended one that the College gave on the subject of staff development. I thought I would quote heavily from his article that I have referenced at the end because what he says chimes so clearly with the new approach to individual accountability of staff for improvement and a move away from the herd movement that has been around for so long. He writes the piece in the main to drum up business for Learning & Skills Network business of which he is the Chief Executive. I was seconded to the LSC for 3 months a few years back.
He cites new insight into what motivates people at work and it is is much around the new professionalism model. His argument reminds me of the historical movement from mass education (large classes in rank and file with rote learning at the same pace on a common linear progression) to more personal education; always desirable but not possible until of course new technologies have made the idiosyncratic approach possible. The point is that personalisation has always been a good idea but only recently has the means to support it been available. We now have the technologies to do the same with staff as group based development gives way to individual development, literally person by person using 'technology for the one'.
The first part of John Stone’s article deals with the challenge and meaning of ‘outstanding‘ and is therefore of interest to us. He writes this as if it is a personal message to College leaders
"Until very recently, FE leaders had focused on 'navigating their ships' to the nearest beacon of an Ofsted rating of 'outstanding'. But what does 'outstanding' mean under the new Government? For instance, does grade 1 actually deliver security in the light of recent changes or is what you deliver more important than how well? Is 'outstanding' still a goal for leaders, managers and staff to aim for? Reassuringly the answer is yes, but what we mean by 'outstanding' has changed: it is no longer just what is required by Ofsted. How your students, staff, employers and the local community rank you is now just as important, particularly as learners begin having to contribute more of their own money to fund their FE studies. To survive and thrive, colleges need to be truly outstanding in the eyes of all of these stakeholders – and that means motivating these groups well enough that they invest their future (and money) in you and are willing to go that extra mile when required. However, in an age of 'bigger society', all of your stakeholders will be looking for a clear return on their investment.
Why invest in leadership now?
For colleges to be truly outstanding in this new, wider sense of the word, they fundamentally need three things:
1. the leadership ability to spot the best way forward and forcefully turn the ship when needed;
2. motivated staff with the autonomy and skills to make these turns as quickly and effectively as possible; and
3. the ability to hear and act on what learners want and to make quick and sometimes tough calls when needed".
In his second point he describes 'motivation in action': the ability of staff to be agile enough to adapt to change quickly.
He goes on to develop this as follows:
"Colleges do this by asking tough questions:
1. how do you motivate staff when you can not even guarantee them a future beyond the next restructure?
2. how do you tap into and fully realise the commercial potential of staff knowledge of what employers and learners really think, want and need in a way that both drives the college forward and also rewards and motivates this sharing?
3. how do you ask staff at every level to go that extra mile and keep the emotional commitment, so that when changes are required staff make them outstandingly well"?
In asking these questions he places motivation as critical to this but it also requires the mental conditioning that comes from professional development as opposed to staff development. This is another straw in the wind of the emergence of the two types of development where the one (Professional development) conditions and prepares for the other (Staff development)
He goes on to discuss some of these issues but in answering the question about the motivation of staff, he reduces it down to three new approaches. I have asked Sarah Marsh to add the book to the Library catalogue that he refers to.
"A new approach to motivation
In his recent bestseller on motivation (Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us, 2010), Daniel Pink brings together 10 years of evidence and research on what really motivates, engages and empowers staff to become the key drivers to organisational success.
Traditional carrot-and-stick motivators no longer work and, more often, do harm. Instead a new approach to motivation is required that incorporates three key drivers:
1. mastery – the urge to professionally develop and get better at something that matters
2. autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives, and to be trusted and empowered to do so
3, purpose – the intrinsic motivation to add value, to do what we do in a way that makes a real difference, whether that is to learners, to other staff, or to the wider community
As human beings we are all susceptible to making emotional decisions and then rationalising them. Think of the last interview you did, purchase you made, manager you decided to work hard for. Pause for a moment and think of someone who motivated the best out of you, who got you to emotionally decide to go that extra mile. What was it that motivated you to do that?
Almost certainly, words that spring to mind will include trust, respect, clarity of goals and the autonomy to reach them. Organisations that achieve these values enjoy clear delegation of responsibility and accountability – rather than the dumping of tasks – and tend to go on to sustain, develop and empower their workforce through outcome-focused one-to-one coaching".
Stone argues for staff to be given space and time to think and an increased degree of autonomy to customise that contribution based on professional mastery and a shared sense (one would hope) in the value of good education. The critical given for college staff is a belief in the power of education.
He goes on to link ‘staff freedom’ or autonomy to being an essential part of the recipe for outstanding. He argues that one follows the other and it seems intuitive that to be outstanding means a departure from simply eradicating error or having a herd approach to improvement.
He is able to argue this point (and this is where my particular interest emerges) because of the technologies that now exist to make this highly granular approach possible through the use of the reflective portfolio.
Seeing how LSIS are using portfolio approaches to match up with the IfL approach to reflective thinking and writing, there is consensus emerging on this new approach. LSIS, IfL and the LSN by inference all now support the reflective and portfolio-based approach to learning.
As with all articles in this blog, it is intended to provide food for thought to reflect against for CPD.
A happy new year to all. Congratulations to Sue George and Jo Bartlett on their recent award of QTLS.
John Stone is chief executive of LSN, the not-for-profit organisation focused on making learning work for further and higher education, local authorities and schools, public services, work-based learning and international organisations
Source: FE News 23rd. December 2010, accessed at http://www.fenews.co.uk/featured-article/a-new-map-for-reaching-outstanding
Pink D.H. (2011) Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates is to work: Canongate Books London accessed 20.12.10 at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Drive-Surprising-Truth-About-Motivates/dp/184767769X/ref=dp_ob_title_bk