Looking differently at leadership, organisation-wide, is just one of priorities of the Maastricht University Recognition & Rewards programme. “It is important that we identify, recognise, develop and retain everyone’s talent”, emphasises Ann Vanderhaeghe, programme manager of the university’s Leadership Academy. “It begins with the way supervisors talk to staff members about their development. Which is why we have developed a training course covering precisely that theme.”
Maastricht University (UM) set up the Leadership Academy to enhance leadership skills in accordance with the principles of Recognition & Rewards. “UM already offered a range of leadership courses, we just didn’t know whether they were what supervisors at all levels were looking for”, Vanderhaeghe explains. “That’s why we consulted stakeholders and the target group at length. This resulted in various formal training courses, supplemented with forms of informal learning (such as coaching and peer review) and the first foundations for a learning community.”
Among other things, focus groups revealed that supervisors needed a detailed explanation of the principles of Recognition & Rewards. “That has prompted us to develop a completely new programme, in co-creation with the target group”, says Vanderhaeghe. “Their feedback enables us to make additions and improvements to the programme on an ongoing basis.”
Designing a development-oriented career policy
The input from the focus groups has produced, among other things, the ‘Recognition & Rewards: Room for everyone’s talent’ training course. The two-day course (plus one return session) is intended to familiarise supervisors with the guiding principles to be applied for the talent development of their staff. Participants also learn how to conduct development interviews, both one-to-one and with the whole team.
“Supervisors often have to search high and low to find information on how to use the Recognition & Rewards programme to implement the career policy”, says Vanderhaeghe. “There is no playbook, step-by-step plan or check list. Nor do we want there to be any; supervisors should be able to put it into effect themselves. However, with this programme, we are giving supervisors the opportunity to reflect and learn from each other.”
Cross-pollination of academic and support staff
Academic and support staff encounter each other at all Leadership Academy courses. “We deliberately use the term ‘university staff’ and make no distinction between them”, Vanderhaeghe points out. “Encounters between academic staff supervisors and support team supervisors make for interesting cross-pollination. They find learning from each other’s experiences enriching.”
UM Career Compass
Learning how to use the UM Career Compass is an important component of the training course. “A format for development interviews has been developed for each of our five profiles. We call it the UM Career Compass”, Vanderhaeghe explains. “This compass replaces the existing tool kit for appraisal interviews. It helps during interviews regarding staff members’ development and helps in finding a good balance between the talents and ambitions of staff members and the organisation’s strategy and requirements.”
Almost all training courses for 2023 were fully booked. This means that, by the end of this year, the Academy will have trained around 240 supervisors in total. “We will continue to improve the range we offer by collecting feedback and monitoring the results”, says Vanderhaeghe as she looks to the future. “A change in culture will require more than just training courses, but we are making good progress. So far, we have received positive reactions from participants.”
If you would like to know more about this project, you can contact the Leadership Academy team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they will be happy to tell you more.