Recognition & Rewards

Having a dialogue

With the Recognition & Rewards programme, we want to provide room for everyone’s talent. Together, we are working on a new balance in recognising and rewarding academic work. We are convinced that a complex change issue such as recognising and rewarding academics differently requires a dialogical approach to change. This approach starts with creating an open climate for debate in which people can safely speak their minds and are emphatically encouraged to express their opinions. The approach to change ultimately focuses on behavioural change, cultural embedding, and new structures and systems that contribute to this.

One such dialogue session was held in Maastricht on Thursday 6 June. More than fifty people travelled to the southernmost Dutch city to discuss the results of the Recognition & Rewards Culture Barometer. Many of the participants, such as project leaders, committee chairs and communication advisers, are involved on an almost daily basis in realising the ambitions of the Recognition & Rewards programme in their own institutions. The presence of several executive officers was a positive sign, demonstrating their commitment to and support for the Recognition & Rewards programme. The focus of the meeting was on how to interpret the results and what we can learn from them.

Participants interacted with each other in a world café setting. Seven discussion tables had been set up in the room, each with its own theme. Participants themselves chose a theme they wanted to discuss. During two rounds of discussions, five to ten persons at a time sat down to exchange views on the theme at hand. Prior to the meeting, we identified six themes that emerged in the Recognition & Rewards Culture Barometer results report:

  1. Awareness of and support for Recognition & Rewards
  2. Experience of changes in recognition and rewards
  3. Development and career steps
  4. Team spirit and leadership
  5. Concerns and opportunities
  6. Early career academics

In addition, there was an open table where participants could suggest their own theme. Ultimately, the conversation at this table was about how institutions implement policies in practice.

At the tables, productive and open conversations unfolded according to the principles of appreciative inquiry. In 2020, we started the joint Recognition & Rewards programme. We are now four years on and to be honest, there is room for improvement. During the talks, we focused on what is going well, how we can learn from each other and what needs to be improved in the coming period.

After two rounds of discussion, the moderators gave feedback. Based on this, an illustrator created a visual report showing the main outcomes of the morning programme. In doing so, she provided clear and action-oriented reporting in a short amount of time. One image that stuck is that of the oil slick slowly getting bigger and bigger. This is also how the philosophy of Recognition & Rewards is spreading in the institutions. There was a call to actually implement the developed policies in practice.

Participants interacted again in the afternoon programme, this time using the visualisation. Participants themselves chose a topic they wanted to discuss in depth. They were tasked with making the morning’s findings more specific. This resulted in beautiful and sometimes very tangible ideas. For example, one of the groups came up with the idea of introducing accreditation and having academics in leadership positions take a mandatory leadership programme. Managers should be role models, especially for early career academics.

We look back on an inspiring meeting, with dialogue taking centre stage. There was also room to exchange good practices in order to learn from each other. Once again, it became clear how important it is to enter into dialogue with each other. This gives meaning to Recognition & Rewards and actually sets things in motion.

Discussing the results

If you also like to discuss the significance of the Recognition & Rewards Cultural Barometer results with fellow academics, sign up here for the national dialogue meeting in the Trippenhuis in Amsterdam on Thursday, 29 August.

Dialogue toolkit

Would you like to organise the conversation about Recognition & Rewards in your institution? This dialogue toolkit guides you through some relevant points to consider during preparation. You will also find a map of interests, examples of work formats and a guide for moderators.