SupportiveFaculty of Education
In recent years, we have continued to form new partnerships between UBC Information Technology (UBC IT) and other faculties and departments to deliver IT services directly to staff and faculty. These partnerships are intended to help ensure the technology strategy is aligned to the overall faculty or unit strategy. For some partnerships, such as with the Faculty of Education, IT staff changed their organizational reporting lines and transitioned to new or similar roles within UBC IT. These changes can be difficult, and therefore to support staff through the change, and to help them be successful in their new roles, UBC IT has several mechanisms in place.
An Open Dialogue
With major structural changes in an organization, staff anxiety levels can be high and concerns for the future are top of mind. To mitigate these concerns and to help staff adjust to the unknown during the transition period, a client services manager from UBC IT is assigned to provide guidance to IT staff and to assist with the partnership. For the Faculty of Education, Client Services Manager, Baljit (Balli) Chahal focused on three major principles when providing guidance to the IT team: stability, trust, and opportunity.
"The IT staff needed as much stability as possible during a period of great uncertainty, at the same time they needed some assurance that there was the possibility of a role for them within UBC IT after the transition was complete," said Chahal.
To maintain operational service standards during the transition period, the client services manager works to ensure existing service levels are maintained by working closely with staff on a day-to-day basis, managing daily operations and introducing UBC IT best practices. For the Faculty of Education, Chahal also held weekly one-on-one meetings with each IT staff to listen to their concerns about the changes taking place and to offer direction for their work.
Gaining staff's trust through the transition is critical in order to foster a strong working relationship. Client Service Managers provide as much transparency into the process as possible by delivering regular updates about the changes in their unit and ensuring commitments are kept. Staff members are also encouraged to voice their opinions so they are involved with the change and contributing to the process.
"It was really important that I be approachable, and so I kept my office door open for staff as much as possible. Their needs were a priority to UBC IT. I also promised that I would follow through with answers to their questions," said Chahal.
Michael Shepard, an Application Systems Administrator at UBC IT, was one of the Faculty of Education staff that was affected by the transition, "Balli was very clear on defining the parameters within which he was operating, and the parameters that applied to us, both during and after the integration. This honesty during the process was extremely helpful. I felt that UBC IT was trying as much as it could within its limitations to provide an IT solution for the faculty and a place for staff."
Transitioning to a larger organization can sometimes be overwhelming and staff may not always be aware of the benefits and professional development opportunities available to them. For the Faculty of Education, Chahal arranged a number of informal meetings for staff to meet with the service owners whose teams were providing services to the Faculty of Education (e.g. Desktop Services and Systems). This created opportunities for staff to learn and ask questions about the functions of the different teams and services offered, and the projects and roles within UBC IT. For each transition process, UBC IT takes into consideration the current role, interests, and career aspirations of each staff member when evaluating the opportunities that are available in the department for new employees. Chahal worked closely with the various service owners to ensure that each staff member was matched with roles that were suited for them. He provided valuable insights to UBC IT service owners due to his frequent interaction with the team and his knowledge of each individual staff member's strengths, weaknesses, goals, and career aspirations.
Preparing for Success at UBC IT
Once staff arrangements are complete and each staff member is assigned to a role, the respective manager within UBC IT prepares staff for their new roles by equipping them with the tools and knowledge necessary to be successful in their jobs. Employees are provided with training if required, and may attend information sessions within the teams that aim to develop their skills and knowledge of UBC and UBC IT processes, culture, and expectations. In addition, managers within UBC IT are provided with training on coaching staff and matching staff career interests with opportunities that will help achieve their goals and aspirations.
"As a manager, I understand the apprehensions that new staff experience as they transition to UBC IT. One simple way to address this is by having informal conversations with them to know their strengths, interests, as well as career goals. I try my best to get them involved in projects that they are interested in and that fit their competencies. I also encourage them to register for workshops or conferences that can enhance their skills or that can contribute to their career goals," says Bryan Swan, Senior Manager, Desktop Services.
All IT positions within UBC IT are based on UBC's IT Career Framework. This framework shows the many IT positions that exist at UBC, the skills and competencies required for each position, and helps staff envision and plan their career path. Other professional development initiatives that UBC IT has in place are 360 degree reviews, as well as performance reviews, training activities, and career planning, all supported by a comprehensive performance management tool that maintains an employees' personal career history, and supports goal setting and career management activity.
"For me, the integration of the Faculty of Education's computing support staff into UBC IT was a positive experience. I'm in a new position that is interesting, challenging and has more scope for growth. I still work with good people, but there are more of them," says Shepard.
Enhancing our support for the integration of new staff to UBC IT is a continuing process. All partnerships are unique and each new staff member brings a wealth of personal and professional experience that deepens the breadth of UBC IT's combined skillsets. Opportunities to improve the transition process to ensure that new staff members have the resources and support that they need for success at UBC IT are reviewed regularly, and UBC IT has consistently sought feedback from staff who have gone through the process to find out how the department can improve.
"Not everything is perfect. There was the expected stress and concerns regarding change and uncertainty. UBC IT is a large organization and can be less flexible in some areas. But people do say I smile more...," added Shepard.
Other ways that UBC IT is being supportive
|Activity/Project||Goal||Results and Accomplishments to Date|
|Learning Space Upgrades||Enhance teaching and learning environment with audio visual (AV) upgrades that encourage interactive learning and accommodate a variety of teaching styles||
|Flexible Learning and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)||Enhance educational outcomes for UBC students||
|Teaching Assignment Section Management (TASM) and Scheduling System Replacement Projects||Enable the process of assigning Teaching Assistants (TAs) and Instructors to a section and identify their duties, such as assisting, coordinating, marking and submitting grades||