Summer Conference – Professional staff


It was the Professionals Summer Conference yesterday and in the morning we had an external speaker, Peter Sylvester, come along to talk to us about communication & networking, in the afternoon we heard about the STAARS project & worked in groups looking at more local communication issues.

We did a number of activities in the morning which helped us consider how we communicate, the first was to talk about Who, What, How & Why we did what we did. This highlighted the need to start with the information most relevant to the person you are talking with & therefore ‘Why’ we do what we do was the most useful starting point as opposed to who we are. A recurrent theme was that at a fundamental level working in a university means the work we do enables skilled graduates to enrich society.

Hearing teams describe what they do highlighted the amount of overlap & inter-dependencies we have within L&LR supporting the need for effective communication.

We also completed a personality test based on DISC (Moutlton Marston) behaviours identifying our own behaviour style. I have a dominate style meaning I have a  tendancy to be task driven & quick to make decisions. The group was then divided by their styles & we were tasked with discussing how best to communicate with the different groups.

I find it helpful to acknowledge that we all have different styles & approaches and therefore need to adapt our communication appropriately to get a message across effectively, although admittedly in real life other pressures & drivers sometimes means I am not as successful as I would like to be.

In the afternoon we had the opportunity to hear from the Centre of Academic Success on the STAARS project which involves working directly with students to identify whether the services they offered were relevant & how best to market them.  Wal (CAS) & a student delivered an interesting presentation on the process they went through and the value of having student input into the service.

We were also given the opportunity to think about the challenges currently facing HE and then in particular BCU and it’s staff and students. This was an useful excersise in highlighting how much the environment has changed & priorities shifted. Some of the challenges we discussed was value for money and trying to do more for less, although appreciated there would be a breaking point and also speed of change especially in technology. I found it useful food for thought with regards to the mornings discussion on the value of working in a university in terms of being part of the process of enriching society.

The day ended with us working in groups looking at a couple of scenario’s and discussing how to resolve any issues and who to communicate with which provided the opportunity to focus on how we communicate internally.

These are my thoughts of the day, anyone want to share how they found it?

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8 thoughts on “Summer Conference – Professional staff

  1. I only attended the morning session but found the DISC behaviour analysis particularly interesting. I agree with what you said about changing communication styles – it’s something I’m very aware I need to try to adopt but in practice I doubt I do it often. I’m hoping one outcome of the session for me will be to try to think more before communicating with people (particularly if I’m asking them to do work with me or am delegating to them) to ensure I’m using the right approach and words/phrases.

  2. I didn’t find the morning session useful. It was useful to be reminded of the contribution we make to BCU’s staff and students in the wider environment – however I would have preferred something more focussed on an academic library, from someone who works in our field.

    The behaviour analysis exercise was woolly and unfocussed – (there are several of these personality type approaches, by the way, others include Myers-Briggs, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) – wonderful title, that). Like astrology, its good for self-discovery, but the categories are self-confirming. In my view its harmless fun unless you ended up following up all of them, then you could probably go insane. Its also big business, for lots of consulting agencies. However Dr. William Moulton Marston as well as creating his theory of personality types, also created Wonder Woman and had what Wikipedia calls a ‘polyamorous’ relationship, so maybe he wasn’t all bad…..

    • Interesting how we have such a different perspective on things. I didn’t find the first section very relevant at all (apart from helping people realise what Evidence Base do). That’s mainly because the staff conference the other week taught me what I needed to know about different departments within the library though, so maybe if I hadn’t attended that it would have been more useful. The contribution to society by supporting staff and students (particularly for the more traditional library service, I’m excluding Evidence Base here!) I thought was an obvious point though I guess it was insightful to learn that the general public (i.e. those working outside libraries such as the facilitator) don’t seem to recognise this.

    • I think I agree with Jo I found the later half more interesting. I also have assumed the contribution to society as a given working in the public sector.

      I’ve done a number of these behaviour/personality tests and have always found they come with the usual caveats, but I do find them a useful opportunity for some self reflection & question how I approach things.

  3. Never mind the general public not acknowledging the contribution that we can make, I think we still have a long way to go to get other colleagues in the University accepting that we have a role to play! There is an interesting paper in Sconul Focus, no. 54 by Heather Marshall called “Proving value in challenging times” (https://www.sconul.ac.uk/publications/newsletter/54/6.pdf) that takes this even further

  4. Enid – we also need to continue the pressure on our CICT colleagues for joined up thinking on identity management, that we started many years ago when these business processes were reviewed. The example of Nottingham, amongst many others is relevant here : http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/~/media/Files/events/ucisa2012/presentations/unishowcases/UCISA2012_Identity_and_Access_Management. Our conversations with our CICT colleagues are easier now but this one needs to be continually pushed at Directorate level.

    Metrics without the necessary infostructure (both human and technical – that Huddersfield had, for example) to support their gathering and analysis, end up measuring for no purpose other than measuring – and add another strain to the breaking point that Damyanti referred to earlier.

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