Gill Aitken: Help for personal development

The commitment and determination shown by staff in supporting all aspects of the University’s work continues to impress and inspire me. As we move back into restrictions similar to those of last spring, some of you will, like me, welcome a distraction from the topic of COVID-19. I hope that some of the tools for personal development, which I discuss here, will provide that distraction as well as offering their intrinsic benefits.

I know how hard it is to make time among the pressures to look after myself and indeed invest in my own development, even when I know that this could make my work easier. Looking after ourselves by relaxation, time out and development of skills and resilience can all relieve that pressure – perhaps especially when it is hard to make the time. This blog today focuses on support for professional services staff – but there will be an update soon on support for academic colleagues by the PVC for Education, Martin Williams.

I, along with many colleagues, have heard loud and clear how important it is to reduce workload pressures on academics and professional services colleagues alike – for example, by holding back non-essential projects, stopping or delaying some planned activities or simply looking at how we can just do things differently.  

We have also made significant progress in recent weeks in how we are supporting colleagues’ development.

Last week our Focus on People programme launched a new web portal to make it easier for professional services staff to assess their career needs and support their professional development.

The web portal has a range of resources to enable professional services staff to connect with new people across the University, build their networks and enhance their skills. Here you can read a number of career profiles highlighting how others have progressed during their time here at the University. It also has details of our new pilot Professional Services Mentoring scheme.

And for those of you who are new to management our People and Organisational Development (POD) team has recently created a set of New Manager Toolkits, 34 new guides covering the essential things any new manager needs to know from Giving Feedback to Understanding Finance.

I warmly invite you to look through the range of new resources available and, if you have any questions or feedback, to email me or the Focus on People team directly.

Ensuring our professional services have the right tools and skills to develop is essential for supporting our overall academic mission and our long-term success as an institution. I am convinced that investing time in ourselves in this way will be personally rewarding as well. The pandemic will play a large role in all of our personal and professional lives for quite some time yet, so let’s take some time out to invest in ourselves.