Talent Management Crisis in Higher Education: Challenge One

by Val McDonough on 09/12/2012

Performance Management is creating quite a buzz in higher education lately; even more so the talk of the broader talent management strategy and its impact for employee and faculty populations in colleges and universities.  Why?  Because, like any other sector, educational institutions struggle with how to evaluate and develop employee behaviors that support the goals and missions of the organization.  It’s no wonder that learning institutions, those that teach students and create leaders, are looking internally, to ensure that their employees are “making the grade”.

While there is increasing focus on measuring talent, leaders are finding it challenging to put together performance management strategies that fit within their higher education communities and philosophies, yet respects the nuances of all position types.  For example, staff objectives as compared with faculty goals.

As the Strategic Consultant for PeopleAdmin, I hear about the various challenges you might face and will be offering tips on how you can overcome them.

Challenge du jour:  Higher Education is not a private sector institution and we can’t be treated in the same way.
Absolutely, I agree.  But, similar to other industries, you still face accountability – compliance, student enrollment, funding, research, declining budgets.  Both private sector business and higher education organizations recognize that they need to create high performing cultures, and they need to do this throughout the organization.  This doesn’t mean that you need to have a single performance management process; the anomalies of higher education need to be embraced.

Leaders are not born.  They are made.  You have heard this over and over again.  John Maxwell talks about it in his book, “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.  Minnesota Board of Regents is talking about it in relation to their aging staff and measuring their contribution to the colleges reporting to their Regents.  The University of Southern California has been discussing this issue for years – all focusing on performance management and employee leadership development.

Quite simply, all employees, who are paid through institutional payroll, whether a food service worker, an administrative assistant or professor need to have accountability to the organization.  Staff and faculty, regardless of position type, bargaining unit, subject matter expertise or tenure, should be measured on specific competencies that relate to favorable outcomes for the institution.  In support, these include areas, for example, team building, management and development of staff and the demonstration of leadership capabilities.

So how do you consistently measure certain behaviors, skills and competencies among all employees when so many diverse businesses are operating under several umbrellas within a decentralized institutional enterprise?  While there are unique attributes of each population, we need to embrace their different business objectives, yet still create synchronicity for reaching the institutions primary goals.

As MC Partners LLC, a consultancy for higher education remarks, “What specifically is the relationship between the array of campus leaders (department heads, directors, deans, vice presidents, shared governance leadership, etc.) and the processes for planning and decision-making in areas related to budget, finance, stewardship, and sustainability? Best results usually occur when leadership teams assume unified joint responsibility for all campus goals—including resource management.

A performance-oriented organizational culture is one that values, promotes, celebrates, and rewards excellence. In high-performing institutions, responsibility for improving performance is embedded in every position description. Trained in performance management fundamentals, personnel at all levels are held accountable, contribute to improvement, and are recognized and rewarded for doing so.”

PeopleAdmin supports more than 750 higher education institutions for talent management solutions, including performance management.  With our Performance Management solution, schools have the opportunity to take manually-based performance evaluations and automate them for greater planning, timing, visibility and employee development.  PeopleAdmin allows for the personalization of your talent management strategy, including the employee lifecycle, from acquisition, onboarding, measurement and retention. Stays tuned for other common challenges and please provide feedback on your own experiences with performance management.

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