Faculty of Engineering: How do we improve?

In the Faculty of Engineering, departments have been considering what their results might mean and how they address any areas of concern or to share any areas of good practice. The faculty’s results were broadly positive compared to 2014 and to the wider University results in relation to job role, direct management, departmental and faculty leadership.

Automatic Control and Systems Engineering saw a nine per cent increase in the number of staff responding positively to the question “What have we been doing right, and how can we improve things even further?” This shows that there is cooperation between teams within the department, with a positive result of 76 per cent. However, focus groups held with different staff suggested that some technical staff members felt isolated at times.

The department addressed this feedback by holding monthly informal coffee sessions for technical and administrative staff to help them to get to know each other. The combination of very different roles and physical distance meant that opportunities to mix on a regular basis for these groups of staff were limited previously. Initial feedback about this change is broadly positive.

The department also found that 35 per cent of research staff said that they did not feel their SRDS was useful to them. Focus groups were held to understand why this could be the case. As a result, the SRDS process for 2017 has now been improved, providing more tailored training for research staff and reviewers, and the SRDS form has been amended to make it clearer that research staff should attend this training.

In Civil and Structural Engineering, colleagues identified personal development as a key area for attention. They discussed the issue at a full staff meeting and agreed that all staff should be encouraged to make full use of the 2017 SRDS process to discuss personal development needs. Staff are also encouraged to make use of individual relationships with line managers and department managers, as well as department meetings, to address any concerns and to make suggestions.

The department also committed to exploring results with all staff related to the question, “My department is a place where it is easy to get things done”, to look for opportunities to facilitate cross-functional working practices, and identify areas where clearer communication would be helpful.