Case Study #13: A Large Academic Department in a Public University
Project: Addressing staff teamwork, communication and morale problems
The administrative staff of a large academic department in a public university was a diverse group composed of both long-time career employees and new appointees from outside the institution. Changes of many sorts, including a new administrative Manager, building renovations, and the use of new technology tools, contributed to a stressful atmosphere. The immediate symptoms of the stress were a breakdown in collegiality, and a culture of blame and complaint.
Identify the root causes for the stress and best ideas within the organization about how to address them. Develop a mini-retreat to address the immediate teamwork, communication and morale issues. Prepare a report for the Chair and Manager with longer-term recommendations for organizational improvement.
CMCT's University Practice interviewed the staff, Manager, Chair and the Vice Chairs with whom the staff had regular interactions. A retreat process was then developed and facilitated to help the staff examine its issues and determine areas for positive action. A comprehensive report outlined for the Departmental leadership a number of actions to be taken in the areas of structures, processes, planning, management styles, behaviors and interactions, accountability and skills development.
The mini-retreat had the immediate result of breaking the tension among the staff and between the staff and manager, setting the whole group on a positive direction to resolve problems. The report guided the Chair and Manager in a gradual and systematic improvement of the Department's administrative structures, processes and interactions.
Organizational Needs Assessment, Organizational Problem-Solving, Change Management, Retreat Facilitation, Team Building, Process Improvement.
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