The governing decisions of a university have widespread ramifications that impact not only the lives of your staff and teachers, but also your students, and even their families or future employers. That is a lot of weight on your shoulders, but many university boards and committees find that when any information reaches them it is already outdated. This means you have to make decisions based on facts that are a few days old, which can be ineffective. Change happens quickly, and seeing the most reliable documentation ensures that you can select the right course of action.
So, why are you not getting the most up-to-date information? The most common answer is administrative effort. Meeting documents have to be made and distributed with ample time for you to read and digest them before the meeting. Board packs are often distributed 7-10 days in advance of the meeting. That means any data you are reading by the time you make a decision is 10 days old!
Another common reason is due to the mechanism in place to transfer information through the ranks. Your hierarchy may be clear-cut, your staff, their managers, the senior leadership team, etc, but, news can either spread like wildfire or travel slowly through this chain. There may be a serious issue that does not feel pressing enough to get brought up at a more senior level and can go undetected for too long.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Firstly, your meetings may not be as productive as you would hope. Meetings should be a time to review and consolidate information, as well as raise issues. The meetings, whether formal or informal, need to have a semblance of a structure, or they can easily go off-topic. This means that team members may not bring up concerns until there is something time-sensitive, whereas, there needs to be an open dialogue, so these problems can be nipped in the bud before they spiral!
Another reason could be the way information is relayed through your hierarchy. Are meeting notes a formality, or are they passed on through word of mouth. A reliable system needs to be in place for you to ensure you are always receiving an accurate report from the lower level management.
There also needs to be open channels of dialogue between faculty, students, the administrative staff and governing bodies. Your teaching staff and students are the purpose of the university, but ineffective communication is stagnating the discussions for improvement. The lack of information being disseminated between professors, students and the administrative arm of the university is resulting in increasing dissatisfaction in teaching and learning, and ultimately harming your institution. So, how can you improve this?
How To Improve Communication:
Getting the most up-to-date information is as simple as communicating effectively. However, how to do this is not immediately obvious, so here are our top tips to efficient communications:
1. Regular Meetings
The simple way to stay on top of things is to meet regularly. This will look different for every team and institution, but faculty meetings should be at least monthly, if not weekly! Larger departments may find it easier if they are grouped into teams. Your administrative staff should be having at least one informal meeting a week to ensure that projects are running smoothly. It would also be beneficial to have one formal meeting a month in order to prepare for any senior team or executive meetings, such as a board meeting.
2. Written Accounts:
In this day and age, we know that accountability comes through documentation. You need to make sure that every formal meeting has an account of events. This means meeting minutes, they can be as simple as an agenda with action items assigned or as detailed as you require, either way they are essential to the smooth running of both project management and future meetings. Meeting minutes of meetings between subordinates ensure that the senior management can easily oversee any projects and be aware of any issues early on.
3. Utilise Technology:
Every University has had to adapt to remote and online working during the pandemic in order to continue to function. You may even now still have some members working in a remote or hybrid fashion, but your remote workflow systems should carry on into this new era of working. There is likely a software programme which will make any part of your processes more simple and more effective. You should research and use this to your advantage!
Teams is a good place to start, they have a wide variety of integrations that will help improve your project management and information trail. Instead of traditional paper meeting packs, switch to digital! This will ensure that a wider range of people, whilst still remaining secure, will be able to access the information they need at any moment's notice. Going digital with meeting packs can also mean that information can be updated right up until the last minute on any file. If you are monitoring the finances of your institution it is best to have the latest statistics (preferably from the morning of the meeting rather than the week prior), before making any decisions!
We recommend seeing where your pain points lie in your flow of information, is it not enough communication between different teams, or are all your staff members aware of their roles and responsibilities in a project? This can be done through an internal review of your processes or an employee survey, your staff likely know what needs to be improved upon! Then, you can set up an action-plan to improve this. There is always a solution for any governing problems!
How Can Convene Help You With Your Chain Of Information?
Convene is an award-winning Board Portal now available fully integrated with Microsoft Teams. This means all of our meeting and workflow features are available for your whole organisation, not just limited to your Board. This includes integrated voting, annotation, Board Pack access, and e-Sign, as well as extensive reporting features.
- Convene will support your pre-meeting process by allowing you to make an agenda and board pack with a simple drag-and-drop. No more waiting for the last document to come in before you send out the board pack!
- Enhance communication during the meeting with meeting notes, voting features, and Action Items - as well as numerous other features!
- Convene is purpose-built for security. With 256-bit encryption and granular access controls, you can rest assured your data protection is fully-GDPR compliant.
- The software is the perfect mid-point between cost and functionality. Don’t sacrifice premium features to stay within budget when you can have quality and cost-efficiency.
- We are a trusted organisation across numerous industries. Our customer success case studies are a testament to the quality of the service we provide.