Department Chair Action Plan

Published: 2019-04-16 19:39:49
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Wesleyan University
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Organizational Governance and Decision-Making Structure

The senior most decision making organ at King Faisal University (KFU) is the Board of Trustees, which comprises of internationally recognized scholars and political leaders from the region. The role of the board is to offer strategic leadership and to make major decisions regarding the strategic plans of the university. Notably, the board is not involved in the daily running of the university, but is responsible for the approval of the annual operation strategy and addressing issues related to the senior management personnel. KFU also has a President who is the senior most manager involved with daily operations of KFU. The individuals that hold the position of the resident at KFU are drawn from the academic staff. Notably, one is required to have a wealth of experience in running the affairs of a higher education. The President at KFU is required to employ managerial skills to implement the strategic plan as identified by the board. The President also serves as the secretary to the Board of Trustees, as an advisor during the preparation of the strategic plans. The president is deputized by four Vice Presidents who oversee Academic Affairs, Postgraduate Studies, Girls Affairs and the Development divisions. The Vice Presidents are individually responsible for the making the management decision within their own divisions. The university also has Deans for each school whose role is to make academic decisions for their own schools in collaboration with the Vice President Academic Affairs and Vice President for Postgraduate Studies. The Deans are deputized by the Head of Departments who play administrative roles in various departments within each school. KFU also has Program Heads whose role is to manage the affairs of each program under the different schools in the institution. 

King Faisal University has a shared governance where the faculty members also take up various the management of various affairs in the institution. Given the elaborate governance structure at the institution, there is some level of tensions between the management, faculty members, and administrators. The lengthy decision-making process is one of the main issues that leads to conflict between the different members due to the delay in the implementation of various strategies. There are also some conflicts involving the unions given the high amount of work that the institution requires its staff to execute. There is increased level of dualism of authority and control which is mainly evident in the management of the academic staff given that it is not clear whether they should be managed by the deanship or the various program heads at KFU. 

Organizational Culture and Institutional Power Structures

The KFU culture is indicative of a supportive environment where individual staff members are provided with direct mentorship by their leaders with the aim of nurturing them to be future leaders. The subculture is indicative of an institution where feedback is shared regularly to ensure that the staff can improve their performance. Notably though, the sub-culture does not seem to recognize the role that the different nationalities of the staff members could play in determining the way they are supposed to be managed. The local customs seem to influence the communication between the staff as well as other aspects of the organizational culture at KFU. 

King Faisal University values include remaining committed to promoting leadership through innovation and collaboration and facilitating teamwork among the members of the staff.  Another KFU value indicates that the academic operations within the institution should be guided by rigorous and honest intellectual engagement which define the academic traditions and promote inquiry among the faculty and the students. The institution also commits itself to promoting lifelong learning among the students and the faculty members through the stimulation of academic growth and provisions towards improving the societal welfare. The institutional value also ensures commitment to the pursuit of quality and excellence in the various engagements such as teaching, learning, and innovations. 

Based on the values outlined, KFU undertakes to enhance the freedom of inquiry through the promotion of rigorous academic exploration. However, due to the different roles that the faculty is required to participate in such as administrative work, there minimal time that remains for the engagement in activities that are geared towards the promotion of academic freedom such as research and exploration. Thus, despite the institution indicating its high focus on academic freedom, there is little strategic preparation to ensure that this value is upheld. The institution also has some level of professional bureaucracy that stems from the elaborate structure that governs its affairs. Notably, there is no divided loyalty given that the management approach that is adopted across the institution is largely driven through mentorship hence enabling the staff to be loyal to their managers. Like most other institutions, there is tenure for each staff member as demonstrated by the training that was being provided to the interviewee to prepare them to take up the deanship later. It was not evidently clear whether there was any post-tenure review for the staff members once they have complete their tenure. 

Systemic Perspectives

From the interview, it was demonstrable that there are systems within King Faisal University (KFU). For example, the interviewee pointed out that there is constant communication with the staff as one of the approaches used to provide motivation which also indicates that feedback is regularly provided. The Head of Department at KFU also engages in conversations to give a live example of what it took to rise to the current position as a way of inspiring the staff to work harder in their different roles. The department works as a loosely coupled set of systems given that each member of the staff is required to take responsibility for their different roles. 

One of the identifiable environmental pressures within the department and the organization, in general, is bureaucracy. For example, the interviewee indicates that the organizational structure that has been adopted does not allow room for the Head of Department to handle financial matters. King Faisal University also embodies organized anarchy which stems out from the many bottlenecks that staff members must undergo to resolve the different issues that affect their area of work. 

Part 2: Organizational Issues

King Faisal University has two main organizational issues that impact the implementation of strategy in a negative manner. The university experiences a shortfall of the human resources especially the academic healthcare faculty members and financial difficulties. These challenges present a strain in the delivery of content to the students in the institution given that it takes longer to address various courses. 

The university has a challenge in the number of the academic staff available to teach at the institution. The shortage has rendered the staff unable to have a balance between playing administrative roles at the institution while still engaging in research. Given that these two functions are highlighted in the organization’s vision, the shortage of the staff then renders the organization members unable to press towards the realization of the vision. The lack of adequate staff members also leads to the inability of KFU to provide the required learning to the students. The students also lack the required amount of medical supplies for use during their course and end up being delayed in completing the courses as outlined in the academic calendar.  

Closely related to the issue of staffing is the existence of financial difficulties within the organization. The lack of adequate funding is largely linked to the lengthy and bureaucratic structures that exist in the organization. For example, whenever a request for financial support is made, it must pass through several administrative channels for approval and thus delays the availability of the funds. The lack of autonomy among the staff who deal with the daily student issues at the department level to address financial matters also presents a major challenge regarding the availability of the funds. For example, the interviewee indicates that as a departmental head, it is impossible to deal with financial issues as the organizational structure does not have such a provision. These bottlenecks that the operational staff experience present challenges in the running of organizational affairs and may negatively impact the achievement of the desired goals as well as the performance of the students.  

Part 3: Role of the Chair in Addressing the Issues

The Head of the Department who is also the chair has specific roles that they should play to address the issue of lack of adequate faculty staff which is further compounded by the lengthy approval processes which negatively affects the availability of the required funds. The chair plays a crucial role as a manager of an academic institution. For example, the chair is required to place advertisements for different job vacancies and participate extensively in the recruitment process. The dean, however, does not engage in the planning and advertisement of the different positions but takes charge of confirming the candidates that have been offered various positions at KFU. The chair’s role also differs from that of the academic staff as they must deal with disciplinary issues from a management perspective. 

As a manager, the chair is unable to engage in the operational planning activities such as resource allocation and budgeting due to the bureaucratic issues that exist in the organization. However, the chair as a manager has the role to make a determination on the prioritization of the budgetary allocation for each strategic plan. Given a chance, the chair could also determine the financial needs for each operational aspect in their department and contribute to the determination of a number of resources that should be allocated. 

The chair as a manager plays a critical role in enforcing accountability, evaluating the achievement of desired goals and assessing the performance of the staff. The chair is involved in the academic affairs such as the supervision of the curriculum at the department level, a role which is executed under the administrative capacity. As a leader, the chair is required to engage in evaluation of the student needs to facilitate the planning and appropriate allocation of resources to ensure that the students are well prepared to realize their full potential. The chair as a manager engages in the process of evaluating the performance of the faculty at different levels of the curriculum. The assessment carried out by the chair includes evaluation of the participation in student activities, engagement in committee work and research activities.

As a leader, the chair also plays a critical role in the academic institution. The chair is required to motivate the staff working in their department to ensure that they can meet the outlined goals. The communication styles for the chair is one of motivating the staff to ensure that they can reach their goals. The role of motivating the staff to reach their goals is embedded on the chair’s role as transformation leader who seeks to empower the staff. 

Part 4: Recommendations and Plan as a Chairperson

As a leader of the department, I would adopt a transformative approach to institute the changes that are required to address the issues that exist. Transformative leadership would ensure that the staff can address the challenges they face in their areas of work on a short-term basis so that the students can continue learning as we pursue permanent solutions (Mezirow & Taylor, 2011). As the chair of the department, I would initiate changes in the way the teaching is planned. The change would help to reduce the strain that is being experienced and the delay in completing the courses as outlined in the calendar year. For example, I would reduce the amount of time that is spent by the faculty members attending external events and seminars and redirect the time to actual teaching to ensure adequate materials are covered according to the calendar. 

Another short-term change that I would institute as a manager in the department would be to outsource some of the functions that the faculty is required to engage in to ensure that they create more time to plan and execute teaching operations. For example, if faculty members are working on research projects, I would recommend that they outsource the operational aspects to external consultant and work on the most crucial parts. The literature indicates that outsourcing roles such as data analysis and interpretation of the results would help to free up time for faculty members to focus more on academic matters (Mezirow & Taylor, 2011). The strategy would ensure that they faculty can spend more time on teaching and hence ensure that courses are covered as required. 

Another short-term measure that I would implement as a manager would include redirecting resources from various areas to address the shortage of finances that exist within the department. For example, I would seek to reduce the amount of money spent on marketing and channel the resources towards facilitating the students to access medical supplies for their learning. These short-term goals would generally offer quick solutions to the current problems in a cost-effective manner and would allow for easy decision making (Mezirow & Taylor, 2011). 

One of the long-term goals that I would seek to pursue as a leader in the department would be to institute a change in the policy regarding who deals with the financial issues. It was evident that the departmental chairs were unable to have direct input in the finance operations. The issue which is related to bureaucratic administrative procedures can only be addressed through an institutional policy change. In an institution where there is bureaucracy, the process of policy change tends to take longer due to the various bottlenecks that one could find as they seek assistance from the persons in charge of the operations (Mezirow & Taylor, 2011). Thus, instituting the policy change is likely to take a longer time. However, the policy would help to ensure that the departmental chairs are involved in the financial allocation, budgeting, and planning as well as other accounting procedures. The involvement of the departmental heads in the financial planning would help to ensure that they give their input based on the specific needs that are experienced by the faculty and the student. According to the existing literature, there is a need for higher education institutions to engage the faculty members in the budgetary planning as this has been shown to improve the decision-making process and the prioritization of strategies (Steinert, Naismith, & Mann, 2012). Thus, the financial planning would mirror the actual institutional operations hence eliminating the current challenges. 

Given that part of the nursing skills training can be carried out through technological innovations, as a manager in the department, I would seek to adopt technology to take over some of the functions. For example, as opposed to having a faculty member participate in all the sessions of skills training including the ones meant for practicing, I would adopt technology that helps to demonstrate various skills to the learners. The use of technology to help learners to practice their clinical skills allows them to improve their ability to perform different tasks without the worry that they may fail hence increasing the level of competence (McGaghie, Issenberg, Petrusa, & Scalese, 2010). The new technology could be computer generated illustrations for various skills or videos of skill instructors demonstrating how to complete some of the clinical work. The students would then require having faculty members supervise their initial learning sessions to ensure that they can capture the basics. After these sessions, the student would then rely on the technology to advance their skills without seeking support from the faculty members and thus enable them to have more time to address other issues within the institution. 

The process of instituting change in the department would have major obstacles given the way the institution is structured regarding its operations. For example, the bureaucracy would be one of the main obstacles in the process of instituting change that is required to facilitate the department to achieve the desired outcomes. The bureaucracy would also lead to challenges in obtaining the necessary resources that are required to facilitate the different changes required to address the issues that exist within the department (Engelmann, 2014). Considering the past changes that have taken place in the department, the bureaucracy led to lengthy engagements as several members of the staff felt that the changes were not necessary and that they would lose some of their authority if the changes were instituted. Thus, when implementing the new changes, transformative leadership skills will be employed to ensure that all members are informed about the role that these changes will play in propelling the department and the institution towards the achievement of its objectives. 

There are technological investments that would be required to ensure that the changes are implemented including the technology for clinical skills training as well as the financial technology changes to facilitate the departmental chairs to actively participate in the financial operations. The inclusion of the departmental chairs in the budgetary processes would lead to various changes in the demographics of the organization which would have to be anchored in a policy outlining how the cooperation between the various personnel would take place in the process. For example, it would be necessary to define the roles that all parties play in the budget making process to avoid confusion and repletion of functions which would lead to time wastage (Curtis, de Vries, & Sheerin, 2011). 

Given the organizational culture and bureaucracy that exists at King Faisal University, the recommendations identified are likely to lead to some level of resistance. Drawing from previous changes that have been introduced at the university, the management was not open to the ideas when they were initially proposed. The resistance, in this case, could be exacerbated by the fact that the new changes seek to introduce a policy that could alter the way various aspects of the university are governed. Thus, to ensure that the resistance is dealt with, it will be important to hold regular discussions with the different individuals who will be directly or indirectly affected by the changes to demonstrate the value that could be derived from instituting the proposed changes. Using transformative skills where the faculty members can provide their input is likely to reduce the level of resistance that is experienced when introducing changes in institutions of higher learning (Mezirow & Taylor, 2011).  

References

Curtis, E. A., de Vries, J., & Sheerin, F. K. (2011). Developing leadership in nursing: exploring core factors. British Journal of Nursing, 20(5), 306-309. Doi: 10.12968/bjon.2011.20.5.306

Engelmann, L. (2014). Leadership in Nursing Education. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 9(3), 101-102. 10.1016/j.teln.2014.04.002

McGaghie, W. C., Issenberg, S. B., Petrusa, E. R., & Scalese, R. J. (2010). A critical review of simulationbased medical education research: 2003–2009. Medical education, 44(1), 50-63. Doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03547.x

Mezirow, J., & Taylor, E. W. (Eds.). (2011). Transformative learning in practice: Insights from community, workplace, and higher education. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Steinert, Y., Naismith, L., & Mann, K. (2012). Faculty development initiatives designed to promote leadership in medical education. A BEME systematic review: BEME Guide No. 19. Medical teacher, 34(6), 483-503. Doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2012.680937

 

 

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