After taking the ‘Observation and Giving Feedback’ course with International House online in the autumn, their Performance Management course piqued my interest this spring. And I wasn’t disappointed.
The format of the course — asynchronous, online, structured over six weeks — was the same as the previous course (which I wrote about last month). Also familiar was my tutor and her insightful comments on the message boards and constructive feedback on my weekly assignments and overall 2,500-word final portfolio report. As with my previous course submission, this document has already formed the basis of change and I’m trialling a new approach this term.
The focus here, as with the course on Observation and Feedback, was on meshing ideas and theory with reflection on existing practice to help participants identify the strengths of their current systems of Performance Management and then to plan improvements relevant to their specific context. The difference in our contexts was hugely relevant and helpful, in my opinion, as we were all able to draw on differing current situations, alongside our career history to offer ideas, problems and solutions to one another.
Early in the course we were asked to reflect on an anonymous case-study employee and, although we weren’t always asked to do so in the weekly assignments, I tried to situate my thinking around my case-study teacher. What could be preventing them from performing at their best? Which of those factors were in the direct control of the company? What theories of motivation might apply to them? What could the company change that might help them work more effectively? I found this incredibly useful as it helped me admit to myself that while there were proactive and practical things we could do in the workplace (already set in motion), there is also a limit to what I can achieve as a line manager.
One aspect that I particularly liked about this course was the depth of reading that we did. While the workload was certainly manageable alongside full-time work, the selected readings from writers like Maslow, Herzberg and Vroom gave a sense of academic grounding to the learning that I was doing.
I would thoroughly recommend the course to other Directors of Studies who are relatively new in post/new to line-managing teaching staff, and who want to develop their performance management cycle in a reflective and systematic way.