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How we work together

The ‘How We Work Together’ principles are being used to guide both the people and structural design and technology and process development. They will help to shape the most important factor in implementing these changes successfully: our culture and behaviours.

These principles reflect the culture of the University: our heritage, our progress over recent years, how we work now, as well as our future aspirations. 

Students as our focus

  • Work as one team delivering consistent, personalised, transformative experiences for all our students
  • Put students at the heart of our services, delivering efficient, effective, equitable and empowering services informed by user insight and measurement
  • Champion the importance of the student experience, ensuring it informs our decisions and is recognised as the responsibility of every team

Single Professional Services team

  • Clear and consistent structures, effective matrix working and peer networks
  • Collectively recruit, manage and develop colleagues to ensure high performing teams
  • Staff quickly and proactively develop local knowledge, while having wider knowledge and capacity to move flexibly depending on business needs
  • Integrate our values of equality, diversity and inclusion

Excellent service provision

  • Consistently friendly, approachable and professional, treating all students and colleagues equitably
  • Treat students as individuals, understand and anticipate their specific needs
  • Ensure our knowledge and skills are up to date so we can provide effective advice and guidance
  • Consider all students when designing and delivering services, especially those facing systemic disadvantages

Partnership working

  • Work with students as partners in design, development and delivery of services
  • Effective partnership working between academic and Professional Services colleagues based on respect, trust and collaboration
  • Be accessible to students, colleagues and stakeholders – be locally-based where appropriate
  • Embrace flexible ways of working

Meeting our legal and compliance obligations

  • High levels of integrity and ethical behaviour
  • Prioritise legal and compliance activities such as equality impact assessments and audits
  • Focus on the accuracy of student data, with individuals taking responsibility for data they enter or manage
  • Take individual and collective responsibility for complying with institutional policies and processes (e.g. health and safety, UKVI)

Simplicity, consistency, and agility

  • Work in agile, streamlined ways – avoid unnecessary approval or second-checking where possible
  • Joined up, consistent approaches to planning and budgeting
  • Ensure activities and investment are aligned to organisational priorities
  • Same baseline expectation of service provision across all areas
  • Flex as required to meet local needs

Trust, recognise and develop

  • Minimise layers of management – give ownership at the right level
  • Delegate to the lowest appropriate point and give people authority to make decisions
  • Individual responsibility to take ownership of issues or problems
  • Have open and honest conversations, and avoid being defensive
  • Give praise, credit and recognise staff for their work
  • Invest in ourselves and each other, taking time for continuous professional development

Continuous improvement

  • Individual responsibility to escalate issues and ensure swift resolution
  • Continually review policy and practice
  • Foster a culture of creativity, innovation, continuous improvement and development
  • Create simple models for institution-wide adoption
  • Proactively anticipate barriers and act to remove them
  • See continuous improvement as the responsibility of all colleagues
  • Lead and deliver change effectively, supporting affected individuals
  • High levels of digital literacy in all PS colleagues

Where have these principles come from?

  • They aren't completely new – most exist in some form across the University and our PS teams already, but they haven't all been pulled together in one place before.
  • We have reviewed best practice across our own teams and the HE sector to understand and make sure we reflect the very best culture and behaviour that exists within our own University and beyond.
  • We want to create a clear vision for colleagues of what 'great' looks like in order to ensure our upcoming changes are owned by all of us and implemented successfully.
  • We want to encourage the adoption of strong partnerships between teams that perform similar or related functions in different areas – across Schools, Faculties, and central Directorates - for the benefit of our students. The introduction of new technology will really help to support this.
  • We believe that these principles should help guide us through future change or events that we can't predict – 2020 has helped us to test and demonstrate how these principles work in action.