25 October 2019 • HNTB
The M&O annual day: an interactive experiment
Compose the annual plan in one day with everyone involved. Listen to what happens in the workplace. Foster engagement and support for management decisions. That was the objective of the M&O faculty annual day. On 11 September, managers, staff members, members of the faculty council, some students and colleagues from central services engaged in an interactive discussion. An experiment that included press conferences, a ‘gossip table’ and a ‘Wall Walk’.
Mario van Boven, M&O faculty office manager: “As FMT we really wanted to do things differently this year. We used to draft an annual plan with very little involvement from staff members. But without the staff members it’s very difficult to achieve the objectives of the annual plan. By engaging people, they will be more likely to recognise the objectives, so there will be more support for the plan.”
Open communication was already an agenda item for the M&O faculty management. A clear example is the wall in the office of the faculty dean. The current annual plan is prominently displayed and organised by themes, projects and objectives. “Everyone can come in here. Every two weeks the management team walks by the wall to discuss the progress of the annual plan.”
The Wall Walk was a key component of the annual day programme. “This was the starting point for developing the 2020 annual plan together.” The event also encompassed various interactive work methods, such as a discussion table where each staff member could talk directly to a manager.
The ‘gossip table’
Simone van der Plaats, education advisor, works at the Education, Knowledge and Communication service department. Together with her colleagues, she created this special edition of the annual day for the M&O faculty. “Staff members have a lot of knowledge and experience and including this greatly enriches the process. Some people find it difficult to provide direct input. That is why, in addition to the discussion table, we created the ‘gossip table’, a table where staff members could provide their input without the presence of a manager.”
The FMT wanted to present its findings during the annual day. Van Boven: “We did this in the form of two press conferences. The first one was held at the end of the morning, when we presented the findings of our staff members. They were able to ask questions or ask for clarification.” The programme managers then got to work in a larger team to write up the annual plan. “We collected enough input on that day to complete 80% of the annual plan. During the second press conference we presented that result to the staff members. Like in a real press conference, the audience was able to ask questions.”
Not a show
The open and transparent communication was well received in the workplace. Dave van Ginhoven, Senior Lecturer European Studies: “At the annual day people really listened to our thoughts and opinions. It certainly wasn’t just a show.”
Networking university of applied sciences
In addition to staff members, several students and colleagues from central services are also involved in the development of the annual plan. Van Boven: “It’s important that everyone can relate to the spearheads that we agreed on with each other. This fits with a networking organisation: bringing together the right people with the right expertise. And that contributes to our ultimate goal: offering high quality education and research.”