"Change is a weird thing," best-selling author and business guru Geoff Burch told the English UK Management Conference in Cardiff, "but it is part of a manager's job – to move people who don't want to move, whether you are shaping staff attitudes or chasing reports."
But you must "encourage your staff to grow the change themselves," Geoff continued, "because a change inflicted is a change resisted. It's a manager's job to catch people doing things right and reward them."
Change was one of the themes running through the conference for academic managers and directors, including tips and techniques on how to help your teachers examine their own practice and discover ways to improve and develop, and how small, incremental changes can lead to a big impact.
Mark Long, of BEET Bournemouth, reminded delegates to "stop just doing things and ask 'what's the purpose?' Take control and make small, concrete steps to improvement". While Kaplan's Dawn Harry explained how PIPs (performance improvement plans) can better structure the management process, especially under-performance; and Hannah Alexander-Wright, University of the Arts London, challenged delegates to examine their choice of words, body language and tone, to respond to difficult situations like an adult, not a child or a parent.
The practical tips continued across copyright law and inspections, tailoring your teaching to young learners or learners with special educational needs, and how to avoid stress and conflict – both of which drain managers' time, lead to billions of lost working days and can destroy employee motivation and productivity.
George Pickering warned the room that while some stress can be motivational, too much affects decision making, creates negative patterns of thought and leads to over 40% of staff absences. To avoid this, Edinburgh Language Centre's Alex Cann encouraged delegates to BOOST staff performance and morale with "balanced, objective, observed, specific and timely" feedback, and in her plenary session Lorraine Kennedy reminded the audience to take a break, turn off the technology, find a quiet space, go for a walk and add relaxation into the working day.
Finally, Mark Waistell closed the conference on Friday evening with a warning – the top reason for a business failure is complacency, "look for new opportunities, create a strong support system and communicate," he urged the room. "Are you a boss, pushing people forward or are you a leader coaching your team into superstars?"
We would like to thank everyone who attended and exhibited, our conference sponsors Trinity College London, and Macmillan Education, who sponsored the conference's drinks reception. We hope you will join us at the English UK Annual Conference & AGM 2016 in May.