The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

6 Ways HR Can Improve Staff-Faculty Relationships

Today at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2013, attendees learned about staff-faculty partnerships from concurrent session presenters Susan Christy, Ph.D., Author and Higher Education Consultant and Deborah Orlowski, Ph.D., Senior Learning Specialist at the University of Michigan.

If you weren’t at today’s session, check out the article “Transforming Staff-Faculty Relationships: Progress in Closing the Great Divide.” In it, Christy (together with Jacqueline Matthews, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Lehigh University) provides insight into ways HR can help improve the working relationship between staff and faculty. Here are six ways they suggest increasing awareness and promoting collaboration, respectful communication and appreciation of others:

    1. Highlight successful staff-faculty relationships. Look for opportunities to recognize excellent staff-faculty working relationships on your campus. Colleges and universities often recognize individual staff and faculty members’ achievements on their websites, in publications and at campus events. Many of these instances can easily be transformed into celebrating the partnerships between staff and faculty.
    2. Create principles of community for your campus and/or strengthen the application of your existing principles. Post the principles prominently around campus and on your website, encourage others to refer to the principles often, and consider the principles a contract/commitment for both staff and faculty when mediating campus conflicts.
    3. Upgrade your staff training. Plan your staff and management trainings to include specifics about academia, faculty priorities and work styles, how to anticipate faculty needs and communicate professionally with faculty, and how to work as a campus-wide team to support faculty. Encourage external trainers and consultants to customize their approaches for academia and your campus.
    4. Expand your faculty leadership training. Help faculty to manage their staff-faculty relationships effectively, learn collaboration and delegation skills, and discuss the two mindsets (and expectations) about organizational structure.
    5. Consider new chair orientation. Help academic department chairs understand more about how to manage faculty and support collegial and respectful staff-faculty partnerships. You may find department chairs to be conflict-averse. They may need support or encouragement to take a stand against inappropriate faculty behavior.
    6. Orient new employees to academia and work with faculty. Help new staff employees understand academia and how it is different from working in the private sector, how to understand and work effectively with faculty, and how to create a team with other staff members across campus.

What is on your list to improve staff-faculty relationships on campus? Share with us in the comment section below.

If you want to learn more, check out the full list and article which appeared in the CUPA-HR eNews August 8, 2012.