Strategic Planning in Higher Education

Culture of higher education

In the business world, organization culture has raised a significant concern and is a determining factor towards their success. Studies indicate that the growing interest and research activity in organization culture has an array of mixed blessings with the highlighted awareness and the increasingly broad and diverse cultural concepts (Tripathi and Mukerji, 2013). Human resource practitioners also view cultures as a new approach that can not only solve a variety of organization problems but will also serve to explain each event that occurs in an organization. At the same time, there exist varying definitions, standards for cultural understanding.

Cultural influence in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) occurs at many levels with departments. Since culture can vary from department to department in an organization, the main goal of understanding institution culture is to eliminate the occurrences and consequences that exist related to cultural conflict then help foster the development of shared or divide goals and objectives.  A critical analysis of the cultural dynamics in an institution setup and system assists the management to understand and significantly reduce possible problems. Equally essential, a better understanding will enable the institution to recognize how the actions and shared goals can be implemented. 

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Strategic management and planning in an institution require a better understanding of cultural dynamics. This is because alienating the aspects of dimension and cultural dynamics to management and planning will help the leaders assess the reason for every differentiation that might occur in institution responsiveness and the overall performance (Valimaa and Ylijoki, 2008). This is expected to provide a platform for evaluation and avoid possible consequences prior, not after decisions are made. On the same note, it is essential to reiterate the understanding of the cultural aspects of an institution to the panacea of all problems that exists in administration. A better understanding of Higher Education Institutions’ culture will not increase student enrolment or an increase of funds to support the existing research projects. However, a precise translation of organization culture provides critical vision of the various possible avenues the management cab choose to reach a decision to help increase enrollment or even increase funds to support various projects. 

When decision-making contexts become unclear, the cost of operation increases and the resources become harder to allocate in Higher Education Institutions. During this time, leaders can benefit from a better understanding of the institution cultural entities. At the same time, to implement various decisions, the institution management needs to be properly informed on cultural diversity to help articulate decisions that will speak the needs of every individual in the institution and contribute to the long-term success. One institution may apply a history of formal and autocratic leadership and achieve success while another may use informal and oriented leadership and still achieve the set goals and objectives. In this case, this only happens when cultural attributes are understood and decisions made in line with the cultural factors. 

Feedback to employees

Many organization and institution supervisors fear providing feedback to their low-level employees. The existing fear is that they are afraid of holding a candid conversation in relation to job performance since this can damage their relationships. Others are not comfortable with possible interpersonal conflict. It is important that the management develops an effective approach that will help manage and improve the employee performance which is to engage directly with the workforce actively. These discussions need to incorporate the performance expectations and the debate of the overall performance after a given period of performance review (Garber, 2004).  To ensure that the performance feedback is effectively communicated to the employees and prevent damaging the relationship that exists between institution employees and the management, a guideline can be followed.

Establish an appropriate feedback setting: Generally; the employees expect feedback annually. On the same note, research indicates that feedback is effective in changing employee behavior as compared to remuneration strategies. Institutions need to give feedback in a private one-to-one setting whether negative or positive. This is because publicly criticizing an employee after the performance review process will send a message that the management is not supportive. In this case, therefore, it is important to take time and carefully tune the message and state the goal of the conversation thereby giving an appropriate setting for feedback. Furthermore, offering a two-way discussion with the employees will help manage the employee reaction.

Focus on the feedback facts: when giving feedback, the institution management should highlight on the specific behaviors to adjust on. For instance, rather than characterizing on the employee as efficient or difficult, the appraiser can offer specific occasions when a faculty member demonstrated the said behavior. It is good to be open to new perspectives that may change the interpretation on the behavior.  

Balance the positive and the negative performance feedback: Organization management often overlooks the need to give specific positive feedback. Giving a mix of both positive and negative feedback at the same times is not necessary but rather offer specific positive feedback from time to time to help establish an open and constructive relationship that allows employees to convey positive feedback easier.

Provide development opportunities: It is important to talk with the employees and provide reports on development opportunities. These development opportunities can include training, a one-on-one conversation, and learning opportunities. The management needs to ask the employees how they view their strengths and development needs and discover how they can help the institution achieve the set goals and objectives. 

Follow through: Giving performance feedback and development opportunities cannot be enough but it is important to create performance improvement frameworks which involve checking on barriers that prevent change and recognize rewards performance improvement in the institution. Lack of proper follow-up activity from the management may not provide incentive tool to ensure a lasting change in employee behavior. 

Performance rating scales

Rating scales has been widely used in both profit and non-profit organizations to measure employee performance. It is important to evaluate the employee performance and provide periodic feedback using specific job-related skills and abilities which are defined on a scale. The rating scale essentially consists of two major parts namely a list of characteristics and some scale to indicate the level of performance on each item assessed (Schloss and Cragg, 2013).  The main advantage of using the rating scale method is to incorporate some form of uniformity and consistency in employee performance in the institutions of higher learning. On the other side, the disadvantageous aspect is that the manager may not realize that it can help in the strategic management and planning process. Of importance to the rating system is that the management should supplement the method with a discussion with the employees.

There are various rating scales used to evaluate the performance of employees in an organization or institution setting:

Graphic Scales: This rating scale is not based on the behavior of the employee. In this case, when the appraisal is done, judgment is done continuously on a specific area and anchored at various points boosted with adjectival labels such as good, satisfactory or poor. 

Behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS): using this rating system to evaluate employee performance, appraisers use performance as a continuum and focus on the observable employee behavior. The behavioral statements are then used to rate the employees. The setback is that it consumes more time and is prone to errors. 

Behavioral observation scales (BOS): Just like the behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS), this rating scale offers a range of indicative behavior of the employee and asks the institution management to the highlight of specific examples of behavior then rate the occurrence of the set behavior to some extent. The rating method is also time-consuming and hard for appraiser without the opportunity to observe the employee being rated. In this case, it is, therefore, essential to set goals in order to motivate the employees. On the same note, the method is legally acceptable. The effects that both behavior observation scale (BOS) and graphic rating on job performance is that the application of BOS approach increases works satisfaction more as compared to the graphic rating. Feedback done through goal setting lead to high job performance and institution commitment as compared to feedback done without a set goal. This is regardless of the rating scale used. Additionally, the combination of behavior observation scale, feedback and goal setting result to a significantly high satisfaction among the employees.

Recommendation

Due to the prevailing technological innovations that affect institution review systems, there is a need to incorporate regular feedback into Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that do not include rating scale into the institution’s performance management (Kohn et al., 2016).

Conclusion

Strategic management and planning involve multiple components with each component serving a specific purpose towards ensuring effective administration and organization development.  The various components involve planning tools that are used either separately or in groups. One significant purpose of organization planning is to ensure that the individual institution components align with each other for the general support needed to ensure sustainable growth. Performance management involves various steps used by organization management to work together and plan, monitor while at the same time reviewing the workforce objectives and their long-term contribution to the organization. As compared to the performance review conducted yearly, the performance management is continuous and long-term that involves setting objectives, assessing the progress of the set goals and objectives and providing the employees with feedback and coaching. Performance review system provides the management with an opportunity to evaluate the employee’s contribution towards the institution success and is essential towards the development of powerful workforce in higher education institutions (HEIs). After the performance review, feedback is provided to help manage and improve the employee performance which is to engage directly with the workforce actively. It is important to evaluate the employee performance and provide periodic feedback using specific job-related skills and abilities which are defined on a scale. The rating scale essentially consists of two major parts namely a list of characteristics and some scale to indicate the level of performance on each item discussed with the employees. These discussions need to incorporate the performance expectations and the debate of the overall performance after a given period of performance review. Finally, as a result of the current technological innovations that affect institution strategic management and planning, there is a need to incorporate regular feedback into Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that do not include rating scale into the institution’s performance management. Additionally, higher education institutions need to examine how to lead their institutions better and find approaches which fit into their dynamic context.  

Bibliography

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Kohn, M., Lefferts, S., Walinsky, L., and Ivanov, S. (2016). ORGANIZATIONAL STUDY OF A MAJOR UNIVERSITY: RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHANGE IN HIGHER EDUCATION. International Journal of Organizational Innovation (Online), 8(4), 77. 

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Tripathi, P., and Mukerji, S. (2013). Marketing strategies for higher education institutions: technological considerations and practices. Hershey, Pa, IGI Global (701 E. Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, Pennsylvania, 17033, USA). http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=572686. 

Tromp, S., and Ruben, B. D. (2010). Strategic planning in higher education: a guide for leaders. Washington, D.C., National Association of College and University Business Officers. 

Valimaa, J., and Ylijoki, O.-H. (2008). Cultural perspectives on higher education. Dordrecht, Springer.