The University of Manchester ILM Accredited Centre completed delivery of its third presentation of its unique Researchers into Management (RIM) ILM Level 5 Award Programme in July 2010 - candidates received their certificates at a pre Xmas awards ceremony. RIM is aimed at University Research Staff on fixed term contracts who are interested in developing a range of management and leadership skills, both to support their current roles and their career development – whether in academia, industry, business or other contexts. Manchester University was formed in 2004 through the merger of the former University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the Victoria University of Manchester. It is the largest single campus based University in the UK employing 10500 staff and has 39000 registered students. The University is at the cutting edge of academic and research excellence, employing large numbers of research staff working on specific projects and assignments. The RIM programme is one of a number of support mechanisms that the University has put in place to support the personal, professional and career development of research staff.
RIM consists of the three ILM Units: Understanding the Management Role; Managing for Efficiency and Effectiveness; and Managing Projects in the Organisation. In addition participants attend a mid programme review day which provides assessment support and includes elements of the ILM Developing the Reflective Manager Module. The programme concludes with a two day residential session ‘Bringing it All Together’, which makes use of the Capsim ‘Foundation’ business simulation. The award is coordinated by the University’s Staff Training and Development Unit and Research Trainers who also contribute three days to the programme. The other contributions are provided by a range of external consultants, selected for their expertise within a particular area. Whilst many centres run a standard Level 5 Award programme we believe that there are a number of innovatory elements to RIM that make it unique amongst its type, and of interest to other ILM Centres.
All participants complete a Saville and Holdsworth Occupational Personality Questionnaire and have access to individual feedback about their work place styles and preferences. Additionally we use the OPQ as a reflective tool to enable participants to map their potential against a range of management competencies. We have found this to be an excellent approach which candidates use to good effect in completing their Personal Development Plans as part of the Mandatory Work Based assignment. It also provides candidates with a clear practical focus for developing their future leadership skills and qualities.
The programme is supported by an on line forum to which participants are required to post their pre and post session ‘home-works’ that make up the balance of guided learning hours needed to complete the qualification. ‘Home-works’ include guided reading and reflection on chapters of the Course Text book, and also facilitate organisational application of the course learning through analysis and commentary on real work incidents, study of the University strategic plan and so on. We have also found that the on line forum enables a strong sense of community to develop amongst candidates who very often have busy scientific research jobs that would otherwise prevent more active face to face networking.
Our approach to assessment of the optional award units is through a holistic project report: rather than assessing each ILM unit separately. The project report requires candidates to investigate a real world management issue in their work place linked to operational and strategic efficiency and effectiveness. Candidates are required to: consult others to identify a range of perspectives on the ‘problem’; identify and justify a change project to develop the situation; and plan in some detail how they would implement their change project using best practice project management and change management methodologies.
RIM concludes with, what some have suggested as the most challenging aspect of the whole programme, a two day residential ‘Bringing it All Together’ workshop designed around the Capsim Foundation Business Simulation. The workshop is facilitated by the Programme Directors and our consultancy partners: Insight Consulting. Foundation is an on line, real time simulation that involves the running of a company developing and taking to market scientific sensors. Programme participants work in teams as separate competing large companies with little strategic direction, and poor financial returns at the outset of the simulation. Teams are required to build up their business, deciding the nature of their product portfolio and aligning the contributions of the four separate business areas of Research and Development, Marketing, Finance and Production. Part way through the simulation the four competing teams are required to merge into three teams simulating a range of take over, merger, and managing change challenges.
Foundation offers a real time experiential learning vehicle. Participants are able to revisit the 'technical' management issues covered in the ILM programme around strategy, quality, entrepreneurship, performance management, HR and so on. In addition the simulation environment offers a unique team, interpersonal and personal challenge:
We have found that the residential provides a symbolic, challenging and memorable finale to the programme.
Feedback on RIM has been excellent: both on the programme as a whole and the residential business simulation:-
‘I would definitely recommend the course. One of the best I have attended on personal development offered by any of the institutions I have been working for’.
‘Excellent course, enjoyable and highly beneficial. I believe that I have and will benefit from this course for a long time to come, and the professional qualification is an excellent addition to my CV’.
‘It gives you more options, it sharpens your tools and gives you information on how you can achieve things in different ways’.
‘I never in a million years expected to get out of it what I got out of it at the end. I have to say it was a really, really positive experience… I learned a lot about communication and how to engage properly with people. How to plan things in advance and all of that, and I have to say, I am very happy in the situation that I am in now, because I am more pro-active in what I am doing.’
‘I expected a balance of theory and practice and believe this was met. The content within both aspects, however, exceeded what I expected as it was challenging and stimulating - perhaps not what I would have initially expected with a management course!’
‘….I have found described in clear terms ideas on management. Then the discovery that an open management style is possible, if not indeed preferable. I liked also that there was an emphasis on letting us think for ourselves and then learning was not imposed but shared. I have also enjoyed the interaction with my fellow course mates very much.’
The Residential and Business Simulation:
‘The two day residential was excellent. It was excellent because it kind of put it into action. Very realistic.‘
‘It was a real eye-opener.’
‘It was very high pressured.’
‘We became like a company, with people over those two days, it was great.’
‘It was very good because it was a safe environment and obviously we had created relationships with people on the course. It was a very much the icing on top of the cake.’
‘There was some challenging of skills through the game, I think. ‘
‘You could observe some very interesting group dynamics and you could connect that to what you learnt before.’
‘We were able to put what we had learnt over the past few months, into practice, in a safe (and fun) environment… Where else can you risk earning / losing millions on a business venture without repercussions… ‘
The RIM programme is coordinated by Dr Gemma Muckle. Researcher Developer, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science and Paul Dixon, Head of Staff Training and Development Unit, University of Manchester.
Gemma Muckle can be contacted by E mail at Gemma.Muckle@manchester.ac.uk
Paul Dixon can be contacted by E mail at Paul.A.Dixon@manchester.ac.uk
Insight Consulting provide facilitation and consultancy support on the Capsim Foundation Business simulation and are Capsim’s UK distributor. Tony Burke of Insight can be contacted by E mail at email@example.com,