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Monash eSolutions

Monash eSolutions: Finding our Mojo with I Contribute

Monash has made effective use of the CAUDIT Career Development Kit as part of its programmatic approach to professional and performance development. 

The IT Department’s journey began in mid-2010 as Monash signed up for an ambitious transformation of its IT function towards a radical new vision.  We signed up to move from “old IT” to “new IT”, to create the IT function that Monash needed now and into the future.  We had all the classic elements of an IT transformation at play, from reforming the business as usual and investment spending profile, to adopting best practice models, modernising our approach to customer service and the internal organisation of our teams around their current capabilities.  We were creating a new organistation called eSolutions, with a new vision, to become a partner to the University.

There was one small problem however, we didn’t have the capability we needed to realise our vision.  We needed to work on both skills and mindset to become a partner to the University.  In particular, we needed to grow from a technology-focussed function to a business-focussed function.  

In late 2011, the inter-connectedness of our challenges became clear.  It was obvious that in order to transform the organisation we needed to also transform our approach to learning, and thereby, transform our people.  We knew that we had to drive individual skill and performance growth in order to realise our ambitious transformation agenda.

To do this we wanted to create a cultural transformation programme. 

We sought help from internal partnerships.  Our first ally was Monash HR, who joined us, providing both expertise and insights into how to leverage current good practice, organisational development theory and successful models used elsewhere.  The consulting firm, SMS Management and Technology helped us with programme design and implementation, bringing external expertise to the table.  We created a small high-performing team to run the programme and developed new strategic relationships with classroom and eLearn training vendors with whom we are deriving excellent value.  In fact, we managed to completely reform the training offer with no increase in spend.  The most important partner was of course the staff of eSolutions, who have come along on a great ride with us. 

We created a single programmatic approach to our performance and professional development challenges.  We call it I Contribute.  As the name suggests, it is focussed on the individual and what they need to do to thrive at work and optimise their contribution to eSolutions and Monash.  It is based on the ideas that workplace motivation, or mojo, is greatly enhanced when you have a sense of purpose, are contributing to something larger than yourself, and growing your skills.

A key design principle for us was to use the very best of contemporary thinking.  We called on various sources for this: Monash’s foundation approach to performance and professional development, the CAUDIT Career Development Kit, the Skills for the Information Age (SFIA) framework, Daniel Pink’s work on organisational motivation, SMART goals, and the 70:20:10 methodology (developed by the Center for Creative Leadership) for thinking about skill acquisition. 

In particular, the CAUDIT Career Development Kit was very important to our programme.  We needed to help staff to see the value in growing their business-facing skills alongside their technical skills.  We used the Behavioural Competencies as a starting point for our Working Together Competency Framework, which is one of three pillars in the programme.  It is joined with our Functional Specialisation Competency Framework, which is based on SFIA, and a Working at Monash Framework, which lays out the knowledge needed to operate effectively in our environment and how to make best use of it.  We then established the principle that these three pillars should form the basis for all performance and development conversations (from the everyday to the twice yearly required formal planning and review conversations). 

I Contribute launched in late 2012 with a high-energy change campaign.  Staff and supervisors no longer saw performance planning as an onerous compliance exercise.  96% of our cohort submitted their performance plans, a figure we had never achieved previously.  We saw an instant change in the shape of development requests.  Staff began requesting development in business-facing skills and through various means (learning on the job and from others as well as formal training). 

Throughout 2013, we have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff about the new training experience.  In August, we were delighted to be awarded Skillsoft’s Program of the Year for Australia and New Zealand and to share the details of our approach at their annual Perspectives conference.  We now have the results of our first annual survey measuring staff engagement and the impact of I Contribute.  This instrument returned very positive staff engagement and job satisfaction ratings.  Importantly, 56% of respondents told us that I Contribute had helped them to improve their performance.  Supervisors had an even more positive view, with 65% stating that the programme had helped their staff to improve performance and 73% stating that it had helped them to be more effective supervisors. 

We established the programme with a view to see tangible impact over a three year horizon, so we are very pleased with the impact we are already seeing.  The programme is continually subject to review and improvement.  Our staff provided feedback in the survey about what we can do to make the programme more effective.  We will of course look to undertake a full refresh as the first three years draw to a close. 

Our most important key success factor is the staff of eSolutions who have taken up the programme to the benefit of themselves and the University.  Staff like Amanda, who has been very generous in sharing her development story with colleagues.  Amanda has grown exponentially over the last 12 months and tells a great yarn about feeling stuck for 12 years, finding the I Contribute toolkit and combining this with a change in mindset.  Amanda says,

I Contribute has helped me to identify personal barriers and take responsibility for my own development. Things are now changing for the better, and fast.

Amanda is right: she has enjoyed two promotions this year and is now thriving in a senior role. 

We made a lot of mistakes on our journey and we managed to get lots of things right too.  We are particularly proud of the I Contribute toolkit.  It will drive staff performance and development at eSolutions for the foreseeable future.

Anyone who would like to know more about this program and its development and implementation should contact Michelle King, Director, Office of CIO at Monash on Michelle.King@monash.edu

CAUDIT members can access a copy of the CAUDIT Career Development Kit here