Comments for ChangeSU Writing and Resources for Managers of Students' Unions Wed, 10 Oct 2018 06:54:56 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on Its lonely at the top by GRAHAM BRISCOE Wed, 10 Oct 2018 06:54:56 +0000 All CEO`s should have a mentor, somebody they can talk to about any issue they have. A” governance” best practice Trustee Board should have arranged this as part of any new CEO appointment – especially if the CEO role is their first one.Most Student Union CEOs report to the Trustee Board Chair – but may not wish to discuss this type of particular issue with them. Also in the corporate world most Chairs will have an awareness, in these situations, that all is not well with their CEO – but would a recently graduated SAB President have developed the necessary knowledge and skills to determine this. Finally the Independent Lay members on the Trustee Board should have a role here – developing a trust and understanding with the CEO in order to be around to give support should their CEO find themselves in the position described.

Comment on Our Sector: Who’s really pulling the strings? by Mike Thu, 03 May 2018 20:46:13 +0000 An interesting piece – sorry to be so late to commemt but would you be able to email the raw data from your research? Or post a link to it?

Comment on Opinion: Time to argue about consensus by Graham Atkinson Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:33:05 +0000 Thanks for this thought-provoking article Nick. I absolutely agree with the view that conflict is a really important part of effective decision-making. In team development training we talk about the need for diverse teams (Belbin etc) – on the basis that people from different backgrounds, and with different ideas, make better, more robust decisions.

I think part of the problem that people are trying to solve when they talk about consensus decision-making is that far too often conflict isn’t ‘done well’. We watch our elected leaders (global and UK) focus on points of difference in order to point score and create win-lose outcomes. Of course this has always happened, but it feels like over recent years politicians (and I include student politicians / leaders in this) have lost the ability to build bridges, engage people with different political viewpoints and create win-win outcomes through collaboration and compromise.

If you take Stella Creasy’s brilliant work around free abortions for women from Northern Ireland, one of the things that made this stand out was that you just don’t see many public examples of our leaders collaborating across the political aisle to create change. I think students’ unions have a role in helping student leaders develop and apply those skills – and perhaps we should be focusing on collaborative, not consensus, decision-making?

Comment on Opinion: Time to argue about consensus by Graham Atkinson Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:06:26 +0000 Good and thought provoking article – thanks Nick. We know that conflict is an important part of good decision-making. When we do team development training we focus on diversity of teams on the basis that different backgrounds and different ideas help strengthen and test key decisions. So I think you’re absolutely right that healthy conflict, debate and disagreement are all really import for good decision-making and therefore good governance and democracy.

I think part of the problem that people are often trying to solve when they talk about consensus decision-making is that far too often conflict and decision-making aren’t ‘done well’. We see politicians (UK and global) point scoring, focusing on personality not issues and emphasising points of difference to create win-lose situations. Some of this isn’t new but it does feel as though there’s been a decline in collaborative (not consensus) decision-making over the past few years where people try to create win-win situations.

If you take the brilliant bipartisan work that Stella Creasy did on free abortions for women in Northern Ireland. Part of the reason this stood out is because she engaged politicians from both sides of the floor around an important issue to create change – and that seems to practically hardly ever happen. Politicians (and I include student politicians / leaders in this) need to re-learn / remember how to talk to people that hold different opinions, identify points of commonality and compromise to create change. I agree that we shouldn’t be obsessed with consensus decisions, and perhaps need to focus more on collaborative approaches, whilst accepting that healthy conflict still creates more robust outcomes?

Comment on Opinion: Time to argue about consensus by Mike Heffron Thu, 17 Aug 2017 06:54:55 +0000 Thank, Nick. Couldn’t agree more. Forwarding to officers.

Comment on Our Sector: Should (could) Students’ Unions’ run Academic Modules? by Ricky Chotai Tue, 08 Aug 2017 14:51:33 +0000 A really interesting read, thanks for sharing.

Comment on Research: What is big data on staff engagement telling us? by Andy Morwood Wed, 26 Jul 2017 12:51:37 +0000 I’d be keen to see this data split up between student staff and non-student staff for everything, not just engagement.

Comment on Opinion: Election Turnout is up- but is credibility down? by Matt Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:28:16 +0000 I was always very sceptical about incentivising voters but we have seen huge success in this. We have seen a steady rise in voter turnout over a number of years with last year’s turnout of 26% with no incentive being our best ever. This year with an incentive we reached a 12.1% rise to 38.1% but this is also with a 20% more candidates. We also saw voters voting for the same number of positions as in previous years suggesting that an incentive brings voters to the ballot station but does not bring down quality of votes.

15 years of seeing candidates bribe voters with the best cakes, sweets and biscuits have not gone unnoticed. Candidates often spent hours buying or making these rather than talking to the membership – which did not happen this year.

I would rather see the incentive as a thank you for voting and not a bribe. In terms of being a collective force for students, this helps students and will ensure our members feel we value them.

I don’t think there has to be a set way of doing anything and this is another example. Find your way of engaging your members and if that”’s different so be it…. We shouldn’t be in the game of shunning or knocking innovation and different ways of engaging. Particularly in these challenging times within SUs and HEIs we need to prove our worth and in impactful and fun ways.

Do your thing but I wouldn’t be dictating to other Union’s how to engage their audiences…..

Comment on Opinion: Election Turnout is up- but is credibility down? by Mark McCormack Mon, 27 Mar 2017 16:52:51 +0000 What a great piece to get us thinking about elections and credibility!

Our SU realised record turnout this year without any incentives; at the same time we managed to get 12% voting for our constitution, and this follows successive referendums over the past year reaching up to 6,000 members. So perhaps its a bit early to put the ball in the court of incentives.

Readers should focus on the key question asked here: do incentives harm the SU’s credibility? I was impressed by the incentives I saw at other unions this year; and if the SU is not seen as credible then I can’t see students voting anyway. Yet it’s an important consideration for SU comms that we get the message right, and surely our members will form ideas about the SU based upon what they hear from their SU (or moreso for some, as told by student press!).

In that sense, gimmicks might help shape the extent to which SU’s are seen to have a sense of humour, or for example, that SU’s can well-balance political character with fund; yet equally incentives or gimmicks might also contribute to the SU being seen as a body a student need only engage with once for a short-lived, consumerist purpose, or for example, being too aligned with commercial interests.

I’d rationalise that it really depends on the student body and whether these efforts relate to a wider strategy or aim, and obviously, whether its done well!

Comment on Opinion: Election Turnout is up- but is credibility down? by Kate Fri, 24 Mar 2017 12:24:59 +0000 As long as people are out voting, does it really matter? Also, this might be someone’s moment to realise what their SU is doing for them; we might get more engagement because students see that we want them involved and are willing to incentivise that.

It’s the excitement, enjoyment and celebratory feel around campus that’s what is important during elections and we should do whatever we can to contribute to that feeling.

Somewhere along the way we need to remember that whilst it’s great to be noble and for our departments to feel socially important, at the end of the day we are here for students – not to feel like our departments are important, or to improve society; those are amazing by products of what we do, but fundamentally we exist to listen to students and try to give them what they want.

Students perhaps should vote just because it’s the right thing to do, but they don’t. So I am going to keep doing everything I can to make sure that elections and voting is a positive and fun experience for all involved.

One way we might be irrelevant to them is because we are seen as “fun sponges” that take the fun out of everything and maybe, just maybe, this article is contributing to that notion?

Elections should be fun. End of.