In 2018, over 50 colleges appointed new Principals or CEOs - an unprecedented turnover of
In the recent weeks we have witnessed change like no-one has seen before and in our interview with Andrew Kaye, Fareham College Principal and Chief Executive and Senior Leadership Development Programme Alumni, we explored his approach to the crisis and his leadership style.
‘It’s been a roller-coaster. Never in my career did I imagine this happening and having to close the college campuses to the majority of students.’
As a Principal / Chief Executive the situation puts you in a place of leadership at the highest degree with all of your stakeholders looking to you for answers. But as Andrew explains there is no single right answer to the approach. For him the network he has established and has access to have been so important. At the end of the day everyone wants to achieve the right outcome for their students and to support each other to do this.
At the start he was dealing with vast quantities of information. There was so much change and having to navigate this has been hard for the team. In the initial stages of the crisis Andrew established a Fareham version of Cobra, to review the immediate tasks and to allocate different remits to his senior team, which worked well for the team.
Andrew identified regular and clear communication as critical to reassuring all staff in such an unsettling period. Initially this was daily and he has since been communicating via weekly updates that are sent to the whole college. Teams have been able to meet virtually, which has helped cross college communications. But we all acknowledged that virtual meetings do have limitations.
‘We are not working from home, we are at home in a pandemic, trying to work.’
In addition, Andrew reflected on the importance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. People need time to reflect on their own world and the impact this crisis has had on them. The strategy of the business needs to be built around the staff and their circumstances. Empathy has been key and the communications to stakeholders has been integral to his approach.
Having been on leadership courses, including the AoC Senior Leadership Development Programme, taught Andrew some key leadership theories and he has put them into practice in his college. During the pandemic he has drawn on some key frameworks, including the colour works programme, which identifies people’s preferred personality and leadership styles. The four colour energies help you to better understand yourself and your colleagues and how they will react to the current complex situation:
- Yellow: Engaging, enthusiastic, demonstrative, positive, sociable and persuasive
- Blue: Cautious, precise, deliberate, questioning, organised, formal
- Red: Competitive, demanding, purposeful, strong-willed, purposeful
- Green: Caring, encouraging, sharing, patient, relaxed
Andrew described his senior team as having a good mix between them of the colours (styles) and that has been helpful, allowing him to play to individuals’ strengths
Andrew is keeping a focus on the bigger picture. He has had to rewrite the college’s strategy with a revised 5 year vision and 2 year plan. This looks at how they will recover over the next 2 years and also aligns with where they want to be in 5 years’ time. They know that they will have greater emphasis on their digital infrastructure and will be taking time to ensure their curriculum model is sustainable. The college has also looked at the impact on the national labour market and have started to map out their curriculum against LMI projections.
The college has taken the time to look at the possibilities coming out of the crisis, not just the limitations and involved cross college learning communities and groups to develop ideas.
As a consequence of the crisis the college will be investing and developing increased resources in health and wellbeing and student support services. This will help both new students starting at the college in September and also existing students. They have also been working to improve their HR practices and improve flexibility. This crisis has accelerated the development of new policies and approaches to this.
Reflecting back Andrew explains that it was the right thing to do to bring things in incrementally to allow for a bit of time for adjustment.
‘The sector as a whole should be proud of what it has achieved.’