Empowering educators professionally

Many educational institutions compete fiercely in the student recruitment process. However, not many institutions appreciate that having the best quality in teaching and research makes the process easier.
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 02:28 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 02:28 IST

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Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.

- Angela Ahrendts

We all know that staff development is important for any organisation, but the academic world still lags in understanding it. Very few institutions support the faculty in terms of continuous professional development. The education sector needs attention, as many institutions fail to care for their faculty. They do not provide them with adequate support for professional growth and development. The quality of faculty members is a matter of concern due to unstructured pay packages and monetary benefits.

Many educational institutions compete fiercely in the student recruitment process. However, not many institutions appreciate that having the best quality in teaching and research makes the process easier. Quality in infrastructure, research, teaching-learning process, and overall student development is requisite for an educational institution. Above all, recruiting qualified and experienced faculty members who can build the institution with their knowledge and research is important. Only those institutions that hire quality faculty and invest in their growth thrive and excel.

Hiring and retaining top talent is a herculean task. The quality of the institution depends only on investment in educators’ careers. This investment should be in monetary benefits and facilities to enhance faculty members’ knowledge and skill sets. Nurturing faculty members can stimulate a culture of continuous learning, innovation, and excellence.

What is faculty development?

It is a strategic process academic institutions should practice to help educators enhance their skills, knowledge, and experiences and excel. This holistic approach should be achieved through mentoring, coaching, training, and creating opportunities for progression within and outside the institution. After gauging their strengths and weaknesses, a personalised career development plan should be devised for the educators.

Aligning their career goals with training programs, workshops, and research opportunities represents a mutual commitment between academic institutions and educators. This benefits educators and the institutions. Impactful development plans foster healthy relationships at the workplace, and educators excel with confidence and job satisfaction.  

Educators get a sense of direction. They maintain their engagement and commitment to their job by defining and completing career goals. Moreover, career growth lessens the anxiety of stagnation by improving work stability. When institutions invest in developing the teaching staff, they make them proficient and efficient. This also helps the faculty members serve the organisation longer and lowers turnover and related expenses due to rehiring. Top talent would prefer to join the institutions that encourage them to grow and thereby enhance the loyalty and morale of the educators.

Supporting faculty development

Encourage self-appraisals: Educators must be encouraged to evaluate and understand their strengths by assessing their skills. This process helps them understand their unused strengths and utilize their abilities and skills efficiently, aligning with the tasks assigned. This aids in identifying and addressing areas of improvement.

Training and development: The academic world is becoming extremely competitive. Institutions should support and encourage their teaching staff to stay updated by offering training programs, professional development workshops and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations to expand their skills. Staff retention is easier when they know the institution cares to groom them.  

Mentoring and training by existing staff: Experienced existing staff should act as mentors and guide the new faculty members. Their insights will infuse a positive academic culture in the new staff. This also gives a sense of importance to the existing staff. 

Training for leadership roles: Identifying staff members with leadership qualities and grooming them for higher positions will create internal growth opportunities and reassure commitment and loyalty. By training existing staff with leadership qualities, they can be considered for positions like heads, deans, directors, principals, vice-chancellors, and several others.

Encourage unique talent: Spot uniqueness and celebrate exceptional talent. Encouraging educators to leverage these strengths can boost their confidence and promote creativity on campus.

Monetary rewards: Institutions should offer monetary compensation. A structured pay scale, performance appraisals, and timely increments might increase employees’ motivation and sense of job satisfaction and contentment. Management should provide research grants, performance bonuses, merit-based pay increases, and other monetary incentives.

HR policies and procedures: Many institutions do not have healthy policies and procedures for retaining staff. Rigid and primitive systems and processes hinder the growth of the teaching staff and the institution. Hustle culture prevails in many institutions, and a lack of work-life balance hurts the productivity of the staff members.

Through these approaches, academic institutions can cultivate a motivated, skilled, and loyal teaching staff by supporting faculty career growth and development.

(The author is a director of an engineering college based in Bengaluru)

Published 28 May 2024, 02:28 IST

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