Colleges and Universities that have a global presence and a network of multiple campuses worldwide have a unique set of challenges. These challenges are not unlike a business operating offices in several different locations. The concerns can range from “out of sight, out of mind” and reduced productivity to a cohesive team and consistent cultural/ team identity.
Drilling down deeper, the obstacles may become magnified for individual departments within the university, for example academic technology and AV. We’ve talked a lot about campus wide standards for classroom technology. Creating technology standards is a useful and helpful process on many levels. Standards reduce systems cost of maintenance and down-time, manages expectations of students and faculty, reduces training time and can even help save money on equipment. Here’s one challenge: How do you maintain those standards on different campuses, let alone different parts of the world?
For an upcoming article for SouthEast Education Network, I talked to the managers of technology departments within a couple of high profile universities that have a worldwide presence. They discuss how they navigate the obstacles of managing technology systems on remote campuses for long-term and connected consistency. Until that is released this fall, here are some ideas on how to deal with managing multiple campuses. This probably-not-all-inclusive list isn’t AV specific, but should provide insight on managing teams in other locations.
Qualified people know how to do their job. Hire qualified people. Then focus on frequent communication and support to maintain relationships, not on constant oversight and micro-managing projects. This is especially important during onboarding.
Create processes and best-practices that are consistent across all campuses. Whether this is a process for interviewing and evaluating outsourced labor, or a system to notify helpdesk of a problem try to keep processes as consistent as possible across campus so each campus is “on the same page” with regard to expectations, responsibilities and response times.
Understand the workforce culture (and laws) of your locations. It is super important not to expect that all countries have the same labor laws or HR requirements. An remember, your effective communication style in one country may not be accepted similarly in another.
Travel! If possible, visit the remote campuses during large projects like new building and significant building upgrades. Understanding how the construction process is handled in different countries is necessary to overseeing the project. And visiting the campus helps build and maintain trust with your onsite team.
Create a culture of fairness. Allow those who are in leadership positions on your other campuses have a part in the decision making process. Be open minded and approachable.
Until the full article comes out in the fall: do you have any recommendations regarding managing the technology teams on multiple campuses…whether national or world-wide?