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Strengthening our culture

Celebrating Strengthening our Culture 23 November 2016

By Marnie Kennedy 13 December 2016 News No Comments »

On 23rd November, we held a final celebration Culture slidefor the Strengthening our Culture program with the whole team. Attendees heard about the initiatives and activities that had been undertaken and led as part of the Strengthening our Culture Program which ends as planned in December. All speakers acknowledged the excellent work that has been delivered under the Living our Values Initiative and Strengthening our Culture Program and noted that the work will continue into the future as part of Curtin’s 2017-2020 strategy.

Next steps for 2017
John Cordery, Provost and Sponsor of Curtin’s People and Culture Plan, rThe culture journey slideeflected on the significant signs of cultural growth across Curtin, including the White Ribbon initiative and the high application and success rates for promotions of female academics.
The key areas for focus and development as part of the 2017-20 plan for Curtin’s People and Culture are:
• Empower staff to lead by values
• Global, collaborative and connected workforce
• Innovate, lead and strive for excellence
• Strengthen values based leadership
• Improving gender and Indigenous equity.
To progress these goals, expressions of interest will be opened in January. Those who are keen to support the work and activities in these areas are encouraged to apply. Individuals who had been involved in Strengthening our Culture may wish to continue providing their support and nominations and suggestions from all staff would be welcomed as Curtin continues to focus on embedding its focus on its people and its culture.
The presentation
The full presentation is available here. A summary of the event is available here.

Meet another Suggestion Box Superstar!

By Marnie Kennedy 6 December 2016 News No Comments »

Second Suggestion Box SuperstarRecently, Richard Addiscott, Director IT Planning, Governance and Security, became our newest Suggestion Box superstar!
A number of suggestions received in the Suggestion Box relate to our IT Services and can be complex. Richard has volunteered to lead the exploration of a number of suggestions which have crossed different areas within CITS and brought together a combined response. Richard always offers a comprehensive consideration of suggestions including consulting with the suggester, preparing pro’s and con’s and presenting ideas for other ways of approaching the issue and the proposed solution.

Thank you Richard for your demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement!

Improving communications

By Marnie Kennedy 28 October 2016 Collaboration Communication HR News Suggestion Box No Comments »

Suggestion #176 was submitted by a staff member who had recently been awarded a continuing contract after being fixed term. When they received their first pay slip they were surprised to discover changes had been made to their super contributions. The suggestion was to review the communications surrounding the transition of staff from fixed term to ongoing contracts, using their experience as a learning opportunity for the HR team responsible for communicating these changes to staff.

Travis Moore, one of our resident Suggestion Box superstars and the area specialist, said his initial thoughts were of surprise, as he felt the information was communicated already. However, after reviewing and meeting with the suggester he agreed that the communications that did exist weren’t clear.

The suggestion has resulted in improved communication to staff regarding the increased superannuation contribution automatically applied to salary when moving from a fixed-term to continuing contract. Travis also asked the suggester to remain a contact to consult for any future changes. A great outcome for all, and within two weeks of the suggestion being made!

Meet a Suggestion Box Superstar!

By Marnie Kennedy 5 August 2016 News No Comments »

First SB supastar_TMoore_05072016Travis Moore, Deputy Director, People Services, is one of our Suggestion Box Superstars. The team recently held a very impromptu ceremony to recognise his efforts with Michael Berndt presenting the inaugural Suggestion Box Superstar coffee voucher.

The Suggestion Box has been up and running since October 2015 and since then we have been directing suggestions to areas right across Curtin. Some areas, understandably, receive a few more suggestions than others and this has led to some Curtin community members being regarded as honorary Suggestion Box team members, or, as we like to call them, Suggestion Box Superstars!

Key staff members from Properties, Facilities & Development, Human Resources and from CITS have all made an enormous contribution to changing the culture at Curtin by responding to all suggestions respectfully through actively listening to the suggester and working with them on a resolution.

To all of the superstars, thank you!

Culture eats strategy for breakfast and risk for lunch

By Marnie Kennedy 8 July 2016 News organisational culture Suggestion Box No Comments »

TheSuggestion Box following is a guest post from Michelle Griffiths, Director, Risk Management, a member of the Systems Change Working Group, and a key Suggestion Box advocate…

I suppose my passion for the Suggestion Box is derived from my work experience over the last 35 years as I have seen first-hand how culture can benefit people and organisations.

Having worked for many years in consumer protection, I saw good and bad practice in action when listening to customers and responding to feedback and this often reflected the culture of the organisation as a whole. For example, the organisation I worked with before coming to Curtin used values and behaviours to change from being a process centric culture to a member centric culture and, as a result, performance improvements in the organisation transformed it into an award winning, top quartile performer nationally.

In my current role, I also know that risk frameworks are ineffective without an organisational culture that supports informed risk taking, as the saying goes culture eats strategy for breakfast and risk for lunch. The Suggestion Box represents a culture of continuous improvement and of quality processes, which are both critical in supporting this.

A central feature of the work of the Suggestion Box is the ability to listen to clients and not become defensive about suggestions. This requires courage and also the ability to suspend your own world view and look at the world through someone else’s eyes. What are they seeing and experiencing that could inform and improve what you do?

All areas should, if a suggestion comes their way, use it is an opportunity to take the time to talk to a customer and listen and genuinely seek to understand the issues and see what is possible. It’s a great way to identify opportunities that you or your team might not have ordinarily picked up.

Bypass the quagmire!

By Marnie Kennedy 22 June 2016 Collaboration organisational culture Suggestion Box No Comments »

Suggestion Box

We’re sharing a series of posts about the Suggestion Box and the team that work hard in the background bringing suggestions to life over the next few weeks. Read on for more in our second instalment.

Michael Berndt and his colleagues on the Systems Change Working Group believe the Suggestion Box is a powerful tool central to enabling real systems change across Curtin.

The purpose of the Systems Change Working Group is to review processes and systems to ensure they signal Curtin’s values and signature behaviours and to respond to suggestions relating to the improvement of processes and systems. Michael, Chair of the Working Group, sees the Suggestion Box as a direct link between individual staff members and decision makers. He says staff are being impacted by practices, systems or processes in ways those in decision-making roles might not normally get an insight into. The Suggestion Box connects the two by providing decision makers with insight into the actual experiences of staff.

As Michael says:

The Suggestion Box is the most effective way of bypassing the quagmire of a bureaucracy…because we have an efficient way of looking at it, an individual member of staff can have an idea which will result in an outcome….it’s a nice way of implementing change….

Because we work in a very complex and large organisation, Michael also suggests that sometimes work practices become entrenched and are performed in a certain way because “that’s the way they’ve always been done”, which might not necessarily be the best way to do things. Staff can use the Suggestion Box to point these types of issues out. For example, earlier in the year a casual staff member pointed out, via the Suggestion Box, that it might be better to simply email timesheet submission requirements around the end of year shut down period to casual staff directly rather than relying on business managers forwarding the information or posting it on the HR website. HR staff were happy to accommodate.

If you have a suggestion for improving the culture and working environment at Curtin please let us know by visiting the Suggestion Box.

For more information email, or call Casey Ball on ext. 4735.

What is the Suggestion Box?

By Marnie Kennedy 10 June 2016 News organisational culture Suggestion Box No Comments »

We’re sharing a series of posts about the Suggestion Box and the team that work hard in the background bringing suggestions to life over the next few weeks, read on for more in our first instalment.

The Suggestion Box is a Strengthening our Culture initiative with a team that includes Casey Ball (initiative lead) and Karen Metcalf, Executive Officers of the Systems Change and Staff Engagement Working Groups respectively. Systems Change Working Group members consider every suggestion, while Staff Engagement Working Group members are often involved as area specialists. Culture Representatives, the team that ensures a connection between Strengthening our Culture and the wider Curtin community, are Suggestion Box advocates. Culture Representatives encourage their colleagues to use the Suggestion Box to address issues within their area or that impact the entire Curtin community (See all members of the Strengthening our Culture working Groups here and members of the Culture Representatives group here.)

Michael Berndt, PVC Health Sciences and Chair of the Systems Change Working Group and Michelle Griffiths, Director, Risk Management, are key advocates of the Suggestion Box and are dedicated to ensuring all suggestions receive an appropriate response. This advocacy work may include discussing the suggestion with area specialists or bringing issues to the attention of leadership groups or project teams they are involved with. Nuances around academic areas are Michael’s speciality, while Michelle assists with professional areas.

Inside knowledge of where a suggestion can go is invaluable to the team and they are quickly building this knowledge base, working closely with their colleagues on the Systems Change Working Group.

With multiple ‘live’ suggestions on the go at any one moment, there may be up to 30 Curtin staff members working to bring to life the suggestions for improvement that have been provided. For example, currently there are 17 ‘live’ suggestions that involve area specialists from the following areas:

  • Properties
  • Timetabling and Scheduling
  • Human Resources
  • Student Services
  • CITS
  • Ethics, Equity and Social Justice (EESJ)
  • Health, Safety and Emergency Management (HSEM)
  • The Office of Research and Development (ORD).

Each suggestion is fully explored, as Michael says, We don’t drop it until this is done! In some instances, the suggester goes on to be involved in the ongoing development of the solution after the suggestion itself has technically been closed.

If you have a suggestion for improving the culture and working environment at Curtin please let us know by visiting the Suggestion Box.

For more information email, or call Casey Ball on ext. 4735.

Different coloured glasses: Secondment as a tool to strengthen culture

By Marnie Kennedy 27 May 2016 Collaboration News Professional Development No Comments »

The following is a guest post from Penny Moss, a member of the Staff Engagement Working Group and an academic in the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science.

So, having worked for 12 or so years in one school as a teaching and research academic, I have recently been seconded to a part-time Faculty role. Up to this point, I had thought of myself as someone who was relatively flexible in my thinking and approach to all aspects of my work and had been involved in a number of inter-disciplinary projects over the years. However, this new Faculty role has made me realise how, without realising it, one develops “School-coloured” glasses.

It’s not always comfortable
You only realise this once you step outside your specific area and start having to view the work world from a broader perspective. I think that this is particularly pertinent for me as I come from a specific health professional background and my School is filled with very similar-minded individuals, from the same clinical background. It is not until you step outside of that environment that you realise how easy it is working with people from your own profession. Working across professions and disciplines requires you to become more open to other attitudes, communication styles and ways of thinking and consequently to become more flexible in your own attitudes, communication and thinking. This is not always comfortable, indeed can be quite exhausting at times, because it forces you to be open to change.
For example, I have been involved over the years in setting up casual contracts for research or teaching staff in the School and have found the process irritating and slow. I am now in a position to see the perspective of those in HR who are responsible for setting up those contracts and can see some of the issues they are faced with that impact on the final completion of a contract. Knowing this may not make the processes any quicker but my frustration is now likely to be targeted at the system rather than individuals.

Different approaches to teaching and learning
It is certainly true for me that being involved in a role outside my own school has made me feel more engaged in Curtin as a whole, rather than just engaged as a member of a single School. Equally the secondment to Faculty has forced me to broaden my academic perspective in the sense of having to work in collaboration with colleagues from disciplines that are not just clinically focussed and so have a subtly different approach to teaching and learning. This doesn’t necessarily mean that my approach will change radically, but it does set in a broader educational context the assumptions you may have (unconsciously) made about the best approach to learning. If nothing else, it offers you the opportunity to question and review your educational approach with different coloured glasses. This has to be a positive thing both for my own professional development but also for students whom I continue to teach.
No one intends to become rigid or stale in their approach but inevitably life happens and neural pathways are set without you even realising it! Having the opportunity to work outside my specific area in a broader context has been a really positive experience. I actually wonder whether it might be something Curtin could develop into a scheme that could be offered to all staff (academic and professional) to facilitate more flexible approaches and engagement?

What’s been happening in the Strengthening our Culture Suggestion Box?

By Marnie Kennedy 18 May 2016 News Suggestion Box No Comments »

While we are sharing stories on Curtin Weekly once a month there is a lot more happening in the Suggestion Box than we can possibly share there, so we thought we’d share some more highlights here at the Strengthening our Culture blog.
Timesheet submission dates communicated via direct email
Casual staff members will now receive a direct email informing them of submission dates for timesheets during closedown periods (e.g. Christmas).
The suggestion to directly notify all casual staff of closedown dates was made not long after the end of year shut down and was welcomed by HR. One of those suggestions where we all went, ‘Well why didn’t we think of that!?’ Previously, dates were communicated online and via email to School Business Managers to circulate. Now casual staff will receive a direct email that lets them know when to submit their time sheets, at times a confusing task, especially if you are a relative new comer to Curtin!
Better ways of working together
A suggestion on ‘Better communication, consultation and improving methods of working together in more culturally appropriate ways’ highlighted the need for improved communication on existing strategies and initiatives that have been developed to meet these objectives.
Feedback from the suggester on the outcome included a positive experience with the Senior Executive staff member attending a meeting in their area, sharing information on current related initiatives and facilitating an open discussion. There will be another meeting in that area later in the year.

If you have a suggestion for improving the culture and working environment at Curtin please let us know by visiting the Suggestion Box.

For more information email, or call Casey Ball on ext. 4735.

Coleman’s six components of culture

By Marnie Kennedy 16 February 2016 organisational culture No Comments »

When we talk about culture at Curtin what do we really mean? What are the components of a good organisational culture and what do they look like here at Curtin? When speaking about Curtin’s culture, the Vice-Chancellor refers to the six components of culture described by Coleman.
Vision – a clear sense of purpose
Values – a clearly articulated set of values needed to achieve the vision
Practices – ‘lived’ experience aligns with values
People – shared sense of purpose and values
Narrative – telling and shaping the organisation’s unique story is core to strengthening culture
Place – ‘whether geography, architecture, or aesthetic design — impacts the values and behaviours of people in a workplace’
I’ve attached links to Curtin’s Vision and Curtin’s Values but for the remaining components of culture there’s a little more too it.

Ideally Curtin’s vision and values will be reflected in all of our practices, shared by all of our people, included in all of the stories we tell others about Curtin, and enhanced and supported by our vibrant campus. Here’s the challenge – what are some examples of how our vision and values are reflected in these components of culture? Please share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you!



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