University College London Educational Psychology Group Wednesday 9

University College London
Educational Psychology Group
Motivation and empowerment during organisational change
Wednesday 9th September 2009
Report on group discussions during the Leading Edge Day
The aim of this conference was to support psychologists who are working in
and with education and children's services during a period of major change
and upheaval. During the morning we heard presentations from a leading
researcher and a leading education consultant on processes of organisational
change. In the afternoon, in response to those presentations and the
questions and discussions that had been stimulated by them, three
colleagues who held senior management posts in contrasting educational
psychology services outlined recent and current changes in their service and
in its local context. They commented on what they saw as the key resonances
and implications for educational psychology services from the morning
presentations and from recent research in this field. Conference participants
then formed small groups to formulate a short list of actions and processes
that can prepare for and underpin positive motivation and empowerment
during a period of major organisational and structural change. This report
summarises key points that emerged from those group discussions. Note that
many of the items in this list were mentioned by more than one group.
What can prepare for and underpin positive motivation and
empowerment during major organisational and structural change?
The wider organisation
1. Keeping in mind key processes that were highlighted repeatedly in group
responses - preparation, transparency, consultation and communication.
2. Ensuring that both the planned outcomes and the process of change are
informed by explicit principles, vision and goals (including inclusion).
3. Developing a clear vision of the core purpose and how that translates into
4. Maintaining that vision as a reference point throughout the process of
5. Having a clear and valid rationale for any change and evidence that
indicates it will be effective.
6. Recognising that structural change on its own may be of little use.
7. Ensuring that new structures and new modes of activity are sustainable
over time and in changing circumstances.
8. Following ethical guidelines and ensuring that changes are value-driven.
9. Accepting that if something is working well there is no need to change it.
10. Communicating the rationale effectively to those who will be affected.
11. Consulting in a way that is meaningful, i.e. can be seen as having the
possibility of affecting the outcome - emphasised by a number of groups.
12. Providing opportunities for those affected to take part in developing the
overall picture so that sharing the vision is not experienced as a simple
imposition over which individuals outside the leadership have no influence.
13. Being honest during consultation about the capacity to revise plans that
are not open to alteration.
14. Aiming for empowerment but not assuming that that will always be
welcomed or will universally be appropriate.
15. Acknowledging feelings (as well as thoughts) about change.
16. Recognising the link between uncertainty and insecurity and maximising
individual control.
17. Acknowledging that change hurts but that this can be nurtured and
harnessed to make the process and the outcome positive.
18. Providing effective leadership and management with clear roles for
individuals in the hierarchy and with leadership by example.
19. Building trust in the leadership through openness and honesty.
20. Developing trust in current professional relationships which has the
potential to inspire trust in future structures and is an important element in
building relationships.
21. Recognising the value to managers and leaders of evidence that
challenges or confirms their ideas.
22. Developing strategies for managing external pressures from financial
constraints and new views about what the public sector can provide.
23. Recognising that change is likely to be continuous and developing
strategies for developing and maintaining motivation in that context.
24. Developing a sociocultural analysis of an activity system (Activity Theory)
so as to explore perceptions and perspectives across the organisation,
explore and share contradictions, share experiences, learning from and
integrating operational and strategic perspectives and drawing on other
supportive tools to agree goals and resources, including PATH (Pearpoint,
O’Brien and Forest, 1992) - a whole organisation exploration of vision/core
values and collaborative planning. (These tools have been used by one
EPS with great success over a period of time.)
An Educational Psychology Service
1. Establishing a secure professional identity that is then critical in enabling
an effective contribution in interagency/integrated local delivery teams.
2. Maintaining roots in that professional identity with access to meetings,
professional development, etc.
3. Presenting the team as ready for change and not simply resistant.
4. Being proactive as a Service team and “seizing” the change.
5. Attempting to use imposed change as an opportunity to effect desired
changes more proactively.
6. Creating working alliances and positioning the team carefully so as to have
a voice in changes from “inside the tent”.
7. Offering psychology skills to facilitate effective consultation.
8. Identifying what is distinctive in what the Service can provide, including
both visible and invisible aspects of its activities.
9. Finding ways of making psychologists’ skills visible and explicit in a multiagency context.
10. Ensuring that the EPs’ contribution is valued at the time of proposed
change so that what is good (i.e. delivers positives outcomes for children
and young people, etc) is retained and supported, and new initiatives can
be embraced from a position of valuing what was, what is and what can
11. Ensuring that EPs have a role in universal services in early intervention
and prevention.
12. Ensuring that EPs have a role at all levels of services for children.
13. In areas where schools have effective control over access to EPs
consulting with them to ensure that psychologists are available to help
those who need their services most.
14. Collecting research evidence/data to inform practice, e.g. identifying where
psychologists make an impact and measuring this.
15. Considering as a profession the contribution that doctoral training could
make, in particular through opportunities for learning about the evidence
base and how to enhance it.*
16. Recognising that what action individuals can take will depend on what role
they have in the organisation.
17. Balancing self interest and the greater good of the community.
This group added a question:
Could there be a CPD Doctorate for those interested in leadership in
EPSs, along the lines of the head teachers’ NPQH?