Establish effective processes

How to get your systems and processes working better to support public engagement.

As important as strong leadership and clear purpose are really effective processes to underpin your support for engagement – the engine room, if you like, that makes everything ‘work’. There are three key focal points to attend to.

Support

Good quality and purposeful public engagement doesn’t just happen – it needs support.  In the Public Engagement Professionals  area of the site we explore the vital role of professional staff in delivering this support, and the key functions they need to manage.  As well as having the right people with the right skills, you also need to think through how best to ‘site’ these staff: in a central unit? Or dispersed through the organisation, for instance?  The NCCPE can help you with these decisions:

Learning

The NCCPE is committed to encouraging the highest quality public engagement – and so we are keen to see lots of opportunities for high quality professional development being made available.  But many staff are reluctant to sign up for yet more courses – so how can you build a culture where people are keen to learn and given lots of opportunities to develop their skills? And what are the skills and knowledge that people need to plan and deliver excellent engagement?  The better grip you have on these questions, the better able you will be to support engagement.

Recognition

A consistent complaint from university staff is that their public engagement activity isn’t recognised or valued.  This is changing in many universities, with new career pathways being created which recognise the contribution of public engagement, and investment in a variety of more informal mechanism to demonstrate how this work is valued. 

  • Our mini EDGE tool for ‘recognition’ helps you address this area systematically
  • Our guide to ‘Running a competition’ provides hints and tips about how to design and run a competition – a great way to signal how engagement is valued and to encourage higher quality work
  • The Open University launched new promotions criteria for staff in 2015, which includes a knowledge exchange pathway alongside pathways for teaching and research.  Public engagement is explicitly recognised in all of the pathways.  The project took place during the OU’s RCUK-funded Catalyst for Public Engagement project, and is outlined on p.16 of their final report.

How we can help

The NCCPE is here to help you on your journey to embed support for public engagement.  We have a host of other resources that can help, built on the experiences of our partners working at the ‘coal face’, developing approaches that are tried and tested.  We are keen to talk to you about what your plans are, where you’re stuck and where we might be able to help.  Do please contact us if you would like to arrange a conversation.