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Performance development in action: connecting staff and university goals
As SFU’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Brian Stewart builds connections between the university’s mission, vision and institutional priorities and the extensive work of IT Services (ITS).
Leading a team of more than 200 staff across six units, Stewart cultivates a strong service culture and ensures secure, efficient and innovative IT services to meet the needs of the SFU community. This includes work on educational technology, research computing, academic management systems, digital transformation and infrastructure, client services and more. As part of the Finance and Administration portfolio, ITS is one crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to meeting the university’s operational, academic and administrative needs.
But what do those broader institutional and portfolio priorities mean for annual performance development planning? For Stewart, being able to bridge the bigger picture with the work his teams are doing is essential. When sitting down to develop his own goals for the year, he is guided by those of Martin Pochurko, SFU’s vice-president of finance and administration (VPFA).
“It’s really an iterative process. The goals that Martin has for VPFA come from President Joy Johnson’s goals for the university as a whole. His commitments cascade down to me and I apply them, with ongoing input from my team, when creating goals for my own role.”
In March of 2023, SFU’s senior leadership team approved a cycle adjustment for the Performance and Development (PD) program to better align with the academic year (September 1-August 31) and provide more time for planning after the President and Executive team’s performance goals are set.
Additionally, new templates for excluded employees and APSA, CUPE and Poly Party employees have been developed to align with institutional goals. These templates provide prompts to help staff and their teams align with the goals of their portfolio leaders.
For ITS, one of the key initiatives that has shaped the PDP process has been improving Wi-Fi and connectivity at SFU. Both Stewart and Jeff Vogstad, director of infrastructure services, have included it as part of their annual performance development planning.
Vogstad oversees four teams totaling 45 staff who support IT infrastructure, network operations and engineering, and phone services at SFU. When he joined the university in October of 2022, improving the Wi-Fi on Burnaby campus was top of mind. Within a few months, ITS successfully tackled key issues with Wi-Fi by upgrading software and firmware and addressing security issues that were hampering Zoom performance.
Emphasizing that their work goes well beyond Wi-Fi to include cellular and network coverage, Vogstad notes that consistent and reliable service is foundational for providing a strong educational experience among the entire SFU community.
“It's really about all-round connectivity for the university, whether that's students, faculty, or staff. Everybody needs to be connected in order to do their studies, work and research.”
As part of the PDP process, both Stewart and Vogstad have had ongoing discussions with ITS staff about connecting their goals and work to broader university strategies, including the four priorities outlined in What’s Next.
“The one that especially resonates for all of us in ITS is Transform the SFU Experience, which includes optimizing processes, technology and facilities to support people. We can very easily see how we play a part in that across all three campuses, and there’s good alignment with the other priorities as well,” said Vogstad.
This year will mark the first time non-managerial staff in ITS will be completing a PDP in this format, and Vogstad notes they plan to provide as much support as possible to ensure it is successful and consistent for everyone.
For more information about the Performance Development Process for the upcoming year, please connect with your direct supervisor. People leaders can also connect with their strategic business partner from the People and Organization Development team. Read more about performance development on the People, Equity and Inclusion website.