Establishing a Joint Appointment
Critical Success Factors
5. Administrative and logistical support
How the joint appointment will be resourced needs to be clear from the outset. Funding may come from an external source, or may be jointly provided by the partner organisations. The contributions provided by different partners to the arrangement need not always be equal. They do, however, need to be agreed in advance. For example, will posts be graded and evaluated across both organisations? Funding arrangements should take into account responsibility for salary, overheads, computer hardware, travelling expenses, training and development needs, hospitality, small project/initiative costs and other costs relevant to the specific post.
The level of funding required for the post needs to be established. Often partners conceptualise joint appointments with senior responsibilities, yet the funding available will only attract middle-management level candidates. This detail can be overlooked.
'Once I was appointed, it seemed as though all the partners had really agreed was the respective funding responsibilities for my salary. Resolving funding is an important pre-requisite but it only lays the foundation for more comprehensive planning.'
Critical Success Factor 4: Recruitment
Partner organisations should draw on the standard recruitment processes already in place in their organisations. It is important to ensure that the post is evaluated and graded across both organisations and approved by the relevant Boards or Committees.
The OPM research showed that standard practice was not always followed in recruiting to a joint appointment, which may be evidence of the way that the joint appointment process can become detached from normal mainstream activity.
In this section of the guide we therefore assume standard practice and refer to the specific issues emerging from a joint appointment.
Who wants to be a joint appointee?
Joint appointees generally act as change agents, influencing, facilitating and mediating between organisations.They very often work in the context of complex accountabilities and, on the whole, are appointed to jobs that grow, change and evolve rapidly. Successful joint appointees appear to be flexible and comfortable with uncertainty and fluidity.
As with appointments to a single organisation, successful recruitment begins with the development of a clear and comprehensive job description and person specification, which is used as the basis for the design of an appropriate process for attracting, assessing and selecting the right person.
Job description and person specification
There are a wide variety of joint appointments: clearly the job description and person specification need to identify the specific detail. However, respondents in the OPM research identified some of the personal attributes and skills and capabilities required by joint appointments in general (below). Few, if any, individuals will demonstrate all these abilities: it will be important to take a common-sense view in selecting the required qualities from this list on the basis of level of seniority and responsibility and the type of role, i.e. strategic, policy or service. Thus, for example, skills in working independently and confidence in working with uncertainty may be seen as core skills, whereas strategic ability may be more important for a senior post than for someone in a service provider role.
'The Post holder should be someone who is able to translate strategy into practical agendas, support and empower people, bring organisational cultures together, recognise that the post holder may need to act as a mediator between organisations and may find themselves pulled in different directions. You have to be able to hack it and actually enjoy it!'
- ability to think both strategically and operationally
- ability to look at the big picture
- assertiveness to challenge existing systems and processes where appropriate
- experience in multi-agency working
- ability to work within different organisations’ cultures and systems, while not necessarily identifying with them
- ability to deal with difficult personalities effectively, bring people together and build consensus
- confidence when working with uncertainty
- excellent verbal communication and networking skills
- ability to mediate, facilitate and negotiate
- good leadership skills, including the ability to engage and empower stakeholders, lead and coordinate joint planning and manage upwards
- ability to translate strategy into action, a self-starter, focused, well- motivated, self-disciplined and able to work independently
- strong project management skills
- acute political skills and conflict management skills
- ability to develop support networks, possibly with other joint appointees
- ability to prioritise and juggle long and short-term goals.
Personal attributes required in a joint appointee:
- perceptive and intuitive
- open minded
- confident (and credible)
- strong sense of social values
- sense of humour.
The advertisement should be designed to call attention to the specific skills, capabilities and qualities needed in a joint appointee.
It may be a good idea to take an unusual, but particularly honest, approach when advertising, such as: 'If you are seeking glory and applause from your job, skip this ad. If you are looking for the satisfaction of knowing you make a difference, read on. Not for the faint-hearted.'
The text should state clearly whether previous experience of holding a joint appointment is required, and should emphasise the personal attributes and characteristics sought. For those with no prior experience of joint appointments the learning curve can be steep. This can present a risk if the post will only be funded for a short and specific time period.
As with any job, the advertisement should also clearly state the salary range and scale; length of contract, if appropriate; the application process; and a description of the post's purpose, challenges and opportunities.
Partners should think about the best place to advertise in relation to the specific purpose of the job, avoiding the temptation to confine themselves to the standard places that one or other partner might conventionally use to advertise posts. Organisational newsletters, local and national newspapers and web sites may be appropriate, as may special interest journals, professional journals, black and minority ethnic group press and gay and lesbian press.
This should provide:
- details of the partnership history to date between the partner organisations and other joint appointments that currently exist;
- socio-economic profile of the local area;
- Annual Report/Strategic Plan of partner organisations;
- clarity on how the objectives of this post feed into the objectives of each organisation and their shared goals;
- political make-up of the council; the membership of the health board and details of the management board of any other partner organisation;
- terms and conditions and flexibility within these arrangements. For example, will it be possible for the person appointed to decide if they want an NHSScotland or local government contract, on the basis that these organisations will be the main partner bodies?;
- location of the post;
- objectives and job description;
- person specification; and
- selection process.
There are many ways of managing the selection process, and again it is important to draw on the standard practices in place in partner organisations.
If you choose to hold a panel interview, ensure that you have at least one member on the panel with a good understanding of what being a joint appointee is about. Think about inviting someone from another area who is currently in a joint appointment role. All of the partner organisations should be represented. It may be sensible, depending on the purpose of the joint appointment, to have on the panel a voluntary sector member, a councillor or board member, a GP or a member of the professional group with whom the appointee may find themselves working.
An assessment centre may also be a useful tool for allowing interviewers to assess candidates in relation to particular clusters of job activities central to the role. There are nine frequently assessed behavioural dimensions: oral communication, planning and organising, delegation, control, decisiveness, initiative, tolerance of stress, adaptability and tenacity.
Measurement devices might consist of personality tests, interviews, typical paper-and-pencil administrative tasks, leaderless group discussions and case analyses.
Good practice note
We have identified particular skills and personal attributes required for a joint appointment. These cluster around confidence, independence and integrity. Successful recruitment processes have found ways of enabling candidates to demonstrate these capabilities: for example, requiring candidates to prepare and deliver a short presentation or setting a problem-solving exercise.
Consider asking interviewees to read a short scenario of a typical challenge a joint appointee may face; ask them to describe how they might deal with or respond to this situation. Keep the skills and person specification of the joint appointee in mind at all times and develop questions to draw these out.
You may also want to consider using a psychometric test, given the importance of personality for the role.
Salary, contract and terms and conditions
Salary and terms and conditions can often be an issue, because joint appointments attract people from a range of professional backgrounds in health organisations, local government and elsewhere. Factors you may want to consider are:
- should posts be evaluated and graded across both organisations? If so what groups or committees will need to approve funding?
- will you offer people a choice of local authority or health board contract? - these being the main partner organisations. This may be important for continuity of pension arrangements.
- parity of terms and conditions with other joint appointees or others of a similar level of responsibility within the partner organisations.
- will the post holder be managing others, immediately or in the future? Parity again will need to be considered, particularly if the people involved hold contracts with different organisations, as NHS pay scales differ from local authority ones. Our research with existing joint appointees revealed differences in remuneration in some cases, causing disparities in the line management relationship.
- if you appoint a professional, such as a nurse, an allied health professional, a police officer etc, will they be paid according to their professional salary scale, or will they be remunerated based on a salary scale decided upon for the post?; and
- if this is to be a permanent post, will the issue of promotion to a higher salary scale be available should the post or post holder develop over time? The agreed mechanism responsible for the strategic management of the post may need to consider this at an early stage.
Good practice note
It is important to make sure that difficulties arising in relation to contracts, salaries and so on are not, in reality, a proxy for other issues that have not been resolved. It is easy to become entangled in bureaucratic wrangling about, for example, who holds the contract when in reality this is merely an issue of administrative convenience. If these kinds of disagreements persist, it is important to ask questions - is the debate that is nominally about the contract actually about power and control? Likewise, if the debate is about salary scales, is it actually a debate about the extent to which the joint appointment is valued or the capability of the line manager to help the joint appointee to work through complex issues?
These issues are particularly crucial for multi-agency and multi-professional teams where people are drawn from different organisations with different professional backgrounds to work as part of a team in which members are assumed to have equal levels of responsibility: for example, Sure Start or Youth offending teams.
Critical Success Factor 5: Administrative and logistical support
Support Partners should recognise that there may be differences in systems between organisations. Potential problems arising from a differential availability of resources, for example, need to be anticipated, or responded to quickly when identified.
These practical issues are even more important for joint appointees than for any other employee, and need to be taken seriously.
Joint appointees particularly need to have access to technology and software that is compatible with all organisations. They need to be networked into partner organisations and thought needs to be given to how best to manage this, for example by having all emails bounced to one location. It is astounding how much difficulty and frustration joint appointees can experience due to incompatible software or lack of email facilities.
As well as facilitating one-to-one communication, having access to all partners' networks will ensure that joint appointees receive the internal circulars and regular emails that go to everyone in an organisation. This will help the joint appointee feel part of organisations, develop an understanding of the culture of the organisations and ensure they are up to date with organisational issues, social opportunities, and so on. It does however increase the volume of information the post holder has to deal with.
Depending on the purpose of the joint appointee's role, it is likely that administrative support will be needed. It is not acceptable to rely on temporary agency staff; or on existing administrative staff who are located within a different building; or staff who have had supporting a joint appointee recently tagged on to their job description with no discussion, extra remuneration or appropriate accountability.
These kinds of scenarios will ultimately reduce the effectiveness of the joint appointee, as well as reducing their morale. Joint appointees often spend much of their time out of the office, so having someone available to inform callers of their location or return time is valuable, as is having someone to manage the volume of information flowing to and from the appointee and each organisation.
Some joint appointees have a desk in all partner organisations and spend time at each. This may not be possible; however, joint appointees who do operate in this way indicate that it helps to ensure they are not seen as 'owned' by one organisation and therefore working more in the interests of that organisation.
Mobile technology and voicemail are vital in order to ensure that joint appointees are accessible to all sides of the partnership, particularly if no administrative support is available. This is particularly the case if joint appointees are working with the community.
Email: Kate Thomas