April 25, 1996 Vol. 25 No. 31

Process keys on staff development,
emphasizes teamwork

This spring marks the anniversary of Penn State's new Staff Review and Development Plan. The plan, which focuses on staff development, is the cornerstone of the University's approach to managing staff performance. Beginning this month, staff will review with their supervisors the plan they put in place last year and examine their progress toward the goals they specified last year.

"The former performance appraisal process focused on evaluation, while the Staff Review and Development Plan facilitates staff development and reflects the University's emphasis on teamwork, quality, commitment to diversity and customer service," Billie Willits, assistant vice president for Human Resources, said.

During the fledgling process in 1995, staff members drew up a self-assessment and came up with a one-year action plan for reaching goals. Action plans could have included items ranging from helping to increase communication within a department to taking a professional development course. It's time to ask if goals were met and what can be done differently next year to aid professional growth.

"In today's rapidly changing organizations, continuous development is essential for enhancing individual careers and organizational success," Gary Schultz, senior vice president for business and finance and treasurer, said. "The staff review and development process provides a way to focus professional development on both individual and departmental goals."

To help University employees reach their potential, the Human Resource Development Center offers support for staff and management efforts to create and implement development plans. A division of the Office of Human Resources, HRDC offers programs and services that improve the performance of both individuals and departments. Not only does HRDC offer a comprehensive schedule of courses each semester, but also designs and delivers customized programs and offers facilitation and consultation services -- including assistance with strategic planning and managing organizational change.

Many employees are taking advantage of HRDC's development offerings. During the last three years, attendance at programs offered by HRDC has increased by more than 125 percent. Lenny Pollack, who manages HRDC, attributes some of the increased program demand to the number of staff who included HRDC courses in their development plans last year. He also pointed out that several departments and colleges are requesting tailored programs that address the collective needs of employees in the unit.

"Such programs are very cost effective, can be scheduled at off-peak times, such as summer, and focus development on a particular priority," Dr. Pollack said.

For example, the Enrollment Management and Administration Division recently worked with HRDC to meet a unit-wide goal to improve delivery of seamless services to its customers.

"The program was an especially good match with the core services and functions of the division," Anna Griswold, assistant vice president for financial aid, said. "Benefits for our organization included staff empowerment and team building, practical application and relevance, improved communication skills and a focused approach to quality service."

In addition, HRDC can also help organizational areas assess and prioritize their training needs.

"HRDC's goal is to offer a comprehensive schedule of programs that includes something for everyone's development plan," Dr. Pollack said.

Toward this end, many new courses are related to the eight performance factors or review criteria in the new Staff Review and Development Plan: job knowledge, judgment and problem solving, self-management, teamwork, quality, commitment to diversity, customer service and communication.

For more information on how HRDC can help make development plans work, contact Dr. Pollack at (814) 865-3507.

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This page was created by Annemarie Mountz.
Last updated April 25, 1996.