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Managing Your Career Also Means a Better AU

By Linda McHugh

In its 2009 strategic plan, “Leadership for a Changing World,” AU defined the goal “to encourage innovation and high performance,” as part of a drive for excellence and recognition.

In his welcoming words at the October 24 annual Staff Council luncheon, AU president Neil Kerwin noted how in an educational institution, workplace learning is a key value, and that by strategically planning and managing our work performance we all help the university reach its ambitious goals. 

Repurposing Performance Management
As a key step in reaching those goals, Human Resources staff, aided by an advisory Performance Management Project Team, reviewed the initial purpose of AU’s performance management program (PMP) and found that it emphasized the institution’s needs, but didn’t offer  managers and staff a way to reach their job or career goals.

In response, the advisory team suggested that AU add an individual learning plan component to its performance planning toolkit.

“By including learning plans in our work strategies, AU is formalizing what’s been happening informally all across the campus for a long time,” said Beth Muha, assistant vice president, Human Resources. 

When a staff member meets with his or her dean or manager to plan for the upcoming year, they’ll soon have a tool to help them plan for career development and skills enhancement as well as meet the university’s needs. 

Individual learning plans are an optional, added component of performance management planning—not a replacement. Facilities Management is already using a form of these called individual development plans. Human Resources hopes the tool will inspire top employees and encourage everyone to take a close look at their career.  

To clarify the intent of the new learning plan program, the team is working on a statement of purpose that will be published.

An Easier Way to Track Learning
A group has been designing a new online tool that will make it easier for staff to track the training they’ve taken, to register for classes, to plan performance, and more. The first phase of this system will be launched in Jan. 2012.

Some of its initial functions will enable you to:

  • access the tool through the AU portal
  • search and register for online professional development courses
  • review and manage your training assignments and approvals
  • access online course evaluations
  • receive email notifications of requested trainings

What’s Next?
One challenge identified from feedback and in surveys held earlier this year is that many workers have difficulty linking their daily tasks to the AU strategic plan. This can lead to delays and confusion in developing annual PMPs, especially for positions that focus on daily operations or providing a service.

The project team is considering ways to make these daily work activities easier to articulate in the performance management system.  We will report on this in our next American Today issue.

The work of the PMP project team aims to improve the current performance management system at AU. In the last few months of work, the team has:

  • clarified the purpose of the overall performance management system
  • begun developing an optional, complementary Individual Learning Plan feature
  • discussed the new Learning Management System being developed by staff from Human Resources, IT, and other departments

Team Members
Chair: Beth Muha, Human Resources
Members: Fanta Aw, Campus Life; Matteo Becchi, OIT and Staff Council; Ariel Borochov, Public Safety; Dawn DePasquale, Human Resources; Violeta Ettle, Office of the Provost; Vin Harkins, Facilities; Jessica Hegman, Athletics; Patricia Kelshian, Risk Management and Safety Services; Jesse Lanier, Development and Alumni Relations; Linda McHugh, University Communications and Marketing; Jaimi Mendoza, Facilities; Michelle Mikkelsen, Library; Carey Needham, WAMU; Cathy Prather, WCL; Heather Smith, Human Resources; Funda Toptouglu, OIT
Resource members (Human Resources): Sarah Bayne, Brenda Harner, Sheila Way