strengthening the foundation

strengthening the foundation

Investing in Employees
Focus Foundation 232x162

Stormy economic times have many organizations cutting back or eliminating employee development. “Not at JWU,” says university president John Bowen ’77. “Our Employee Development Institute is inherent to FOCUS 2011.” Bowen and architects of JWU’s strategic plan know there are “few things more powerful than maximizing employee capabilities, aligning their development with strategic goals and investing in employees so they can better serve our students and position JWU for greater success while reaching their own potential.”

The programming and JWU Competency Model have been developed to give employees a “shared history, shared expectations and a shared sense of what’s important,” says Kris McNamara ’94 MS, director of the Employee Development Institute. “JWU is a nurturing learning environment for its students. We asked ourselves, ‘Shouldn’t we do the same for our faculty and staff?’” Reaction from around the university has been encouraging:

Jeanne Spinosa, manager of telecommunications, Providence Campus “An organization is only as good as its employees. This programming tells me that JWU cares to invest in its faculty, staff and administrators. The better professionals we are, the better prepared we are to serve our students.

“Personally, the training sessions have meant a lot. It’s given me a safe and structured environment within which to reflect on my behaviors and actions, step back, be more self aware and learn from my colleagues. You connect with people from across the university.

“We have different perspectives, but share challenges and goals. Even though I’m not in the classroom, I affect the student experience through my interactions with my student employees, and through the service my department provides our students, faculty and staff.”

Jordan Fickess, executive administrator, North Miami Campus “Our primary goal is to help students achieve their dream of graduating with a college degree. One way we accomplish that is by developing employees. The knowledge faculty and staff gain is passed on. We tell our students that learning never stops.

“The institute and workshops have established an environment of continuous growth and improvement. It has challenged staff and faculty to raise the bar in their daily interactions with students and others; helped engage employees; given us a renewed energy; inspired us to think differently and employ new methods to tackle goals.

“The competencies are a great barometer and reflect our campus culture. The Manager Series has changed the way we hire and mentor. JWU101 helps reinforce our university history. We’re all asked to think carefully about resources, and work toward a common goal.”

Kim Ostrowski, director of admissions, Denver Campus “I’ve worked in higher education for 17 years and attended trainings, but these are customized for JWU, so they don’t end up as a binder on the shelf. We’re incorporating it into our daily routine.

“There is a secondary team-building benefit. Training with employees outside your area fosters an even more collaborative campus environment. I’m just so grateful for this type of professional development. Short-sighted organizations are paring down employee benefits. JWU will reap the rewards of honoring its commitment and allocating time and money to develop its employees.”

Mark Norman, executive director of operations, Charlotte Campus “With increased demand for productivity, organizations must empower employees to make instant decisions to support customers, yet remain consistent with policies. JWU’s Employee Development Institute offers developmental workshops to prepare leaders and frontline employees to meet rising expectations. JWU’s growth over the past decade no longer allows us to look to a few to make decisions. It has to be a team effort, and through these workshops our employees gain the tools to make decisions with confidence.

“Through surveying our students we have evidence that our employees are the greatest factor in how a student perceives the experience. Therefore, they are the key to our efforts to attain our graduation goals by retaining our students. The institute guides us in selection, training and coaching. It’s important we have our ‘aces in their places.’”

Image: Providence Campus employees engage in a team-building exercise.