Loud and clear; Gausvik says he’s listening
By Katherine Ward
Tom Gausvik spends a lot of time listening. The chief human resource officer spends his days working in a department that all employees — a workforce of some 18,000 today — must deal with at some point. Through all this listening, he hears loud and clear that employees think a program to train new managers is needed.
These requests haven’t fallen on deaf ears. With Gausvik’s support, a new Universitywide initiative has been put in place aimed at faculty and staff workforce development. Backed by both a steering committee and an advisory council, Gausvik calls the initiative a strategic approach, intended to benefit both individuals in the University community and the institution as a whole.
“In my 22 years here, we have not had a major strategic workforce development initiative that encompasses all aspects of learning, development and training,” Gausvik said. “We think the time is now to do that. As we go forward, we have to have a coherent institutional strategy targeted at faculty and staff.”
“Many units on Grounds provide training and development of one sort or another,” said Yoke San Reynolds, vice president for finance. “This training is important in helping our faculty and staff acquire the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities of various types — from computer skills, to managerial and leadership skills. Now we want to take training and development of the workforce to the next level, by linking it to the strategic needs of departments, schools and the University. In other words, taking a long-term ‘system approach’ to development of U.Va.’s people.”
According to Gausvik, the advisory council is meant to provide support for the steering committee, and to “get down to the nuts and bolts of what needs to be done,” Gausvik said.
The steering committee is chaired by Reynolds and includes Gertrude Fraser, vice provost for faculty advancement, and Peg Van Bree, chief operating officer of the Medical Center.
“Also on the committee are David Breneman, dean of the Curry School of Education, to provide expertise on performance measures used in education, and Sondra Stallard, dean of the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, who brings her expertise on adult learning,”
Reynolds said. The group also has representatives from two schools: Dr. Sharon Hostler, senior associate dean in the School of Medicine, who has developed and implemented a very successful Leadership in Academic Medicine program, and Adam Daniel, associate dean for planning of the College of Arts & Sciences, Reynolds said.
The advisory committee is chaired by Gausvik and includes faculty, managers and staff from across the University, including the Medical Center.
The groups will be conducting learning and development needs assessment, and developing quality assurance standards and performance measures including customer feedback. The first program to be tested using the new approach is the Excellence In Supervisory Management Series, which is intended initially to focus on managers with limited supervisory experience. Beginning in early May, there will be a call for nominations for the first series cohort, who begin their activities in June. Bob Lake, executive director of the UHR Office of Learning and Development, will manage the series, which will last six months with participants attending classes two days per month.
“The series has two certification levels: basic and core supervisory skills,” Lake said. “At the first level, we expect participants to take with them a solid understanding of what it means to be a frontline manager here at the University, in their roles and relationships to both U.Va. and the people they supervise.
“On the second level, we go into supervisory success factors such as developing and facilitating effective relationships, planning and organizing work, team building, managing performance and staff development.”
Gausvik stressed that this is the first of several certification series and development programs the committees plan to put in place at U.Va. Others in the planning stages include programs in finance and
accounting, HR management and research administration. “These will be very specialized,” Gausvik said. “Each series will give employees the practical knowledge and experience that they can then apply back into their work at the University.”
Acceptance notices for the first cohort of the Excellence In Supervisory Management Certificate Series will be distributed June 6 through 10 to around 15 participants. Some introductory pre-work starts in June with classes starting July 14. This first series offering is a pilot and will be free of charge. Specific nomination requirements can be found at www.web.virginia.edu/DOTweb /MDP/Offerings/ESMSeries.htm.
“If our managers and employees say learning and development is needed, then it’s our job to provide the opportunities,” he said.
And when employees called for this, Gausvik was listening.