HR launches career development makeover

First step: Expand and improve supervisor training
by Jan Stapleman, Office of Communications
There’s good news in the works for CDPHE employees struggling to advance their careers. Office of Human Resources Director Joi Simpson and Training Administrator Audrey Valdez are revamping the department’s professional development program.​
“The No. 1 issue for improving employee engagement is professional development,” said Simpson.
A report from Deloitte Insights noted, “Most engagement research shows that learning opportunities, professional development, and career progression are among the top drivers of employee satisfaction.” A 2016 survey of 2,000 employees from various organizations by BetterBuys, a Web-based resource on business technology, revealed 92 percent of respondents ranked professional development as “important” or “very important.” The survey found employees with professional development opportunities had a 34 percent higher retention rate.
HR’s first step, currently underway, is to lay the foundation for a comprehensive professional development curriculum by updating supervisor training. Based on a January needs assessment conducted by HR, supervisor training will be expanded and tied to core competencies established by the state’s Division of Human Resources. Additional training in interpersonal and communication skills will enhance the basic technical skills offered in the past. To earn a supervisor certificate, staff members will pursue a curriculum of mandatory courses and choose from elective courses to achieve advanced-level training.
One goal of expanding supervisory skills is to prepare supervisors to act as catalysts for their employees’ professional development.
“We want to make sure supervisors understand how to have conversations with their employees on a regular basis to help them develop their careers,” said Valdez. “They should be able to tell employees what core competencies are needed for their goals and how to get them.”
In the next step toward building what Valdez envisions as a robust training academy, she plans to set up a one-stop intranet page listing all training opportunities, from division and department classes, to offerings from the Department of Personnel & Administration and other external sources, to online training such as Fred Pryor seminars. Mandatory training will include classes on preventing sexual harassment, preventing workplace violence, mandatory reporting, and the National Incident Management System. Electives will help educate employees who want to move up as well as those who want to expand the skills they bring to their current work.
“We want to put a road map together so employees can lay out a plan,” Valdez said.
The department will take advantage of CO.TRAIN’s capabilities as a learning management system, which will track the classes employees complete. All employees will have a CO.TRAIN account, and when year-end evaluations roll around, they will be able to use the system to show their supervisor the training they completed during the year.
Employees also may choose to create an Individual Career Development Plan. The planning template, first introduced at the department in 2016, guides employees and their supervisors through a collaborative process of goal-setting, designing strategies for meeting those goals, and tracking progress. Valdez is counting on increased input and engagement from supervisors to boost its successful use.
Simpson acknowledged it will take time to put all the pieces of this ambitious plan in place.
“We’re asking for patience,” she said. “We have an opportunity to make our professional development program better. We’re going to take the time to get it right to make sure our employees get the best training and support. Meanwhile, our HR consultants are here to help.”