The University Record, February 6, 1996

HRD classes prove to be winners for staff participants

By Jared Blank

With the recent release of the expanded three-term Human Resources Development (HRD) course catalog, staff from an array of units have been signing up to take advantage of the professional development course offerings. From basic management strategies to improving your telephone service skills to administering federal grants, courses are available that can benefit anybody, says Robert Holmes, director of human resource development and of M-Quality.

"With the help of staff and managers all across the campus," Holmes says, "HRD seeks to offer courses that are highly relevant to the needs of people who work in many capacities in the University. Courses are designed to fit anybody's schedule, with some lasting just a few hours to sessions on M-Quality Team Leader Training that last five days. We try to provide development opportunities for the diverse workforce across campus."

Mary Ceccanese, an administrative assistant in the Business School, found HRD courses to be a helpful orientation tool. "I came to the University from the private sector, and I took courses to introduce me to the University climate. The classes I took showed me how to do my job efficiently and effectively in my new setting," she explains. "Actually, one of the most fascinating classes I took was how to work effectively with Mail Services---it really helped me to find out how Mail Services works, and I was able to apply the knowledge to my job.

"Also," she says, "through the courses I met a network of people around the University whom I can contact on different issues."

Others use the courses to develop specific skills that they can take back to their unit and apply to their jobs. Dorie Lawrence, a secretary in School of Dentistry development, praises the "How to Take Good Minutes" course and the business writing course she attended.

"I had never taken minutes before I took the class," she says. "I found the class especially helpful because the instructor helped to break down some preconceived notions I had about taking minutes. For example, the instructor spent time telling us what we did not have to do when taking minutes. Now, I take minutes for a committee of which I'm a member."

Lawrence also says that the three sessions she spent on business writing were a great investment of her time. "Working in development, we do lots of letters acknowledging gifts that our office receives. I've found that I'm writing more efficiently, and I have a clearer organization of my thoughts. I've noticed improvements in other people's writing, too, since they have taken the course."

HRD classes also can offer extensive training for those interested in becoming an M-Quality facilitator. Roberta Young, coordinator of temporary staffing services, has attended a five-day Team Leader session and the four-day M-Quality Facilitator Training. "Facilitating is a valuable skill," Young notes. "The Facilitator training prepared me to begin developing this skill and also provided valuable materials that I have referenced frequently since attending. The instructors did a fantastic job of conducting this training and were able to share real M-Quality Team experiences and successes that they have had while working on campus."

Another course attended by Young, "Increasing Your Personal Effectiveness," designed by Employee Development Systems Inc., teaches participants how to better communicate with co-workers and formulate goals and priorities for their personal and professional lives. Young says the course was "very helpful in exploring not only my own personal style of interacting with others, but other people's styles of interaction and how to work with them to achieve positive results."

"These tools," she adds, "are beneficial not only when working with others one-on-one, but especially in team work where you may have several different personal styles to contend with."

HRD classes offer a chance to hone skills that already have been acquired. John McIlroy, program coordinator in College of Engineering continuing education, says he has made subtle changes in his work since taking "Developing Personal Leadership." "I learned to think of subtleties---the way I dress, the handouts I present in meetings---that I can use to help shape my image as a leader."

"In the business communication class," he says, "I focused on the importance of word-choice subtlety. I know the necessity of spending a little extra time to find the right word for the right situation. In fact, I just applied this in a series of letters I wrote for an upcoming conference."

Holmes adds that HRD is constantly looking for input and suggestions from the University community. "Evaluations that we receive on the courses allow us to `refresh' them in ways that we hope meet the evolving and ever-changing needs of the more than 2,000 University employees who take advantage of them each year," he says.

"Early signs are that our 1996 enrollments are running in excess of last year's enrollments, so be sure to sign up as soon as possible if you are interested."

To receive a copy of the new three-term HRD catalog, call 764-6410.