UC Berkeley News


'If we all develop our employees, we all benefit,' says HR's top manager
Looking at Berkeley's current job structure as well as its future needs, Jeannine Raymond sees opportunities for employees to grow and advance

| 21 March 2007

Jeannine Raymond illustrates the need to rework the campus's job structure by pointing out one of the 60-year-old job titles still on the books: cowboy.

In the coming year, Raymond, who became Berkeley's assistant vice chancellor of human resources last July, will spearhead the rollout of Career Compass, an ambitious trio of initiatives that link a new job structure - one that, among other improvements, eliminates anachronistic positions requiring equestrian skills and chaps - to performance-management and training programs for Berkeley staff.

"The opportunity to work on this project has motivated several people to consider positions in HR at Berkeley, myself included," says Raymond, who calls Career Compass "extremely aggressive and comprehensive."

Jeannine Raymond brings more than 22 years of management experience in higher education to her new role at Berkeley. (Wendy Edelstein photo)

Five years ago, the Staff Infrastructure Steering Committee (SISC) embarked on a project to overhaul the way the campus manages its workforce. The first phase of the Career Compass rollout will introduce new job standards and performance-management tools. Career-development programs that align with the overhauled job standards are also in the works, says Raymond, making this "a very strategic year for those projects." (More details on Career Compass will be forthcoming in the Berkeleyan later this spring.)

The challenge of strengthening the relationship between central Human Resources and the wider campus also attracted Raymond to Berkeley from CSU Fresno, where she held a position equivalent to her current one. As a result of several leadership changes in HR over the last decade, explains Raymond, departmental human-resource managers have found that they sometimes experience a lack of consistent support and guidance.

The top-level transitions "have made it challenging for Human Resources to provide solid services to its customers," says Raymond. In a decentralized culture like Berkeley's, "departments need to be able to rely on the central office for help in certain circumstances. We need to improve the help we deliver." Raymond recently surveyed the needs of the campus's human-resources managers to determine what new services need to be developed.

Other changes afoot

HR's recruitment unit almost immediately caught Raymond's attention when she arrived at Berkeley. "We are not staffed at a level that can respond to campus needs," she says. "We have three recruiters who cover about 8,000 campus positions that turn over at the rate of about 1,500 per year," she observes.

While the number of recruiters may have been adequate at one time, two things have changed: a diminishing labor market, due to the wave of baby-boomer retirements, has increased the competition for qualified applicants, and the implementation of eRecruit, a web-based staff-recruiting tool, has transformed the paper application process to an online one. Central HR recruiters are limited in the help they can offer campus departments, and much of that assistance is transactional. "I really had to ask myself, 'What value does the central office add to that process? What should it be doing?'" says Raymond.

Berkeley's recruiting unit has had a traditional structure within which recruiters are assigned to different campus control units, such as Administration or Capital Projects. Raymond is currently experimenting with the staff on a model that will assign recruiters by job type or subject area. The recruiters would become subject-matter experts familiar with particular job markets.

Central recruiting can be where "you start developing pipelines into various types of jobs," says Raymond. "Recruiters can then learn where to go in the labor market to find fundraisers, for example. Or where to find internal interest in that career path. You develop some expertise in the central office that can help you mine different sources for diverse job applicants that will vary depending on the type of job it is."

Boomers or bust

Retooling central recruitment is a critical move given predicted trends in the labor force. As baby boomers continue to retire in the next decade, there will be a nationwide shortage of trained people in the workforce. "Institutions across the country are looking within their ranks to develop their own people," says Raymond. Berkeley is no exception to that boomer-retirement trend - between 35 percent and 40 percent of campus staff are expected to retire within the next decade - or to the move to develop new candidates internally.

To cultivate the talent of campus staff, HR is collaborating with the Center for Workforce Development (CWD), which provides educational opportunities for employees, to offer new workshops in such areas as managerial and supervisory training and leadership development that specifically support Berkeley's succession-planning goals. HR and CWD will also be providing career planning - consultations, advice, and self-assessment programs - for staff seeking management positions.

Programs are beginning for employees who express a desire to advance their careers, explains Raymond. "Someone might want to be a manager or a supervisor or have an executive-leadership role. They might even want to be the chancellor someday," she says.

Succession planning "means that senior managers are looking into the organization to find those people that they think are ready to step up to the plate or have potential to do so," says Raymond. Its success hinges upon the organization providing training opportunities, staff taking initiative, and management supporting individual professional development.

Campus managers "need to collectively agree that if we all develop our employees, we all benefit. As one of my employees grows and moves on, I may benefit from receiving an employee from another department who is looking for a growth opportunity," says Raymond. "I understand that there may be a reluctance to let people go."

Raymond sketches a variety of scenarios in which a staff member might acquire the requisite skills and knowledge to advance at Berkeley: "You might find ways outside of your job to get the training you need. Some people move out of the university to a different job to get experience and return to Berkeley." Other people might stay in their current department but take on more complex projects, or move within Berkeley to a department that offers new opportunities for growth.

Succession planning is far from a science, since it's difficult to predict what the organizational structure will look like 10 years from now, or precisely what jobs will need to be filled. "You might say that within the next five years we know there will be, say, 30 retirements from a given control unit, but we cannot predict who specifically will retire next year or the year after. Nor do we know if the positions that exist today will look exactly the same, because reporting relationships and job duties change as departments merge or take on new initiatives."

What the university can do, Raymond says, is develop talent pools. "We can offer training to people who wish to move into management by offering workshops in relevant skills, but acquiring job-content knowledge requires an individual investment. You may take on a new job, take outside coursework, attend professional training, or a combination of these." Succession planning is "a partnership involving individual effort and institutional planning," she says.

Those staff interested in professional growth are encouraged to think strategically about their future. "You, the individual, are going to have to contribute some to that planning," Raymond emphasizes. "You have to be willing to move out of your comfort zone and take the risk."

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