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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University August 4, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 41
Rethinking HR for the Future

Goal is to be more responsive to the changing workplace

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Human Resources is reinventing itself.

A number of major organizational and customer service changes are on tap as the office strives to transform itself to better align with the university's mission and goals, and to be more responsive to a changing workplace.

Among its aims, Human Resources wants to ensure that the right talent is in the right job, increase employee morale and engagement, identify high potential talent in an organization's pipeline for succession planning and develop employee skills to support current and future needs.

The "HR Transformation," which has already begun and will play out over the next two years, will change some central and Homewood divisional HR office roles and reporting relationships. There will be a new team-based interdisciplinary approach to talent management and an increased focus on analytics and metrics. Some physical office locations may change, too.

Charlene Hayes, vice president for human resources, said that the university's new market- based compensation program and integrated SAP business software system, both rolled out in 2006, laid the foundation for what she calls the organization's "people" strategy, articulated in a new mission and vision statement [see below]. Hayes said she wants to raise the bar on Human Resources' services and increase the overall skill level for personnel.

"These are big changes," Hayes said. "We want to be sure that Human Resources is positioned to help our leaders figure out what skills are needed across the university. Do we have the right person in the right job with the right skills? And, if not, how do we figure out how to close this gap? We also want to do a better job of getting our people engaged and involved with the work of the university."

Perhaps the most visible and wide-ranging change will be in talent management and organizational development, which is now consolidated into one office under the direction of Debbie Sampson. In place of the centers for Training and Education, Career Management and Organizational Development, all of which have been dissolved, will be two cross-expertise Talent Management and Organization Development teams. These two teams will be supported administratively by a Project Management Office.

Learning Solutions, formerly Financial and Information Technology Training, will continue to be led by Louis Biggie and provide institutionwide financial and technology learning and e-learning capabilities. The majority of training and skill classes, currently offered at the Johns Hopkins at Eastern campus, will remain.

The two Talent Management and Organization Development teams — one for the East Baltimore campus and one for all other university divisions, excluding the Applied Physics Laboratory — will deliver strategic consulting services and partner with their clients to address talent management needs. Each team includes consultants with expertise in talent management, learning management/development and organization development.

Hayes said that these two groups of professionals will be able to offer a more holistic approach. For example, she said, a team could be contacted to provide a training program in interactive multimedia for a department, but during the consultation process a specialist might identify other skill training or organizational deficiencies that need to be addressed.

"Before, we had the three centers that all worked in their own silos," Hayes said. "Now we have these two teams of people who will be able to offer a range of services. Instead of just addressing individual issues, or the symptoms of a problem, we are now able to look at the bigger picture and root causes."

Additionally, TMOD has established centers of expertise made up of representatives from both teams. These centers will proactively develop and implement new processes and strategies to support the university's current and future needs in the areas of organization development, talent management and learning development.

The Program Management team will develop and provide tools and resources, both new and enhanced, for managers and university leaders. It will design templates and tool kits for performance management and succession planning, Web-based resources and assessments for career development, career pathing guides and leadership development tools and articles. This group will also develop reports to track the university's progress in key talent management processes.

The effort is already under way. A program in performance management is currently being piloted at the Wilmer Eye Institute, and a program in succession planning will be piloted at the School of Nursing.

In another sweeping organizational change, a new office of WorkLife and Engagement has been created, with Michelle Carlstrom as its senior director. The new office oversees the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program, LifeSpan Services and the Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs.

As part of this reorganization, WorkLife and Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs will share responsibilities for outreach and university activities such as the annual picnic. The new office will also have a dedicated marketing and communications person and a new data management system to enhance services. The HR Today publication also falls under WorkLife.

Hayes said that the WorkLife and Engagement Office will be able to better promote and communicate its events and activities and expand or enhance outreach, retiree and clinical services. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program already offers expanded locations and hours, and plans are to develop services and support to pre-retirees, such as enhanced retirement planning for employees roughly five years out.

"By pulling all of these offices together, we hope to leverage our resources and enhance workplace satisfaction and productivity," Hayes said. "It's also about creating an environment where the employee can focus on his or her work."

In the Homewood Human Resources Division, Art McCombs, senior director, will assume direct supervisory responsibility for recruiting staff and will serve as primary contact for staff-relations issues. There will be additional restructuring of Homewood HR positions, including the creation of a generalist position to provide more in-depth expertise in human resources.

Hayes said that HR ultimately wants to evolve into a strategic business partner that better serves its clients.

"This transformation should be a win-win for both the university and Human Resources," she said. "HR will partner with the university to attract, develop and engage the high-quality work force it demands. During the process, HR staff will be learning new skills in business understanding, consulting, and financial and project management."

The university as a whole is evolving, Hayes said, and Human Resources needs to change with it. She points to the reality of a new university president in 2009, an ongoing universitywide strategic planning effort (Framework for the Future), Johns Hopkins' continued physical growth and advancements in technology.

"We want to be more responsive to change," she said. "I think the HR Transformation will allow us to see the change as it happens and have the right people in place to deal with issues that arise."


New HR mission and vision statements

Mission: To support the university's effort in attracting, developing, retaining and engaging a high- performing work force in support of excellence in the university's mission, while promoting diversity, equity, civility and respect.

Vision: Human Resources collaborates actively with university leaders to maximize organizational performance and engage world-class faculty and staff.


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