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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

May 1, 2009

HRS offers new professional development courses

by Paula Van Brocklin

This used to be a typical scenario for human resource services: A department manager contacts HRS seeking professional development training for her employees. HRS staff explain that its learning and development team is too small to accommodate her request. Instead, HRS suggests some videos in its library that may offer some assistance. But the manager needs the topic tailored to her department. Dead end.

HRS has attempted to remedy this situation by beefing up its professional development offerings with the assistance of four Iowa-based consultants: ATW Training and Consulting, People Works, Innovations and Meyvn Group. The vendors offer training in:

  • Team building/employee motivation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Management skills
  • Customer service
  • Business skills
  • Communication

"There was something out there that our employees needed but we couldn't provide, so we wanted to find resources to meet those needs," said Jessica Stolee, human resource specialist.

For more than a year, HRS led a committee of campus leaders that interviewed dozens of local training consultants. The group chose the final four vendors based on their familiarity with Iowa State, varied areas of expertise and flexible training schedules. The committee also worked closely with ISU purchasing to negotiate the consultants' fees. Costs vary for the classes, and are charged back to the requesting department.

Flexibility is key

Whether a department has two hours or two days for training, Stolee said the consultants are willing to adapt their sessions. The consultants also offer tailored training for a specific department or situation. Each consultant may offer the same type of training, but with different nuances.

"As a manager, you can look through [the consultants' training options] and say I need team building, but I don't need this. Then you can look at all the vendors and say this one offers more of what I'm looking for," said Francesca Galarraga, assistant director of equal opportunity and diversity. "We wanted to give that kind of variety."

While managers and department heads are especially encouraged to take advantage of the course offerings, any employee may do so with his or her manager's approval.

"At our university, we want to emphasize continuous improvement," Galarraga said. "It's important for us to have highly skilled employees, and this is one of the ways we can assist them."

More information

Information about the types of professional development training available is on the HRS web site. There are minimum and maximum enrollment requirements for some courses. Departments may merge to meet the minimum requirements. Employees interested in enrolling in classes should check the HRS course catalog on AccessPlus. Departments interested in using the outside consultants should contact the HRS Center, 4-4800, or e-mail


12+ Supervisory Leadership Program

While many of its in-house training and development offerings have been phased out, Iowa State continues to offer the 12+ Supervisory Leadership Program. This class is designed to help supervisors build the day-to-day skills and competencies needed to work effectively with their team members, peers and customers. For more information, go online or call 4-7612.