May 6, 2010

PULSE Survey, Extension version

A couple months ago I headed over to the U's Quality Fair, one of my favorite University-sponsored events (for which I think this year may have been the last? since that department has been dissolved? anybody know?). It was at the new stadium (on the press level! FANCY!) so that was very exciting for me to see for the first time. The press level has cushy chairs and very nice bathrooms. Bathrooms that broadcast the keynote speaker! You won't miss a thing! However, you will miss a thing if you obsess over there being NO COFFEE for the whole day. ARE THEY TRYING TO KILL ME.

Anyway. My point here was what. Oh yes! Even in my coffee-parched stupor, I happened upon a great poster at the Poster Session: a department had utilized the results of their PULSE survey to target training and try to increase job satisfaction and retention. Now I'm no HR person, but that sounded neat! I came back and talked to our HR and got a copy of our PULSE results from the last survey in 2008. I was hoping to look through and find any areas where we could target some resources from a programmatic perspective.

It was exciting to see that Extension as a unit (with 54% response rate) has very high job satisfaction, job importance, job worth type of feelings. We feel important! We like our co-workers and are overall pretty happy with benefits and pay and working at the U.

Two things I thought were interesting were a high level of work-family conflict and a low level of what they termed "work interdependence."

For the first one, work-family conflict, I have to admit I was a little surprised that Extension's work-family conflict was so much higher than other units at the U. Something about our jobs is tougher on personal lives than perhaps it could/should be and it would be a great project to figure that out.

For the second thing I thought was alarming, "work interdependence" is supposedly a measure of teamwork, but if you read the questions that figure into the data, it seems to be more of a measure of cross-teamwork ("How much do members of your workgroup depend on other workgroup members for help or assistance to do their work?"). Extension as a unit rated the lowest in the whole University for these questions. I think this reflects a fundamental cross-Center work problem that has been around Extension for years. I remember my first day in Extension, my boss explaining to me that we can't have "silos" and I'm not a farm girl so I was like, blink. blink. silos are bad?

One idea I have to try to combat the silos is a cross-Center "buddy" program. CHEEZY, right? (At least you'll have something to talk about with your buddy, as in "OMG this is so cheezy") But do you think it could work for opening channels into other Centers? I had a conversation with the evaluation team about doing what they called an 'overlap analysis,' where everybody fills out a survey and it shows where people are most likely to have overlap in their work, and then voila you know who your new buddy is. I can also see merits to random buddies--then there could be serendipity with combos of programming ideas no one would have ever thought of.

Well that is my take on Extension's 2008 PULSE results. If you'd care to shed any light on any of these issues, just leave a comment or drop me an email! Thanks!

March 8, 2010

Products and Publications

Many questions that educators and specialists have involve creating or managing a product in the Extension Store. Erik Bremer, Neil Anderson, and I have worked to redo the Products and Publications section of the Employee site. We added new information and made things easier (hopefully) to find.

We would really appreciate any feedback! Specifically on:

  1. Info provided about pubs, store, etc.--is anything missing?
  2. What type of efforts would get this info in the hands of potential authors?
Thanks for your thoughts!

January 11, 2010

Goals for a New Year

I spent a little time last week brainstorming some goals for my side of the PRU (resource creation) and I'd LOVE LOVE LOVE your feedback.

Strengthen New Employee Orientation (in conjunction with other units):
  • Online courses for new programmatic staff:
    • Grants curriculum (already have Grantsmanship Fundamentals)
    • Technology Use, University specific (in conjunction with IT)
    • Evaluation Basics
    • Presentation Skills (preparation, organization, powerpoint, audience)
    • Marketing your program

On-the-job opportunities

  • Mentorship program for new employees
  • Cross-capacity 'buddy' program
  • Grantwriting mentor program

'Fingertip' resources (job aids)

  • Is it a grant?
  • How to process a grant
  • Library Use
  • Disaster Response
  • How to create a product
Technology Awareness (in conjunction with OTU)

  • "Extension 2.0 and Beyond!" a new online course building on and updating Extension 2.0
    • Online surveys
    • Social bookmarking
    • Uses of social networking
    • Collaborating with Google tools
    • iTunes U and podcasting
Interpersonal/Personal skills (best delivery method???)

  • Time Management
  • Email Management
  • Team communication
  • Supervisory skills (in conjunction with HR)
  • Hiring and Interviewing
  • Developing clear expectations
  • Motivation
  • Long-distance supervision

Also Informal Communication via:

  • PRU blog
  • PRU podcast (an idea)

July 22, 2009

Workforce Investment Act

Last month Mike and I went to a meeting with Amanda Rondeau and Bob Rubinyi to discuss the Workforce Investment Act (or "WIA"). I had never heard of this and maybe you haven't either. It is a program where people can obtain tuition vouchers as part of a federal act to improve the workforce. Here's a page that explains it better than me:

WIA could be important to Extension because the U has recently been approved to be able to accept these tuition vouchers on eligible programs. Each program must apply individually, though, to be accepted as WIA Certified. The U would like all these applications to originate and funnel through Amanda. As you can read from the page above, the best candidates for acceptance as WIA Certified are programs that end in some type of certificate or licensure.

I am really unsure what this means for Extension programs. Is it a huge opportunity? Or a lot of unnecessary paperwork? What do you think? Any takers?