Skip to main content

You may be using a Web browser that does not support standards for accessibility and user interaction. Find out why you should upgrade your browser for a better experience of this and other standards-based sites...

Dartmouth Home  Search  Index

Dartmouth HomeSearchIndex

Dartmouth home page
Administrative Working Groups
Administrative Working Groups Home >  Professional Development >

Professional Development and Training Working Group


In the spring of 2006 President Wright established two working groups to address recommendations made by McKinsey & Co. One of the committees reviewed administrative communication and culture and the other examined hiring and retention issues. Although they worked separately, both committees received significant feedback regarding orientation, training, professional development and advancement opportunities at the College. The following report combines the observations and recommendations made by the two committees.

During open meetings hosted by both committees many employees raised concerns about the lack of sufficient orientation and training for new staff. Employees talked about how long it took in some cases to get to know the campus and the general confusion about where to turn for services and support; they noted the challenges of being new to the community and how long it can take to feel welcome and find individuals with similar interests, backgrounds, or roles.

Employees also raised concerns around the lack of support for ongoing professional development and opportunities for growth and advancement. Although internal candidates fill many positions at the College, a large number of employees mentioned what is perceived to be a glass ceiling in the College, due to a dearth of both professional development opportunities and possibilities for promotion and career advancement. Many felt that internal candidates are disadvantaged in the hiring process and that coming up through the system can work against one’s chances for advancement, i.e., that new hires/externals are advantaged in terms of promotion and in terms of salary. Employees mentioned that there is not always support from managers for training and professional development and that managers are not always equipped to provide advice or guidance regarding career advancement.

In contrast to the results of the recent college-wide employee survey, many staff provided anecdotes suggesting a low level of morale among those who have limited opportunities for growth within Dartmouth, stemming from a number of considerations, including a sense of being undervalued (because of low raises, lack of promotion possibilities) combined with a heavy workload. The long time that it takes to fill vacancies contributes to the morale problem: current staff need to pick up the extra burden and are increasingly overworked. These and other issues related to investing in our employees have led to frustration, feelings of inertia, and of being “stuck” in a job. Sometimes, they have led to the departure of valuable and talented staff.

We need to create a culture in which we communicate with one another with respect and civility; where professional development is valued and encouraged, and available to staff at all levels; and where employees are recognized and rewarded for innovative and creative ideas. We also need to have managers with strong supervisory skills, who are motivators and listeners, and who can guide employees to resources that can help them with skills development and their own professional growth.

Top performing employees need opportunities to renew their skills, learn new ones, and to grow. As an institution we need to invest in our employees by providing opportunities that help staff reach their full potential. Dartmouth should strive for an administrative organization that is energetic, responsive, and creative; that encourages risk-taking and rewards superb performance; and that embraces ongoing development as essential to maintaining a top-performing institution. Finally, we need to consider the development of a range of growth and learning opportunities if we want to encourage and inspire talented and motivated employees to stay.

< Report Contents | Back to Main | Recommendations

Last updated: 01/31/07