Panelists at the Dec. 14 Employee Development Roundtable included moderator George Irvine of UD’s Professional and Continuing Studies, and Kimberlee Krupa of Siemens Corporation.

Evolution of human resources

Future of organizational development Employee Development Roundtable topic

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3:40 p.m., Jan. 17, 2013--Remember the personnel department? It’s an old fashioned concept now with its focus on record-keeping and employee policies, evolving into “human resources management” in the latter half of the 20th century.

But the future of human resources is also changing. Panelists and attendees at the University of Delaware’s Employee Development Roundtable in December discussed how organizations will develop their employees in the future, how local and global business pressures will affect the field, how technology will change employee development and what organizational development professionals should do now to shape the future. 

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Organizational development and human resource professionals from over 30 regional organizations attended the seventh Employee Development Roundtable held Dec. 14 at UD’s Clayton Hall. Sponsored by the University’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies, UD’s Career Services Center and the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics, the roundtable focused on the future of employee and organizational development and included expert panelists from JPMorgan Chase, Siemens Corporation, Beebe Medical Center and the UD’s Lerner College.

Panelists were Catherine Halen, vice president of human resources at Beebe Medical Center; Kimberlee Krupa, director of talent management at Siemens Corporation; Bejoy Philip, learning and organizational development manager with JPMorgan Chase; and John Sawyer, UD professor of business administration and director of the master’s degree program in organizational effectiveness, development and change.

The panel was moderated by George Irvine, assistant director of organizational learning solutions for UD’s Division of Professional and Continuing Studies.

First and foremost, the panel and participants agreed that the future of employee and organizational development will fall under the heading “talent management” rather than training, learning and development, or human resources. Discussion centered on questions of how organizations should be developing and retaining their current and future leaders, while aligning with larger organizational strategy. 

“Organizational development is successful when it is seen as a business necessity and not just another department within an organization,” observed Halen. “It is most effective when it is offered and embraced at all levels of an organization.”

Roundtable panelists and participants agreed that successful organizational development in the future would:

  • Be driven by, and fundamental to, the success of an organization’s business processes, not just employee development goals;
  • Include managers in the business units as learning agents who will mentor, train and coach employees;
  • Include appropriate technology but be driven by people; 
  • Align with organizational strategy to ensure a seat at the senior leadership table;
  • Have students and employees learn by doing rather than learning and then doing;
  • Prepare employees to be comfortable with the “new normal” for organizations — increased ambiguity and change in their organizations, and a constantly shifting set of organizational priorities;
  • Think globally -- because global issues facing organizations will only increase in the future;
  • Emphasize the development of employees’ interpersonal skills, analytical skills, problem solving skills, systems thinking, resilience, and innovation thinking;
  • Tap talent from outside the organization through productive formal and informal contractual relationships;
  • Flatten the organization to foster innovation, empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Continued Halen, “I think the roundtable provides an excellent opportunity for professionals from the business and the academic community to hear what is happening within organizations of different size, industries and geographical locations. In some cases we are faced with similar challenges and in some cases the challenges may be very different. It provides a great opportunity to learn about new approaches to deal with challenges that we all face.”

“There are important interdependencies between the University and its community,” added UD’s Sawyer, who reported on several Lerner students’ projects completed with local businesses. “These projects are important learning opportunities for the students and provide valuable services to businesses in our community. The greatest impact we can have is to continually enhance our skills and use of evidence-based management practices.”

The roundtable was well-received by participants, many of whom commented about the beneficial insights and ideas they would apply to their organization. As one participant noted, “This discussion prompted me to think about ways my organization can build a culture of innovation and engagement.” Another commented, “I took away many key points such as how to survive in ambiguity, and the future role of organizational development within the organization.”

The next Employee Development Roundtable will be held in late spring. For more information, contact UD’s Professional and Continuing Studies, continuing-ed@UDel.Edu, or 302-831-7600.

Article by George Irvine and Nora Riehl Zelluk

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson

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