Employee Mentor Program
Develop an Orientation Program for All New Employees
(Vital Quality Initiative)
Current Facilitators: Eddie Elfers, Jean Blomenkamp
February 15-16, 2001 - AQIP Retreat
Project identified and prioritized
March 14, 2001 - AQIP Retreat Follow-Up Meeting
Council members assigned to project: Eddie Elfers, Jean Blomenkamp
September 21, 2001 - AQIP Meeting
Status report given: Eddie reports that he has had some informal discussions with several first- and second-year faculty members. These discussions have given him some ideas as to how we might begin to develop an orientation/mentor program. One major weakness, he admits, is that these discussions have dealt only with faculty, not with other college employees. The faculty members with whom he spoke said that the current efforts (new faculty luncheon and tour) are helpful, but almost "too much too soon." They are unable to process the information before the semester begins, and for the first few weeks they are too busy with their classes to think about the information they received. Faculty members starting this year also said they valued the computer and library orientations that were offered but, again, once the semester began they were often at a loss when questions or problems arose, not knowing whom to call. Several said they had struck up mentor relationships on their own with faculty who teach in their academic areas. Those relationships, they said, helped them find answers to many of their questions and solutions to many of their problems (not always the right answer or solution, one added). Eddie would like to start putting together a survey for all new (or maybe even all recent) employees, asking them about their experiences so far - what they know, what they don't know, what's been their biggest challenge. Eddie would like the council's input to help develop a survey that will allow us to assess the needs of all our employees, in the hope that any information gathered will assist in the development of an orientation/mentor program for all new employees. Eddie and Jean have put together some useful information regarding mentoring, namely areas in which mentoring might be needed. Again, these areas pertain mostly to faculty, but should be able to adjust to include the needs of all employees. Some of the needs Eddie and Jean listed are: (1) Instruction - starting a new class, creating syllabi, methods of delivery, student motivation; (2) System - procedures and guidelines at WSC; (3) Managerial/Organizational - how to balance teaching, advising, committee work, research, service; (4) Emotional/Personal - new environment, change, collegiality; (5) Resources - books, copies, course materials, equipment; (6) Professional Development - tenure, promotion, travel, teaching, advising, committee work, research, service.
This was not one of the suggestions at the opening faculty meeting. The kind of training needs could range from dealing with hazardous materials to computer training. One council member suggested training on how to establish their own web page. The best way to find out what training needs are desired is to develop some sort of a questionnaire. This could be an open-ended-type questionnaire or could use the bubble format and then be scanned for results. This could be sent to faculty/staff who have been here one to two years. The questionnaire should maybe be split in half with one half pertaining to faculty with one or two years employment at WSC and the other half to employees who have been at WSC more than two years. In regard to assessing employee satisfaction, we need to ask what level of overall satisfaction they currently have and then what it is they are satisfied with or are not satisfied with.
In talking about the mentor program, it would be nice if some sort of community time could be arranged. Where say on a Wednesday morning, a senior faculty member could invite a new faculty member to go to coffee at the student center. Someone suggested we have a community time over the lunch hour. Someone suggested informal discussions about various topics, such as unusual situations and how to deal with them. This would give everyone a sense of community. Maybe each department could give new faculty a standardized folder explaining syllabi, copy card, classroom etiquette, etc. When talking about faculty mentors, a new faculty member could maybe have two mentors, possibly one as a "systems" mentor within their department who could give them info like what is needed now, then maybe a timeline for tenure application, a rank promotion "road map," etc., also when and how to order textbooks, maybe even what they can or can't say "no" to, and how to balance everything they are having to deal with. Then there could be a different person acting as a mentor for the "instructional" part, to include all aspects of teaching.
Professional and support staff needs were also discussed. We could ask for a list of volunteers who would like to be partnered with a new employee. That person maybe wouldn't act so much as a "mentor" but as someone this new employee could call and ask questions of. Also, a packet of information, similar to what is compiled for the opening employee meeting in the fall, could be given to a new staff person when they come on board. A lot of the information that we would include in this packet has already been developed, we would just need to gather all the different pieces of information to put in this folder.
Council members were asked to e-mail Eddie with their comments or suggestions.