As employers grapple with a profound shift in the labor market, one clear approach to retain employees is to offer more training and development opportunities that address employee needs for their future.

In addition to expanding its efforts to attract and retain faculty and staff, Virginia Tech is committed to professional development for current employees.

“The Talent Development team is building and leading initiatives to empower Virginia Tech employees to reach their full potential and develop their careers, making Virginia Tech an even better place to work,” said Bryan Garey, vice president for Human Resources.

The Talent Development team facilitates workshops and learning opportunities to help supervisors and employees build on their existing knowledge, acquire new skills, and further develop their natural abilities, which together create workplace competencies. 

Training for new managers

Fast Track for New Supervisors is a program designed to help new supervisors learn the core competencies of leadership. The program moved from a blended instructor-led format to a self-paced online format during the pandemic.

“I loved the course,” said Brandy Morse, senior manager for finance and operations at the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research in the Department of Mining and Minerals Engineering. “I recommend it to everyone I know.”

While taking the program, she completed real-world assignments with her supervisor and new employees. “The program helped me learn to do staff evaluations,” Morse said. “I learned how important it is to communicate with your people all year.”

By offering these courses, Virginia Tech shows it cares about employees, Morse said. “We’re an institution of higher education, and we are helping employees learn and grow.”

According to Sarah Dreier, talent development specialist, 398 participants have taken the program, 95 of them during fiscal year 2022.

Fast Track Fridays, a monthly meeting with an expert, also is part of the training for new supervisors.  

Developing more effective managers

Professional Development Circles are small, organized groups of managers or supervisors that share knowledge, support one another, build connections, and grow their leadership knowledge and skills. 

“As a new employee, and new to Blacksburg, the Professional Development Circle was a great way to meet people from other parts of the university and get a sense of how the university works,” said Dan Taggart, Human Resources division director for the Office of the President.

“Connecting with people outside my department in a safe environment made it easy for me to ask naïve questions. Each person in the circle usually had a different perspective on the answer, so we all learned from the experience.”

Applications for the 2022-23 Professional Development Circles are being accepted until Aug. 17.

Building Blocks for Managers provides helpful information for managers on topics including: leading yourself and others, communicating with impact, building productive relationships, building an inclusive team, and cultivating business acumen. More than 1,100 managers have accessed these online courses.

Training and resources for all

The newly updated Virtual Learning Center features courses on leading, working, and learning.  During FY22, 2,569 employees accessed LinkedIn Learning courses curated through the Virtual Learning Center.

The quarterly On Topic flyer provides relevant resources and meaningful learning opportunities to faculty and staff. 

Best Practices for Performance Management are live one-hour webinars. Sessions have been held over the summer and continue into the fall.

A key addition

Greg Beecher was named director of talent development, effective July 5.

He has served Virginia Tech for 22 years primarily in Student Affairs, where he most recently served as the Human Resources division director.

Greg has played an important leadership role in advancing efforts in onboarding, recruitment, retention, and employee development,” said Sandee Cheynet, assistant vice president of talent. “His enthusiasm for our Virginia Tech community and background in talent development make him a welcome addition to our team.”

Beecher is passionate about collaborative problem-solving and making connections across the university.

“At my core, I’m interested in helping people grow,” Beecher said. “I want to build on the great work the Talent Development team has already done and continue to invest in people’s lives.”

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