!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Chesterfield University

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Chesterfield University

In an unusual move for a local government, Chesterfield County VA decided about five years ago to adopt the corporate university model for its employee training. Since then, Chesterfield University has developed into a central element in the county's strategy for delivering services effectively and efficiently to residents.

Chesterfield County is shown in yellow, to the SW of Richmond

Chesterfield University's curriculum is organized to build eight competencies that internal HR specialists identified as core to meeting the county government's objectives:
  • communication

  • continuous learning

  • leadership

  • planning and organizing

  • interpersonal skills

  • flexibility

  • reasoning

  • customer-focused service
Focus groups of employees from all levels of the county government wrote behavioral definitions for the competencies, with some supplementary input gathered by HR. The definitions cover four levels of employee:
  • frontline

  • supervisor

  • manager

  • executive
Training is delivered in instructor-led sessions, via self-paced print materials, on CD-ROM, and through intranet- and Web-based courses (the latter from SkillSoft).

Among the benefits the county believes it has realized from Chesterfield University are:
  • employee access to an umbrella learning resource

  • tight fit of the training curriculum to county strategic goals and core competencies

  • partnerships with nearby schools and outside training vendors

  • less duplication of training efforts

  • direct involvement of knowledgeable county personnel in creating and delivering training
Chesterfield County's emphasis on organizational learning is something that they clearly believe is delivering results for them. However, the FY06-FY08 plan for Chesterfield University indicates that measurement of training effectiveness (aside from course evaluations by participants) is only now getting close attention. Interested observers will have to wait to see what this planned measurement effort produces.

In the meantime, a 2004 citizen survey shows general improvement in satisfaction scores between 2001, just prior to creation of Chesterfield University, and 2004, when Chesterfield University had been in operation for about two years. For example, as shown in the chart below, the percent responding Very Satisfied or Satisfied to the question
Taking into consideration the services provided by Chesterfield Couny, how satisfied would you say you are with the value of services provided relative to taxes paid?
rose from 50.0% in 2001 to 83.8% in 2004.

Click on image to enlarge


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