Report Card on Human Resources
External Review Spotlights New Focus on Customer Service, Role of New Director
By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs
A team of experts called in to review Berkeley's Human Resources in January identified several areas of concern for the unit as it seeks to serve the campus more effectivley. These areas include leadership, collaboration and communication, decision making and processes and systems.
The findings were submitted to Horace Mitchell, vice chancellor - Business and Administrative Services, in early March.
The three-member team of human resource experts from UC Santa Cruz, Stanford and Hewlett Packard was asked to assess issues and priorities and provide recommendations for corrective efforts. The reviewers interviewed a broad cross section of staff, faculty and administrators as well as Human Resources staff as part of their research. Mitchell said he supports the team's findings "100 percent."
A slow reclassification process, lack of clarity regarding the responsibilities of Human Resources versus unit level human resource administrators and inefficient incentive pay programs were among the specific problems cited by the team.
The team also found widespread concern over the status and ownership of a new human resources computer system that will streamline many human resource functions. The system, to be implemented over the next 18 months, is similar to the new Berkeley Financial System software and was created by the same company.
According to the report, many of these problems will be solved with the hiring of a new executive director for human resources. Alice Gregory, director of the unit since 1993, stepped down for medical reasons earlier this year. Debra Harrington, manager of labor relations, is serving as interim director.
A search committee chaired by Vice Chancellor Genaro Padilla is conducting a nationwide search for a new director, with the assistance of a private firm. Mitchell said the position should be filled by mid-June.
While Mitchell is committed to fulfilling all the recommendations in the report, he said the new director will decide how these changes should be implemented.
"The executive director will be expected to transform human resources at Berkeley," said Mitchell. "This position is one of the most important central management positions on campus with a broad impact on all departments."
One of the new director's main priorities will be to shift human resources from a "control-focused" unit to one centered around customer service. Another challenge is collaborating with the Office of the President whose "programs and decisions may not be consistent with the direction or specific needs of the university," the report said. Labor contracts and outdated job classifications were two specific examples mentioned.
However, the report warns, "it will take more than the ideal director to make Human Resources optimally effective.... Years of learned behavior will need to be undone."
According to the report, an internal focus on the department, with an emphasis on "defining, communicating and reinforcing new customer-service standards and expectations with Human Resources," should be the first order of business for the new director.