Rodney the Ram walks with a man and a woman while a crowd of walkers walk behind


Dear Colleagues:

I’m writing to share some exciting new developments in the Great Place: HR Redesign as well as plans for moving forward. As always, I encourage you to track our progress and submit questions and comments online at The comments and questions we receive guide our work and ensure voices from all over the university are heard. Your input is posted, along with a response, so the entire university community can stay informed and up-to-date. As you know, there are several important components for the new HR plan which all work hand-in-hand:

Performance Management
Performance management is something that happens all year long, not just when evaluations are due. We heard from many of you that VCU needs a better process for planning and reviewing our work and for providing feedback. To that end, the Performance Management Committee is designing a new process that includes core VCU competencies (the capabilities we need to be successful in our jobs) and expected behaviors (e.g., customer service, accountability, and respect for others). At this point, we envision a four-stage cycle for performance management that includes clear expectations at the start of the year, feedback throughout the year, a mid-year review, and plans for career development.

Cascading goals
The goals that we set in our performance plans at the start of the year should “cascade” from the university’s mission and vision, through the department’s or school’s strategic priorities, to the daily work of the individual employee. Nearly 500 VCU leaders attended training on how to develop cascading goals. Cascading goals will officially be part of the new performance management process in 2017- 2018, but managers are using the current performance cycle (October 2016-October 2017) to practice developing and using cascading goals.

Technology to support performance management
To better support performance management, VCU is implementing new technology. The new software will help managers and employees work together to set goals and monitor progress throughout the year. The new system improves transparency and keeps employees informed of changing goals, but more importantly, it ensures that employee progress does not go unnoticed. Employees can set up professional profiles that highlight special skills and experience, register for training opportunities, and manage their career development through the software’s Learning Management System (LMS). We will pilot the software with a small group in Spring 2017 and roll it out to the university community in the fall for the 2017-18 performance cycle. We anticipate that training for the new performance management system will take place next summer.

Career Development
In the Great Place Initiative survey, many of you shared the desire to see yourself and your career evolve at VCU. As part of the HR Redesign, Human Resources is creating market-based salary ranges for all university positions, and the Career Development Committee is designing career paths that identify required skills and opportunities for career advancement. Career paths will also offer “promotions in place,” as employees grow in their existing role, as well as a road map of opportunities across the institution. The Committee is designing career tracks for individual contributors with deep subject matter expertise distinct from those who aspire to a supervisory, management or leadership role.

Career communities
The Career Development Committee is also researching how best to design a university mentoring program and “career communities.” Because VCU is a large university, it isn’t always easy for those doing similar work to stay connected. For instance, a technology services professional who works in the School of Business may not meet regularly with the central team in VCU’s Technology Services. Likewise, a communications professional in Student Affairs may not always network regularly with communicators in University Relations. The committee is developing deliberate ways for employees to connect on a regular basis to network, share best practices, and understand strategic university initiatives. The good news is that some groups are already doing this at VCU, and we’re using their work as a model to guide us.

Other Committee Work
The Leadership Development Committee has defined expectations and competencies for university leaders. This foundational work serves as the basis to design a new leadership development curriculum for these challenging and critical roles. Finally, the Policy Committee is busy researching best practices from other universities and employers as they propose new policies around recruitment, compensation, employee relations, leave and other topics that will guide the new HR plan. We look forward to sharing policy drafts with the university community for open comment in early 2017.

The overarching goal of the HR Redesign is to make VCU a great place to work so we can recruit and retain the best talent. I am grateful to the HR Redesign team and committee members for the good work they continue to do. By working together, we can make VCU a great place to do meaningful work and have thriving careers. I continue to pledge transparency throughout this process and I welcome your ideas. As always, I appreciate your support and I look forward to sharing updates about the HR Redesign project as it progresses.

My best,
Cathleen C. Burke
Assistant Vice President for Human Resources
Virginia Commonwealth University