Performance Consulting and Training Report

Project Sponsor: Joan F. Rice, V.P. for Human Resources

The HRPD Core Team

Patricia A. Brady, Project Director, Team Leader
Maureen Bednarek, Personnel Department
Mark Cason-Snow, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, mediation@mit
Melissa Damon, Personnel Department*
Margaret Ann Gray, Personnel Department (Performance Consulting and Training)
Alyce Johnson, Personnel Department
Peter Narbonne Student Financial Aid Services*
Steven Wade Neiterman, Information Systems*
Barbara Peacock-Coady, School of Engineering
Affiliates: Daniela Aivazian, Information Systems, Researcher, Analyst*
Cynthia Vallino, Personnel Department *

The Performance Consulting and Training Project Team (Personnel Department)

Robin Carleton, Facility Administrator
Francine Crystal, Performance Consultant
Jim Dezieck, Performance Consultant
Margaret Ann Gray, Team Leader
Diana Haladay, Performance Consultant
Ken Hewitt III, Administrative Assistant
Linda Olson, Administrative Assistant
Jeff Pankin, Performance Consultant
Ronnie Beth Rump, Performance Consultant
Michael Taub, Performance Consultant
Susan Ziemba, Instructional Course Designer

* Term of appointment shorter than full term of the project.


Team Members
The Role of Performance Consulting
The History of the Performance Consulting and Training Team
The Operation of the Performance Consulting and Training Team
Consulting Work
Training and Development Activities

A Special Note About This Report
Due to its integral relationship with the Human Resource Design/Development teams, the Performance Consulting and Training Team (PC&T) is issuing this report in conjunction with HRPD’s recommendations for an integrated system of human resource practices for MIT.  This report contains information about PC&T’s history and operation, its clients and major projects and its training and development activities.

Performance Consulting & Training

Why Performance Consulting

In their groundbreaking publication, Performance Consulting, Dana Gaines Robinson and James C. Robinson note, “The purpose and focus of the (Performance Consultant) role is to partner with management to identify and achieve performance excellence.”  They add that “solutions to problems are like keys and locks; they don’t work if they don’t fit.  And if solutions aren’t the right ones, the problems don’t get solved.”

The performance consulting process helps provide organizations with a set of “keys” for some of the “locks” that challenge them in today’s environment.

The need for cost effective internal performance consulting at MIT is apparent in light of various external and internal pressures the Institute is facing.  Government support for research is shifting, resources are limited, various “customers” have higher expectations for quality service, MIT’s financial system is changing, and diversity among students and staff must continue to build.  The evolution of the Performance Consulting & Training team (PC&T) is an outgrowth of the need to meet new challenges in new ways.

At MIT, performance consulting involves working collaboratively with departments, laboratories, centers, and offices to develop and achieve performance excellence.  Employing a combination of skills, performance consultants (PCs) help clients realize desired outcomes.

PC&T selected MIT’s performance consultants because they share a strong background--both in practical experience and in education--in organization development (OD).  OD is a planned systemic change process that uses specific principles, theories, and practices to achieve greater organizational performance and effectiveness.  The OD process begins with a diagnosis and is then implemented by using a variety of interventions to achieve improvements, find solutions, solve problems, and reach goals.

Performance consultants are not human resource generalists.  Whereas the HR generalist supports the broad human resource needs of individuals and their departments in the context of fair policies and practices for all, the PC focuses on helping organizations find systemic-based performance solutions that advance business goals.

The Institute’s PCs work with those areas requesting their services.  Bringing OD techniques, tools, and strategies to the leadership of these areas, the PCs help each client create and implement strategies for change that fit that area’s own vision and needs.  Because the PCs are not part of the areas they serve, they bring a different perspective that can be useful to their clients.

Viewing performance consulting as a way to provide “keys” to some of the more problematic “locks” in today’s changing work environment, Robinson and Robinson outline the following characteristics of performance consulting:

  • identifying strategies and recommendations directly linked to organizational and business goals
  • contracting with leadership to take the actions needed to support improved and/or different performance, including organization development and human resource development
  • working in a consultative manner to become a valued business partner
  • transitioning a focus on training to a focus on performance improvement.
The Performance Consulting & Training team has adapted these strategies in their work with the clients they serve.  The outcomes to date are described in various sections of this report.

PC&T’s Mission and Services

PC&T’s mission is to work with departments, laboratories, centers, and offices to enhance their abilities to achieve business goals.

Among the services the team provides are:

  • needs assessment
  • planning and measurement
  • process improvement
  • team development
  • custom-designed training
  • meeting  facilitation
  • coaching
  • resource referrals
  • conducive learning environment.
History and Background Information

The Performance Consulting & Training (PC&T) team officially began in January 1997.

Prior to that, MIT had a Training & Development (T&D) planning team.  This cross-functional team formed in January 1995 to help support major change efforts at MIT.  Original T&D team members were Rob Clark, Jr., Jennifer Dowling Dougherty, Margaret Ann Gray (team leader), Jeff Pankin, and Michael Taub; John Squillante and Kip Warren later joined the team.   All were loaned from their departments to work part-time on the team.

The team’s original charter focused primarily on training-related issues in support of MIT’s reengineering efforts.  That charter was “to provide the MIT community with a comprehensive, practical, and accessible training and development program that will enable people to work more effectively and efficiently within MIT’s redesigned environment, help ensure successful implementation of the reengineering efforts, and support MIT’s human resource principles.”

Some of the T&D planning team’s major accomplishments during 1995 and 1996 are:

  • helped the various redesign teams forecast and plan for the employee training programs their changes would require
  • determined the space needs for training, located a building to become MIT’s Professional Learning Center (W89 at 301 Vassar Street), oversaw its renovation, stipulated its furnishings and equipment, and hired its staff
  • implemented a variety of campus-wide courses to support the MIT human resource principles (examples include courses about managing change, giving performance appraisals, receiving performance appraisals, and building high performing teams)
  • initiated a train-the-trainer process for delivering courses to large numbers of people
  • established quality standards for training, and stipulated critical success factors
  • created a vendor selection process to choose outside trainers and/or training organizations
  • recommended an evolution for an integrated system of human resource practices, including training, for the Institute (this recommendation led to the Steering Committee chartering the Human Resource Practices Design team).
As the Training & Development planning team worked to support various redesign efforts and began a number of training programs, it started to focus on what the training function should look like longer-term for the Institute.

The team studied organizations cited for effective training (including universities, hospitals, organizations in which research is a major component, and service organizations).  They read articles in journals and periodicals, conducted telephone interviews with individuals from some of the various organizations, contacted leaders from the American Society for Training & Development, and searched for information on the World Wide Web.

This review of best practices reaffirmed that training does not function in a vacuum in highly effective organizations.  It works best when it is part of a larger, well-integrated system of human resource practices.

As a result, the Training & Development planning team specifically recommended that the MIT Steering Committee charter a team to focus on such practices.  Due to this recommendation and other driving factors within MIT, the Steering Committee chartered the Human Resource Practices Design (HRPD) team.

Two members of the Training & Development planning team served on HRPD, which delivered its final report in October of 1996.  Between October 1996 and December 1996, the T&D planning team began working on those HRPD recommendations for which it expected to become responsible.

The T&D planning team’s research led to the recommendation that MIT provide cost effective internal performance consulting as well as professional development training.  Thus the T&D team became the Performance Consulting & Training team and began working operationally in January 1997.

To develop further the HRPD’s various recommendations, the Steering Committee launched the Human Resource Practices Development team (also known as HRPD) in February 1997.  PC&T’s team leader remained an active member of the development team.  This team served as a research and development arm for the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources by developing and piloting a system of practices specified in the design team’s recommendations.

As HRPD’s project teams were formed, the Performance Consulting & Training team sponsored two of them: the Orientation and the Training Policies & Administration teams, which issued their reports in July 1998.

One of PC&T’s tasks was to find highly experienced consultants, an instructional course designer, and an administrative assistant to join the team.

The team wanted an effective process to assemble a talented group of individuals well suited for the work that had emerged.  The team also wanted to pilot some of HRPD’s recommendations.  Thus, using a tool called the expert panel method, the team built competency models for the positions of Performance Consultant and Instructional Course Designer.  Appendix I contains a detailed list of responsibilities, skills, and competencies for these positions.

The team initiated a two-stage interview process after studying the applicants’ resumes to narrow the list of candidates.

Stage One:

Two team members co-led the interview and, using competency-based selection techniques, determined how well the individual matched the competency model.  The candidate also gave a short, ten-minute presentation.  The interviewers then decided whether the person would advance to the second stage.

Stage Two:

This stage consisted of three one-hour segments.  First, the team leader met with the candidate for a one-on-one interview.  Second, the candidate met with all the team members together to ask and answer questions.  And third, the candidate facilitated a mock meeting (the context was provided one week prior to this stage).  Team members roleplayed specific parts during the meeting while the facilitator helped the group come to a decision.  PC&T invited some of its clients to observe the meeting and provide feedback to the team about how well the candidate performed.

Although the hiring process was lengthy, it was successful.  One Performance Consultant (Jim Dezieck) and one Instructional Course Designer (Susan Ziemba) joined the team in July 1997.

PC&T repeated this process six months later to generate another pool of applicants.  It selected three Performance Consultants (Francine Crystal, Diana Haladay, and Ronnie Beth Rump) to join the team.  In addition, using an abbreviated hiring process, the team added a new Administrative Assistant (Robin Carleton), who has since been promoted the Facility Administrator for the MIT Professional Learning Center.  Linda Olson later joined the team as a part-time Administrative Assistant.

PC&T’s System

The PC&T team takes a systemic approach with its clients; therefore, it is fitting that PC&T have a well-defined system for itself.  This section describes that system and elaborates on two parts:  its methodology for serving clients and the use of the balanced scorecard to measure its impact and effectiveness.

When PC&T became operational in January 1997, it immediately began to build an infrastructure for its work.  Rather than operating as a collection of independent consultants, the team wanted a unified approach to leverage individual strengths, provide consistency of practice to clients, and focus on clear outcomes for the Institute.

Figure 1 (click here) provides a useful roadmap for understanding the overall integration of PC&T’s system described in this section.

Vision and Mission

The internal system begins with the vision and mission.  The mission, developed during the transition from T&D to PC&T, continues to guide the team.  The team updated its vision, which focuses on the future, when much of it was realized through the establishment of PC&T and the MIT Professional Learning Center.  The new vision recognizes the intended positive impact for clients/MIT as well as the team’s aspiration to be recognized as a best practice organization for this type of work by other universities, research organizations, and businesses.

Strategic Priorities

The team’s vision and mission are the basis for determining strategic priorities.  In this process, the team looks at the relationship between the vision and mission, the requests for its services, and other initiatives within the Institute to which PC&T might contribute. The team applies specific criteria to potential projects to determine which would be the best use of its resources.
Once the strategic priorities are set, the team relies on three sets of tools for completing their work:  the PC Project Methodology; PC&T Metrics; and PC&T Competencies.  These tools provide the team a consistent yet flexible framework for meeting its customers’ varied needs while maintaining high performance standards.

PC Project Methodology

The PC project methodology ensures that any project, large or small, receives the same high quality approach.  The methodology highlights the importance of explicit contracting with clients, sufficient information gathering, and measurable results.  It also provides an assortment of models, approaches, and exercises to use with clients in designing customized solutions.   Founded in best practices, the methodology has been customized to address MIT’s organizational culture, strategic directions, client needs, and available resources.
The PC project methodology, provided as a working document in Appendix II of this report, moves sequentially through a series of steps from initial contact with the client to project completion.  These steps include:

Step 1:  Client Intake

When a client requests PC&T’s services, the PC&T team leader assigns it to a Performance Consultant who holds an initial conversation with the client and conducts a preliminary review of existing data.  The purpose of the intake step is to be clear about the client’s desired outcomes, strategic priorities, current gaps in performance, and other information to determine the appropriateness of providing service.

The PC then identifies the preliminary project scope and evaluates it against a pre-determined set of criteria and/or strategic priorities for accepting new work.  The team decides either to allocate PC&T resources or to make a referral to other resources inside or outside the Institute.

Step 2:  Information Gathering with Client and Initial Metrics

If it is appropriate for PC&T to provide service, the PC, with the client, reviews the scope of PC&T’s involvement and defines the information gathering process.  This background information, which may come from interviews, surveys, focus groups, applicable data, and other resources, assures that the PC and the client do an appropriate analysis before taking action.

After the information, including measurable key performance indicators, is gathered and analyzed, the PC discusses the findings with the client.  Then after confirming the client’s desire to move forward, the PC and client discuss possible project actions and agree upon next steps.

Step 3:  Planning and Implementation

The PC writes a project plan that defines the scope, desired outcomes of the project, the stakeholders, intervention options, tasks and responsibilities, measurements, timetable or milestones, and contingency plans.  Once the client accepts the written project plan, the client and the PC collaborate on putting it into place.  In general, this step includes implementing, monitoring, and adapting the plan as needed, as well as conducting periodic review meetings as appropriate.

Step 4:  Follow-up

The PC uses pre/post implementation analysis to create a summary report, including recommendations and lessons learned, which he/she gives to the client for feedback.

The PC also works with the client to provide recognition and rewards for all involved in the project and to plan next steps (if any).

The Performance Consultants use the toolkit in Appendix II when implementing these four steps.  The toolkit helps define, assess, plan, implement, and measure various consulting opportunities with clients.

The bibliography in Appendix IV contains some of the many resources the Performance Consultants use to develop their abilities and to work with clients.

PC&T Metrics

PC&T uses metrics to be certain it is helping clients to accomplish specified objectives.  These metrics can then be used to aggregate the impact of the team’s work across the Institute.  The team also uses metrics to measure results for the MIT Professional Learning Center, for PC&T’s in-team objectives, and for the professional development courses it offers.   It defines its metrics using the balanced scorecard approach explained later in this section.

PC&T Competencies

The PC&T Competencies in Appendix I represent most of the skills, knowledge, and behavioral competencies the team brings to each client situation.

Performance Management

As Figure 1 shows, these three sets of tools (methodology, metrics, and competencies) are the basis for the team’s own performance management process.  This ongoing process includes assessing performance, providing feedback, setting goals, coaching, developing and implementing learning plans, providing recognition and rewards, planning work, and developing competencies.   The performance management process guides the team leader as she works with the team and its individuals.


The methodology, metrics, and competencies, as supported by performance management, drive the overall results of PC&T’s efforts.  The balanced scorecard approach the team uses to measure its results has three main categories: customer satisfaction and impact, operational effectiveness (including costs), and in-team effectiveness.  The team adapted this approach from the work of Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton, who developed the balanced scorecard concept, and that of George L. Morrisey in his three-book series called Morrisey on Planning.

Customer Satisfaction and Impact:

For customer satisfaction and impact, the team measures both its consulting work and its training programs.

PC&T’s primary purpose is to provide value to its customers through consulting. The measures that it uses for its consulting work are, in fact, developed with each client because the focus is on the specific changes and improvements the client wishes to make.  Examples of results are in the Consulting section of this report; summaries of others are in Appendix II.

In addition, the team provides a variety of training programs for MIT employees through its course catalog, often called the “Yellow Book.”   The fall 1998 Yellow Book is in Appendix III.  Current courses are on the Web <>.

For each training program, the team measures two to three levels:

Level I:  Whether the participants liked the class

Appendix III contains the form most often used for Level I.  The instructors, the course registrar, and the team leader study and discuss this feedback to decide how to improve the courses.

Level II:  What the participants learned

When measuring this level, the methods vary from course to course, but they often involve some sort of pre- and post-activity to demonstrate that the participants learned new content.

Level III:  Whether the learning enabled the participants to do new or different behavior on the job

To support Level III, many instructors use the Course Action Plan.  This form and its instructions are also in Appendix III.

Some courses, however, include a worksheet specifically designed for that course.  Such worksheets enable the participants to plan how they are going to use their new knowledge in their work.

Operational Effectiveness:

If used wisely, organization development and training are strategic investments in people and processes.  PC&T’s services are not charged back to its clients; MIT makes the investment in them.  PC&T’s costs are lower than what they would be for MIT to hire outside vendors for similar services.

 To measure operational effectiveness, the team focuses on four items:

The First Metric:  the cost for participants’ training hours internally vs. the equivalent externally

Using actual costs during calendar year 1998 (including PCs’ salaries and benefits, classroom space, materials, equipment, telephone services, support staff, etc.), the cost per Yellow Book course participant was approximately $30 per hour.  The cost to send one person to comparable outside professional development courses ranges widely, but in the Boston area the per hour average is around $70.

The Second Metric:  the cost of the delivery of consulting services internally vs. the delivery from external consultants

Using actual costs for the 1998 calendar year (including salaries and benefits, the operating costs for W89, equipment, telephone services, support staff, etc.), the cost per hour for one PC’s services is approximately $75.  In the Boston area, the cost for an external consultant ranges widely, but for similar work is between $200 and $400 per hour.

The Third Metric:  the cost per hour to use a classroom in the MIT Professional Learning Center (W89) vs. the cost per hour to rent similar classroom space elsewhere

Using actual operating costs for W89 for the 1998 calendar year, the cost per hour per room on available business days was $9.13.  In the Boston area, the charge for similar classroom space averages $52.77 per hour.

The Fourth Metric:  the usage of classrooms in the MIT Professional Learning Center (W89)

The MIT Professional Learning Center hosts a wide range of courses, including those offered by Information Systems Training Services, Management Reporting (SAP), the Personnel Office, and others.  Currently W89 is underutilized.  Staff at the Professional Learning Center are developing a plan to increase its usage and maintain quality service.  The W89 annual report, with specific details about usage of the technical and professional development classrooms, is in Appendix III.

PC&T Team Effectiveness:

The team also applies measurement to its own internal practices and processes (e.g., meeting effectiveness, team learning, team leadership, etc.).   It sets goals to improve how well it functions.  It uses performance appraisal as a planning tool as well as a way to review team members’ performance.  Input from clients and fellow team members is always incorporated into any review.

Performance Consulting

This section contains six case examples of PC&T’s work with specific clients.  These cases demonstrate the range and the nature of performance consulting work.  PC&T’s work includes large-scale organization development and change, organizational design and strategic planning, developing work groups, implementing improvements, assessing and coaching, and developing and delivering customized courses.

The PC often serves as a neutral facilitator who helps the organization find its own solutions.  The cases in this section demonstrate that essential quality.  This section also illustrates the many other roles of the PCs.  These roles are often explicit and negotiated with their clients.

PCs do not act on the behalf of or in the place of the organization’s management, and they do not make or enforce policy.   In fact, they have no real power in the organization.  They do, however, establish a collaborative relationship with their clients.  They share their expertise in organization development, teambuilding, communications, and behavioral competencies.  It is through this collaboration that they help their clients find solutions.

For this section of this report, the PC who served as the lead consultant wrote his/her case.  There is also a case from the Instructional Course Designer about customized course development.   Each case contains the impetus for the work, the roles the consultant performed, the process he/she used, and how he/she made a difference.

Summaries of work with additional clients are in Appendix II.

Case One:  Public Services Units at the MIT Libraries
Performance Consultant:  Diana J. Haladay

The need and/or background information

To maintain its status as a world-class library for a world-class Institute, MIT Libraries' Public Services Units decided that 1998 would be the "year of reinventing itself."  They wanted to redefine their roles and responsibilities, reconsider their organizational structure, and make strategic decisions about their future.

To accomplish these goals, the Public Services Units, under the direction of Ginny Steel, undertook the Public Services Redefinition Initiative (PSRI) to:

  • create a direction and vision to maximize limited resources and provide the best possible range of services
  • create a work climate to encourage creativity, innovation, flexibility, tolerance for ambiguity, and risk-taking
  • provide library staff with an opportunity to participate in creating the future of the Public Services Units
  • include professional development and training opportunities for the staff.
The redefinition process ran from January through December 1998. The implementation process will run from January through December 1999.

The Performance Consulting & Training Team (PC&T) was asked to help kick off the PSRI by providing training in creative thinking skills.  When the Instructional Course Designer (ICD) for PC&T met with Ginny Steel, Director of Public Services, to discuss training needs, the ICD suggested that the Libraries might also benefit from having a Performance Consultant work with them in designing and implementing the PSRI.  PC&T’s team leader and I met twice with Ginny to discuss her consulting needs.  Following these initial meetings, I became the primary PC  for the initiative.

The performance consulting role

As the Performance Consultant for the PSRI, I had two primary roles.  The first was to act as executive coach and consultant for Ginny Steel.  I met with her weekly to evaluate the progress of the PSRI and to do some strategic planning.

The second role was to serve as consultant to the six task forces in Phase I of the PSRI.  The task forces that carried out the redefinition process were:

  • Redefinition Process Communication:  act as a link between the task forces and the Libraries as a whole by keeping everyone informed of the PSRI progress throughout the first year
  • Public Service Values:  gather input from various stakeholders and produce a statement of the organization’s values
  • Service Priorities:  determine the priorities for service with input from others
  • Organizational Issues:  generate a list of major organizational and structural issues and review the effectiveness of the structure
  • Performance Measurement:  review current practices for measuring organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and recommend a methodology to assess performance based on the results of the redefinition process
  • Internal Communications:  gather feedback and ideas from Public Services staff on ways to manage timely and effective communication among the various units to enhance their ability to share information.
The performance consulting process

I worked primarily with the task force co-convenors to coach and advise them on planning and managing their projects.  I used the following process with each task force:

  • met with co-convenors to plan the first meeting with the task force
  • facilitated the beginning meetings to introduce process tools and teambuilding activities; facilitated all or parts of other meetings as requested
  • met with co-convenors on a weekly basis to coach on leadership issues, review progress of the task force, and plan for upcoming meetings
  • worked with sub-groups and individual team members on request (facilitated meetings, coached, recommended tools, etc.)
  • provided training on decision making, consensus building, and other skills
  • facilitated the design meetings for final recommendations
  • coached co-convenors on presenting their recommendations to the Libraries’ Steering Committee and at the Libraries’ town meetings.
How PC&T made a difference

PC&T added value to the PSRI in three primary areas:

Process:  My primary purpose in working with the task forces and Ginny Steel was to give them a process and the appropriate tools for reaching their objectives.  This included project planning, decision-making, meeting management, process mapping, and team development.  Several co-convenors have indicated that my involvement was essential to the success of their task forces because it provided focus and demonstrated the need for process.

Leadership Development and Coaching:  Being part of a task force provided members with an opportunity to develop leadership capabilities.  I met weekly with the co-convenors and Ginny to help them plan strategically.  Ginny observed that my view as a neutral outside observer gave her and her staff an additional helpful perspective.  I also provided the co-convenors individualized coaching on their leadership styles.  Co-convenors have stated that the value I added in this area includes helping them move the group toward effective results and consensus, understanding undercurrents, enabling creative group processes, and providing structure.  I am told I also helped at least one co-convenor gain a renewed sense of confidence in leading and working with a group of people.

Creative and Innovative Solutions:  The training in creative thinking skills gave the task forces permission to “think out of the box” and develop new and creative business solutions.  In my role as coach and consultant, I kept pushing the edge, encouraging the task forces to be creative.  And they did, time after time.   Some of their solutions include:

  • “The Lowdown”  -- a regular Web newsletter about the PSRI
  • Integrated Service Point -- a centralized service point in each divisional library designed to promote unified, complementary, enhanced services
  • Town Meetings  -- a forum created to disperse information to all Libraries staff and generate immediate feedback and participation
  • Redesign of Public Service Library Management Structure  -- a more user-focused model for library management
  • Web Discussion Forms  -- a vehicle for gathering information about the PSRI, which will continue to be used for on-going projects
  • Performance Measurement Program – methods to improve services, address issues, and increase customer satisfaction
  • Library Communications Model – a system to provide the MIT Libraries with both formal and informal communication channels through the use of multiple communication formats.
Case Two:  ODSUE”S Administrative Team
Performance Consulting:  Francine Crystal

The need and/or background information

The Dean for the newly formed Office of Undergraduate and Student Affairs, Rosalind Williams, had just named the members of her Administrative Team and asked me to assist her with facilitating their meetings.  She and I met before each meeting and planned the agenda.  During the meetings, we took turns leading the discussion, depending on the topic and the role Dean Williams wished to have.

After about a month, Dean Williams asked the Administrative Team to take on the project of designing a more cohesive, effective administrative structure for the newly combined ODSUE.

PC&T’s role

Dean Williams asked me to facilitate this project.  I worked with her to develop the charge for the team’s work and served as a primary communications link between her and the Administrative Team.

Throughout the project, my primary role was to facilitate the team meetings.  This included clarifying the agenda, looking for agreements, moving the conversation along, and, when appropriate, providing “devil’s advocate” views to ensure that the team was considering all possibilities.

Another key role was to maintain the team’s morale.  This included teambuilding exercises and explicit acknowledgement of accomplishments, particularly in the face of obstacles.

The performance consulting process

My responsibility during the project was to ensure that the team accomplished its goals.  To that end, I initially concentrated on giving the group members opportunities to get to know each other differently and to develop camaraderie and trust.  I helped the team identify specific practices to become more effective.  We evaluated each meeting against those practices as well as against the planned agenda.

I introduced a model for understanding the phases of a project of this nature.  Using this framework, I guided the team through the five-phase process ensuring that they didn’t miss any critical steps along the way.

  • Scope and Design:  We developed a workplan and timeline, identified stakeholders, and clarified the charge to the team.
  • Problem Identification:  During this major research phase of the project, all ODSUE Office Heads were interviewed and data was collected from across the Institute.
  • Vision:  I facilitated a session to engage all ODSUE Office Heads in imagining the ODSUE of the future.  This exercise resulted in language to be used to evaluate the impact of the Administrative Team’s recommendations.  The exercise also served to bring the Office Heads together for a broader and more inspiring look at where they want to bring ODSUE.  This exercise also led to an Office Heads’ retreat, which furthered many of the themes.
  • Solution:  Each member of the Administrative Team had primary responsibility for bringing possible solutions related to their areas of expertise to the full team for review and discussion.   The team carefully reviewed these recommendations and their impact; it then developed a plan of action.
  • Implementation:  After consultation with the Dean, the Administrative Team presented its recommendations to the full Office Heads group through a series of meetings.  The implementation is ongoing.
How PC&T made a difference

The outcome of the project is that the team members developed proposals for redesigning the administrative operations for ODSUE.  These addressed fiscal, space, communications, human resource, and information technology needs.  All of their proposals received the support of the Dean and are in the process of implementation.  Most significantly, the fiscal proposal called for the beginning of a coordinated budget planning process, which ODSUE started prior to the Institute-wide decision to begin a similar process.

The Dean and team members have reported their belief that this process would not have been completed without my assistance.

Case Three:  The SAP School Coordinators
Performance Consultant:  Jim Dezieck

The need and/or background information

In December 1997, Management Reporting and the Assistant Provost with the Assistant Deans decided to establish the SAP School Coordinator (SC) team, a three-to-five-person team knowledgeable in the business of departments, laboratories, and centers (DLCs).  This team would help the DLCs implement SAP and develop business processes related to its implementation.

Two School Coordinators (SCs) were hired in January 1998, and by October the SC team had reached its full complement.  During that time the SCs joined Management Reporting’s five-milestone implementation process and contributed most notably to the “setting up” (part of Milestone 3) and the “going live” (part of Milestone 4) steps in putting SAP into place.

The formation of this new team whose core mission was to build a bridge between the areas represented by its co-sponsors led to the request for independent support for this team from PC&T.

PC&T’s role

Initially I was asked to provide team development support for the new team.  Upon further discussion it was apparent that two additional roles were also warranted and consistent with PC&T’s charter with the co-sponsors. The first added role was that of integrating the SC team with its co-sponsors. The second was to support the development of SCs as middle people helping to implement change.

The performance consulting process

PC&T joined this effort at the beginning of the hiring process, and I took on several responsibilities related to the SC team:

  • participated with Management Reporting, DLC representatives, and central administration representatives in developing the competency model for the SC position
  • worked with Management Reporting Project Director Katie Cochrane and Assistant Provost Doreen Morris to build agreements for effectively guiding the SC team, including performance management,  compensation, and other management responsibilities
  • facilitated a dialogue to provide mutual understanding and agreement regarding the SCs’ priorities, and facilitated a series of meetings to provide a forum for building agreements on those subjects critical to the team’s development and performance
  • facilitated team development for the SC team to help establish and develop its internal workings and relationships
  • provided ongoing consulting and coaching as specific concerns arose, including consulting on orientation guidelines for new staff, responding effectively to the introduction of the incentive program, and increasing customer satisfaction
  • provided training and consulting support to the School Coordinators to help them develop their role, including  developing tools and skills to diagnose readiness for change and to cultivate agreement.
How PC&T made a difference

The SC team and its co-sponsors benefited from the services of a Performance Consultant in several ways.

  • I supported the development of a reporting structure for the SC team that blended self-management with co-sponsor guidance.
  • I guided the initial SC team in establishing a foundation for working together.
  • I encouraged the co-sponsors’ shared guidance of the SC team by asking for regular meetings of the team with both its co-sponsors; I also facilitated those meetings.
Case Four:  The Working Group on Support Staff Issues
Performance Consultant:  Ronnie Beth Rump

The need and/or background information

The co-conveners of the Working Group on Support Staff Issues approached the PC&T team leader in January 1997 and expressed a need to refocus the group’s energies.

As stated on its Website, “The Working Group was formed in 1975 to provide a voice for support staff concerns.”  All members convene monthly during the academic year, and various smaller task groups meet on an as-needed basis to accomplish their work.  The task groups address issues that concern MIT support staff.  They conduct research, offer recommendations to the appropriate leadership, follow-up concerning implementation, and communicate results to support staff.  Over the past 23 years, the group has played a role in the Artist-Behind-the-Desk series, domestic partner benefits, the retirement program, the support staff classification system and a number of other important issues.  Two co-conveners, who serve overlapping two-year terms, provide leadership.

As is often the case with long-established organizations, a core of committed members is consistently called upon to ensure quality work and guidance.  Just as often, as those members complete major projects, they may need to take a “sabbatical” from the organization.  Occasionally, after a major commitment, the organization itself may need regeneration.

The co-convenors were looking for a way to revitalize the organization, its commitment, membership ranks, and meeting attendance.  They decided the Working Group would spend the 1998 spring semester identifying and refining the mission, reviewing and revising the membership guidelines, and revisiting the task group concepts and assignments. Their goal was to open the fall 1998 term with a dynamic, vital organization full of renewed focus and increased membership.

PC&T’s role

While working with this group, I wore four different hats:  Thinking Partner,  Facilitator, Educator, and Coach.

As a thinking partner with the co-conveners, task group chairs, and general membership, I helped the various groups grapple with the concept of change.  I was available either in person or through e-mail to talk about a renewed organization.  I worked with the co-conveners to structure the spring semester’s meetings to ensure success.

As a facilitator, I helped task group members bring together their ideas and also incorporated ideas from the general membership.  I facilitated the process of gathering information at the monthly meetings, and I coached the facilitators of small groups involved in this activity.

As an educator, I brought best practice information and concepts to the membership as they worked through the issues before them.  I provided short sessions on vision and mission, group dynamics, building an organization, and other topics to provide a framework with which to proceed.

As a coach to the co-conveners, I help them prepare for the various meetings by scripting dialog, role-playing difficult situations, providing feedback, and helping them to work better with each other.

The performance consulting process

I used several processes in this project:  needs assessment, planning,  measurement, small group facilitation, custom-designed work, meeting facilitation, and coaching.

I led a needs assessment early in the semester to help the co-conveners focus on how to accomplish their goals.  We involved the membership through the use of custom-designed small group exercises in an effort to construct the Working Group’s mission, designate membership factors, and create guidelines for task groups.

I used custom-designed exercises and existing assessment tools to help the co-conveners learn how to work better with each other.  Using instruments dealing with personal communication, leadership, and conflict resolution, I built a series of ongoing sessions so they might better capitalize on their strengths.  One result was the decision to continue such sessions with successive co-conveners.

How PC&T made a difference

PC&T provided the framework for the Working Group to revitalize itself.  Its meetings are more streamlined and more effective.  New task groups exist, attendance at the monthly meetings has increased, and membership numbers have risen.

The co-conveners are able to create more dynamic meetings and effectively tap into each others’ strengths. They have successfully continued to use skills and tools developed through this project.  They have created a model for other members and task group co-chairs, who, in turn, have taken up the standard.

Through this project, PC&T introduced meeting and measurement skills to an important segment of the Institute.  The work done through this project has laid an excellent foundation on which to build.

Case Five:  Repair & Maintenance (Facilities Department)
Performance Consultant:  Jeff Pankin

The need and/or background information

In the spring of 1997 Laura Lucas, Training Coordinator for Facilities (then called Physical Plant), contacted the PC&T team leader and requested a meeting with a PC to discuss the development and delivery of a class to help Facilities staff hold more productive meetings.   I was asked to meet with Laura since I was scheduled to teach our Yellow Book course, “Successful Meeting Practices.”  Laura wanted to customize and offer this class widely in Facilities.

When I met with Laura, we agreed that I would begin working with the Repair and Maintenance (R&M) group since they had some immediate needs.  R&M had recently moved to a team-based organization divided into zones.  Every morning each zone team gathered for a short team meeting to determine the day’s work.  At these meetings, which were a new idea, the role of facilitator was to rotate among the team members.

All the team leaders and the two R&M managers also met weekly to discuss issues of both an operational and a strategic nature.  I began the training with this group at their weekly meetings, and they, in turn, brought what they learned to the morning zone team meetings.

PC&T’s role

Initially, my role was to be a trainer; however, as the work proceeded I acted as a consultant and occasionally as a coach.

The performance consulting process

I first met with Steve Miscowski and Joe Gifun, the R&M managers, to obtain their assessment of the current state of the meetings and their goals for this project.  I asked for a number of documents, including meeting minutes, a copy of their meeting norms, and copies of other training material used in the past.  I also asked permission to observe several weekly meetings and talk to some of the team leaders.

At the first meeting I attended, I was introduced as a trainer from PC&T who was going to deliver some training on meeting practices.  The R&M managers also stated that I would first observe a few meetings to tailor the training to the group’s needs.

After a few meetings, the group was comfortable with my presence.  I arrived early and stayed late to develop some personal relationships.  During this time I also attended some early daily meetings and interviewed two zone team leaders.

I then presented to the group a proposal that I had already discussed with Steve and Joe.  I pointed out a number of areas where I thought the team leaders could improve their meeting practices.  I proposed that I take half of their meeting time for a training session, that I do this every second or third week, and that I continue to observe and coach during the meeting time.

The group liked the proposal, and we began soon after that.  I continued for several months, alternating training, observing, and coaching.  We concluded with a final formal evaluation.  I also had an exit interview with Joe and Steve during which I gave a number of suggestions on how they could continue improving these meetings.

How PC&T made a difference

PC&T made a positive difference with this group in several ways.  First, the team leaders learned techniques and tools for successful meetings (e.g., using agendas, decision-making, recording, facilitation, and evaluation).  I developed, distributed, and used course materials; examples came from the group’s real work.

Motivation remained high because I used such techniques as observation and coaching, breaking the training sessions into focused short sessions, and using the actual work of the team.  Because I observed and worked with the group over several months, I was able to structure my help in a way that was more beneficial than a generic training session.  I had a closer working relationship with this group and they had a long term resource.

After several months I have had reports from the two managers and from a number of team leaders that they have sustained many improvements.  There are agendas at every meeting, facilitators are using tools and techniques they learned, and decisions are made in ways understood by all.  Both meeting efficiency and effectiveness have improved.

Case Six:  Financial Management Training Series
Instructional Course Designer:  Susan Ziemba

The need and/or background information

Controller Jim Morgan and the Office of Sponsored Programs Director Julie Norris initiated this new series of courses in response to the MIT community’s desire for ongoing training in financial processes.

I convened and facilitated a focus group for input regarding content and training delivery style.  The focus group had two dozen employees from central offices, sponsored programs, and departments/laboratories/centers (DLCs).  I also used a topical survey completed by over 80 administrative and financial officers.  As a result, initial courses were developed and delivered in accounting fundamentals and sponsored programs.  Additional courses will be added as needed.

PC&T’s Role

Jim Morgan requested PC&T’s services to coordinate the design and delivery of these courses.  With my guidance, teams composed of experienced employees from central accounting, the Office of Sponsored Programs, and the DLCs developed and delivered the courses.   My role included:

  • facilitation of design teams responsible for gathering, sequencing, and documenting the specific content details
  • instruction in interactive, adult learning techniques to promote understanding, application, and transfer of the content back to the job
  • customizing templates for participant manuals and facilitator guides, as well as instruction and ongoing support for the use of PowerPoint
  • facilitation of trainer teams responsible for revising and enhancing the first draft of each course module and ensuring that the sequential modules appropriately introduce or reinforce learning of other modules
  • train-the-trainer instruction in adult learning, presentation techniques, and delivery logistics for the MIT Professional Learning Center at W89
  • interactive design support for the creation of applied exercises to help participants “learn by doing”
  • observation and coaching of new trainers during pilot presentations
  • creation of written course descriptions and other marketing materials
  • coordination of class scheduling, administration, and follow up
  • evaluation of course results, followed by revision and enhancement of  the courses.
The instructional design process

Once Jim Morgan and Julie Norris assigned team members, I facilitated a seven-person team to design the one-day Accounting Fundamentals course and a thirteen-person team to design the seven Sponsored Research modules.   Both teams were cross-functional and consisted of already busy people, so the process had to be responsive to their time constraints yet move forward the course development.

These teams met bi-monthly for two hours to plan. Subteams completed task assignments between meetings.  In approximately four months, the initial design was complete.  Next, “content experts” reviewed the proposed materials for thoroughness and accuracy.  Jim and Julie then designated CAO and OSP professionals and recruited AOs and others from the DLCs to be the lead and alternate co-trainers.  After two transition meetings with the course designers and trainers, the original design teams disbanded.  The trainer teams then met bi-monthly to revise the materials and pilot the workshops with end-user audiences. This process also took about four months.  I attended all pilot courses and held trainer debriefings to provide in-depth suggestions for presentation skills and enhanced learning.

Trainer teams representing the Controller’s Office, the Office of Sponsored Programs, and various DLCs taught the courses in the fall of 1998.  During the fall rollout of courses, I provided ongoing support for trainer needs. In January 1999, group meetings with the trainers will be held to gain input for course upgrades to ensure an even more successful program in the spring.

How PC&T made a difference

Employee response to the entire program has been overwhelmingly positive.  All courses were fully enrolled, including six sections of Accounting Fundamentals.  Participants’ comments focus on the longstanding need for the program, the effectiveness of the interactive learning strategies and applied problem solving, the helpfulness of the instructors in answering questions related to specific circumstances, and the increased understanding that is gained about MIT’s financial processes.  Those who worked on creating and teaching the courses attribute much of their success to my guidance.

Most of the few negative reactions are really a request for additional courses, particularly for one that would teach the specific procedures for completing various MIT financial documents, monitoring accounts, and reconciling monthly financial statements.

Response has also been very positive about the cross-functional design process, which helped improve communication and understanding among CAO, OSP, and the DLCs.  Many of the designers/trainers had not had the opportunity to talk with their counterparts in other offices; this process forged new relationships that will contribute to the effectiveness and integration of support services. The SAP trainer group was also pleased with the initiation of Accounting Fundamentals, which introduces basic terminology for SAP.

Externally, the course has also received high accolades.  I presented the Accounting Fundamentals course to over one dozen controllers from various Ivy League and other research universities across the country.  Reaction was very positive, especially for the interactive, applied learning focus.  Cornell University has licensed this course for customized use, and other university controllers indicated that they would use the materials to catalyze courses at their universities.

Training and Development

PC&T produces professional development training programs for MIT employees.  In addition to delivering customized training programs to departments, laboratories, centers, and offices, PC&T sponsors a series of classes offered Institute-wide; these are often called the “Yellow Book” classes.

The team sends the Yellow Book course catalog to all campus employees at the beginning of the fall semester; it sends additional flyers for the spring and summer courses.  Information about current Yellow Book classes is on the World Wide Web along with an on-line registration system <>.   More information about the most recently completed semester of Yellow Book classes is in Appendix III.

The team is expanding its training resources by preparing others in the MIT community, including senior leaders, to teach specific Yellow Book classes after the classes are developed, piloted, implemented, and improved.  This train-the-trainer approach has several benefits, including:

  • signaling that developing others is a leadership responsibility
  • enabling MIT to expand its course offerings to support its commitment to competency development
  • developing professional skills for speaking to or facilitating groups
  • helping individuals become better mentors and coaches by using the principles of adult learning
  • enhancing the credibility of the course when experts on the content and/or practitioners teach.
The team is also involved in an effort with the Boston Consortium, a coalition of area colleges and universities, to provide leadership training to their employees.  This effort is in its early stages.

Competency Curriculum

In support of HRPD’s work, PC&T is building a curriculum tied to most or all of MIT’s behavioral competencies.  Important tools for competency-based systems include pathways for competency development through classes, on-the-job practice, coaching/mentoring, performance management, and self-paced study.  PC&T’s work strongly supports a variety of pathways.  The programs and guides outlined below will be phased in over time.

Competency Explanation Courses:

The purposes of these courses are to provide explanations of the various competencies within the five categories HRPD has defined.  The courses will outline the specific indicators within each competency and provide examples of how these competencies are evidenced within daily work and performance.

Competency Selection and Development Courses:

These courses help participants understand how to build competency models, how to conduct selection interviewing based on specific competencies, and how to select appropriate candidates by analyzing competency interview results.

A group of PC&T, HRPD, Personnel, and other Institute employees have been trained in competency-based selection and behavioral event interviewing.  These employees are available as trainers/coaches to assist search teams.

Current courses include “Competencies & their Uses” and “Competency-based Selection.”

Individual Competency Development Courses:

These courses provide instruction and practice in specific competencies. Currently, the Yellow Book courses teach and provide practice in many competencies.  In the future, employees may create a development plan using the competency matrix PC&T that plans to develop by the fall 1999 semester.  This matrix will be in future Yellow Book course catalogs and on the Web.

The matrix will also be an effective tool for managers as they help employees set goals and create development plans.

Train-the-Trainer Courses:

These courses train content experts and practitioners in the use of adult learning principles.  Currently, such training is conducted with small groups for topic-specific courses (e.g., Accounting Fundamentals and the Sponsored Programs courses).  In addition, the PCs are developing understudies for selected Yellow Book classes; these understudies will lead selected courses in the future.

Meeting and Facilitation Skills

Another major effort PC&T plans is to build meeting and facilitation skills throughout the Institute.  The purpose is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the many meetings in which employees regularly participate.

Approximately 20 employees, who already regularly attend and/or lead meetings, will be selected and trained to assume a two-fold role:

  • leading a course about effective meeting practices for employees in their areas
  • facilitating meetings for senior management and others at the Institute.
PC&T has developed a competency model for the role, and the team will provide train-the-trainer programs and ongoing support to those in the role.

MIT Professional Learning Center (W89)

With the start of Fiscal Year 1999, the budget for the MIT Professional Learning Center (W89) was incorporated into the Office of the Vice President for Human Resources.  On behalf of that office, PC&T manages the facility.

The Learning Center has a Service Level Agreement with Information Systems for computer and network maintenance in the building.  Information Systems also funds and upgrades the computer equipment in the classrooms.  It is through this partnership between IS and PC&T that the Professional Learning Center maintains its status as a best practice site.  In fact, it is considered unique among colleges and universities.

As stewards of the Center, PC&T is responsible for providing high quality customer service, scheduling the building’s rooms, maintaining supplies and environmental amenities, and properly maintaining the equipment in the classrooms and offices.

More details about W89 are in its most recent annual report in Appendix III.

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These pages last updated April 5, 1999 by