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Management Development helps businesses in Lancaster County|
By Melissa W. Kaye
| Penn State Management Development Programs and Services is finding a new niche in Lancaster County. The area, second behind Philadelphia in the number of state manufacturing jobs, is proving to be an ideal place for the departments faculty to do business.|
Management Development Programs and Services goal is to provide education and training to businesses and organizations to help them improve and grow. And in Lancaster County, with its huge number of employers, theres a lot of opportunity, Dr. Wesley E. Donahue, director of Management Development Programs and Services, said.
When you look at the portfolio of companies, there is every type of industry in Lancaster, including health care, pharmaceuticals, commercial printing, steel, service, government and food, pointed out Eric Bergstrom, director of Penn States Lancaster Center, the hub for Management Developments outreach activities in the area. More than 16 employers have 1,000 employees: Lancaster General Hospital tops the list with 3,350 workers, printer R. R. Donnelley has a workforce of 3,250, and the county employs 2,600 people.
The surge in Penn State Outreach activity in the area stems from Management Developments and the Lancaster Centers active role in seeking out local companies and organizations and helping them identify their business improvement needs. With Management Developments 15 full-time faculty members who have a combined business experience of more than 200 years, those needs are likely to be met. Initial meetings involve discussions with the client on how it can improve anything from communication to project management.
We specialize in customizing programs and delivering them on-site at the clients location, Donahue explained.
We assist companies in assessing their needs and, in cooperation with the organizations leaders, mutually identify interventions aimed at honing their processes, building their professional skills and improving their interpersonal relationships, Bergstrom added. That often means teaching the adult students to think logicallyfrequently using data to drive their decision making. Many of us have historically made decisions based on experience or gut instinct; we teach organization members to use numbers and statistics to drive improvement efforts, he said.
One example is a project management course for Philips CSI, the communications and security products manufacturer, led by Dr. Richard Zelonka, assistant professor with Management Development. He taught employees project management with the use of computer software. The class enjoyed meaningful results, he said. We took [the companys] real-life projects and used them as part of the course. The program concluded, and they left with templates that they could use later on.
Other classes have included work on quality-of-life issues, in which Dr. Katheryn Woodley, assistant professor of management development, helped Philips CSI management analyze survey data from employees.
And the Lancaster Center worked with Heritage Custom Cabinetry LLC, a high-end kitchen manufacturer, on an employee development program. For that project, each of Heritages 125 employees clocked 10 classroom hours to work on such skills as communication, problem solving and conflict resolution. While it may be too soon for Heritage to see results from the class, the future looks promising.
We had overwhelmingly positive feedback about the program, said Newell B. Everett III, operations support manager for the company. Employees had been through many different similar programs in the past, and they were skeptical about this one. But at least 10 people said to me that this was the first time they went through a training class that was useful. He reported that since Heritage completed the program, it has launched more than a dozen of what he called constructive team activities aimed at both quality and production improvement.
How do the Lancaster Center services differ from a private management consulting firm?
Management Development faculty members have the experience of working with a variety of companies on a wide range of improvement activities, Bergstrom said. Sometimes management consultants leave organizations before the people have successfully acquired the skills and knowledge. Our people focus on developing long-term relationships with satisfied, successful customers.
An outreach program of Penn State Management Development Programs and Services and the Lancaster Center