RCCC gets an honorable mention

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College earned the 2013 Honorable Mention Innovation Award from the North Carolina Community College Adult Educators’ Association (NCCCAEA).
The awards are the NCCCAEA’s way of recognizing and rewarding creativity and innovation in course programming, management practice, communication, marketing or customer service in continuing education programs. The college received an honorable mention of the Innovation Award for its collaboration with the city of Concord on their internal career development program. The program was developed jointly nearly nine years ago and has evolved and expanded.
“We would not be able to implement this program without the support of Rowan-Cabarrus and their ability to tailor the program to fit our needs,” said Christie Putnam, water resources director for Concord. “The program results in well-trained employees who better understand themselves, how to interact with others, and additional skills that could not normally be acquired — all at a reasonable costs.”
The college submitted its entry along with 13 other community colleges across the state. The entry, “Developing a High Performing Work Team in a Competitive Municipal Environment,” was recognized for its longevity, diversity, breadth and scope.
The city of Concord sought to develop an ongoing annual training program that would ensure employees had the necessary tools to perform their jobs well and prepare for advancement opportunities within the organization. To accomplish this goal, leaders were willing to commit to a program that would be paid for by the city and supported with dedicated release time.
“What initially started in just two departments has expanded to include six departments,” said Randy Shue, street superintendent and program coordinator. “Cross-functional classes provide employees the opportunity to get to know people they wouldn’t necessarily meet. This helps employees better understand challenges across the organization.”
The program is modified annually to address critical topics, emerging issues and new technology. The program averages 78 participants per year with each participant receiving a total of 50 hours of continuing education and career development. Training topics span the spectrum from certification preparations to employee health and wellness. Successful completion of the program each year not only positions the participants for individual career advancement, but also creates greater efficiencies, competencies and cost savings.
“The college has been great to work with,” said Shue. “We often come to Rowan-Cabarrus with a problem we are facing. They have been excellent partners in helping us develop timely and effective training programs that help us respond to those needs.”
The annual career development program is for city employees in transportation, wastewater services and grounds maintenance. This partnership was developed cooperatively between the college’s continuing education staff and human resources officials from the city of Concord.
“The impact of this training is a high performing work team, improved communications, less accidents and a decrease in ‘lost’ work time,” said Putnam.
The goals for the program were to create an environment of continuous process improvement, stellar customer service, increased safety rates and continuous succession planning for management and leadership positions. Topics include computer applications, safety, health and wellness, customer service, communication, management and supervision and continuous improvement.
Each year, some facet of customer service training is provided that encompasses critical skills such as effective communication and interpersonal relations.
“We believe that the long term implications of this training program are employees with greater job satisfaction, improved health, and increased knowledge about both technical and big picture aspects of their jobs as city employees,” said Jeanie Moore, vice president of advancement and continuing education. “The city of Concord utilizes this program as its internal university to grow and develop the future leaders in this division.”
It’s also a way for employees to increase their salary. Upon completion of the program, employees receive an additional $600 to their base salary.
“This career development program is a way for employees to play an active role in their careers,” said Kay Dellinger, executive assistant, one of the original creators of the program. “The initiative that an employee shows for improving his or herself helps leadership identify future organizational leaders.”
“It is worth noting that two-thirds of the time that employees contribute to this program is their own time outside of work hours and ‘off-the-clock.’ Employees must demonstrate a commitment to their personal and professional development,” said Putnam.
“The city of Concord is an example of forward thinking, collaboration and partnership,” said David King, director of corporate training and professional development, who has managed the program for the college since 2011. “We are proud to work with the city on this important initiative and thrilled that the program has received this recognition.”
The college offers customized training to businesses large and small. The training programs are tailored for each individual company and are designed to react quickly to the needs of local businesses. Course content includes practical hands-on experience that is customized for employees who need to become more productive in the shortest time possible. For more information, please contact David King, david.king@rccc.edu, 704-216-3935.