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People make the difference.

The most valuable resource in a library is its people, especially in an increasingly competitive, dynamic and global environment. The University of Wollongong Library recognises that people and their performance are critical to success and sustainability as reflected in its critical success factors: continuous learning, readiness for change, and skilled and knowledgeable staff who embody its values and attributes. The library is the first in Australasia to use the Investors in people standard to benchmark its performance and identify important opportunities. Edited version of a paper presented at `The vital link 3: staffing in library and information services in the 21st century' conference Adelaide South Australia 29-30 November 2002 held by the University of South Australia Library in association with the Australian Library and Information Association


As Geldart states `People are an investment, they are an appreciating asset and they are our largest non renewable resource'. (1) To succeed, gain competitive advantage and add value to the business, organisations need to invest in their employees through structured development programs.

The University of Wollongong Library believes the achievement of current goals and future sustainability depend primarily on its people: their capacity to learn and innovate and their ability to contribute to the fullest extent. Structure, policies and plans are designed to enable this contribution through empowering the staff, sustaining a learning organisation philosophy, providing a supportive culture and offering opportunities for satisfying careers.

To realise the human resource element of the library's vision Fostering staff who are innovative information specialists, skilled in providing exceptional service, the following goal was identified in the 1999 strategic plan Leadership in identification and implementation of administrative applications and best practice in human resources. To meet this goal the Investors in people standard was chosen in order to benchmark performance and identify improvement opportunities.
Investors in people

 The objective of Investors in people is to
 improve business performance and secure
 competitive advantage. Investors in people gives
 a planned approach to setting and communicating
 business goals, and developing people to meet
 these goals for organisations of all sizes and in
 all sectors. (2)

Industry, employees, training organisations and the national government in the UK developed the standard in 1990. It was introduced to Australia in 1995 with the support of the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training.
 Investors in people is not a personnel initiative;
 it is not just about training and development. It
 is concerned with delivering organisation
 objectives by harnessing the skills, knowledge
 and behaviour of the organisation's most
 important asset. The standard recognises the
 strategic importance of people. (3)

 The standard provides a framework for cohesive
 action through

 * specifying the principles which tie training
 and development activity directly to business

 * ensuring resources committed to training and
 development are put to the most effective use

 * providing a clear benchmark of good practice
 in training and development against which
 any organisation can measure progress
 towards improved business performance. (4)

The standard draws on experience and best practices demonstrated by the most successful organisations and is based on four good practice principles, relevant to every business situation.

Commitment to investing in people to achieve business goals.

Planning how skill needs are met to achieve these goals.

Action to develop and use necessary skills in a well defined and continuing program directly tied to business objectives.

Evaluation measuring progress towards goals, value achieved and future needs. (5)
These four principles are supported by twelve indicators which tell the
organisation and a qualified independent assessor if the standard is
being met. (6)

Principles Indicators

Commitment 1 The organisation is committed to
 supporting the development of its people
An IiP is fully
committed to developing 2 People are encouraged to improve
its people in order to their own and other people's performance
achieve its aims and
objectives 3 People believe their contribution to
 the organisation is recognised

 4 The organisation is committed to
 ensuring equality of opportunity in the
 development of its people

Planning 5 The organisation has a plan with
 clear aims and objectives which are
An IiP is clear about its understood by everyone
aims and its objectives
and what its people need 6 The development of people is in line
to do to achieve them with the organisation's aims and

 7 People understand how they contribute
 to achieving the organisation's aims and

Action 8 Managers are effective in supporting
 the development of people
An IiP develops its
people effectively in order 9 The development of people improves
to improve its the performance of the organisation,
performance teams and individuals

Evaluation 10 The development of people improves
 the performance of the organisation,
An IiP understands the teams and individuals
impact of its investment
in people on its 11 People understand the impact of the
performance development of people on the performance
 of the organisation, teams and

 12 The organisation gets better at
 developing its people

The IiP standard provides guidance on how to meet each indicator and the type of evidence an assessor would look for. For example

Principle One: Commitment: an IiP is fully committed to developing its people in order to achieve its aims and objectives.

Indicator 1: The organisation is committed to supporting the development of its people.


* This indicator tests how committed you are to developing your people.

* To prove your commitment, and to meet the indicator, you need to show that you have put words to action. You need to show that all your managers actively support people's development rather than just pay lip service. Your people need to believe that management actively supports their development and that your commitment as an organisation is genuine.

* You have to show that you are committed to supporting the development of everyone who contributes to your organisation achieving its objectives--whatever role they play.


* Senior management can describe strategies that have been put in place to support the development of people in order to improve the organisation's performance.

* Managers can describe specific actions that they have taken and are currently taking to support the development of people.

* People can confirm that the specific strategies and actions described by senior management and managers take place.

* People believe the organisation is genuinely committed to supporting their development. (7)

The University of Wollongong Library before Investors in people

The library's commitment to training and development has long been supported, embedded in its culture and communicated to staff. It has identified Continuous learning and readiness for change and Skilled and knowledgeable staff who embody our values and attributes as two necessary conditions for the achievement of its vision and goals (critical success factors). Knowledge and learning, an agreed value, is made explicit to all staff through publishing demonstrated behaviours alongside the values in brochures and posters. For example
Value We demonstrate commitment to the values by

Knowledge and Understanding our role in providing information within
learning the university; extending our knowledge and skills;
 continually stretching personal boundaries; taking
 responsibility for our professional growth and making
 known our goals and aspirations.

The library had also identified that the responsibility for ongoing skills development and learning was three fold in that the organisation, team coordinators (supervisors and managers) and the individual staff member all had a role to play

* the organisation's responsibilities include providing resources to assist the learning process, identifying training needs and skills gaps; advertising and evaluating training and development opportunities; designing and delivering training or funding the provision of external training and development

* team coordinator responsibilities include encouraging staff to develop a career plan; conducting development reviews; conducting pre and post training/ development discussions; ensuring staff receive effective training; and informing staff of relevant training and development

* staff members responsibilities include identifying training and development needs and opportunities to help them meet their goals; preparing for their development review; completing required course application and evaluation documents illustrating relationships between their needs and the library's key goals; and applying and/or demonstrating skills knowledge or attitudes learnt in the workplace

Strategic planing processes had been in place for over ten years. However the link between staff development and the library's strategic direction was not clear, training was reactive rather than proactive. Training and development activities were evaluated but no framework existed. Nor were results of evaluation communicated to management or staff.

Why use Investors in people?

The Investors in people standard was chosen as a framework

* because it was aligned with the library's values and business philosophy

* to ensure human resource management policies, systems and processes are designed to contribute effectively to the achievement of the library's strategic direction

* to measure human resource management strategies against an internationally recognised best practice standard

* to make improvements based on self and formal external assessment feedback

Investors in people process

Initially a subcommittee of the library's staff training and development committee conducted an assessment to identify gaps between performance and the requirements of the standard. From this a range of improvement strategies were identified, formulated into an action plan and incorporated into the next strategic plan. It was pleasing to note that most improvements were minor in nature. Improvements identified and implemented included

* documentation and evaluation of all training and development activities, for example job enrichment opportunities and job share

* development of a formal training and development plan with transparent links to the library's strategic plan

* revision of job descriptions to include training and development responsibilities, outcomes and performance indicators

* identification of training needs as high, medium or low priority on an organisational and individual level

* reviewing whether previously identified training and development had been met in individual development reviews

* developing an annual training and development report highlighting the impact of training and development on the library's goals and objectives. This report is circulated to all staff

In 1999 the library executive committee recommended that the library apply for formal recognition. External evaluation was an opportunity to test the application and integration of human resource management strategies and effectiveness of planning processes. It also provided an opportunity to receive objective feedback on internal benchmarks articulated in the values. In essence the library could determine if it was receiving a return on investment in people management and development strategies.

The first stage of external assessment included a desktop evaluation, which included a report on how we met each indicator and portfolio of evidence, by an accredited lip assessor from NCSI (NATA Certification Services International) who are responsible for administering the standard. From this evaluation the assessor determined whether a site visit would be conducted or if further evidence was required for specific indicators.

The second stage involved a visit by the assessor who selected and interviewed the management team and a cross section of staff in order to identify workplace evidence of policies, practices and procedures as discussed in the report and supporting documentation. The staff interviewed were representative of all levels and teams and included both new and experienced staff.

An audit report by the assessors outlined how the library performed against each indicator and offered recommendations for improvements. Informal acknowledgment of recognition was received on the site visit day.

The University of Wollongong Library was the first in Australia to be awarded the Investors in people standard. The executive summary from the audit report states
 The University of Wollongong Library has
 passed the assessment `with flying colours'. It
 has been a first rate organisation in all aspects
 and exceeded the requirements of the standard in
 virtually all indicators. The organisation exhibits
 strong leadership, excellent strategic direction,
 very good communication and a commitment to
 training and development that is absolutely first
 class ... From an Investors in people point of
 view, it is hoped that this benchmark
 organisation can provide all other potential
 Investors in people with a higher and higher
 standard to measure themselves against (8)

Benefits of Investors in people

As a result of external assessment a number of improvements have been implemented. These include

* the development of a comprehensive induction program for casual staff

* establishment of a more accurate costing of training and development

* actively creating further job enrichment opportunities rather than waiting for them to occur as a result of extended leave

The library has undertaken annual surveillance audits over the last three years that have identified further opportunities for improvement. These have been implemented.

Receiving recognition against an international best practice standard was a significant affirmation that the investment made in developing a culture that fosters continuous learning and readiness for change had been realised. Investors in people has provided the library with many tangible and less tangible benefits. The tangible benefits include

* training more closely linked to business needs

* better evaluation of training

* improved administrative systems for recording training and development

* improved communication about the impact of training and development on the organisation

* more cost effective training

* improved staff morale

Statistical measures which highlight the value of Investors include

* above benchmark results in leadership when compared to a variety of organisations

* above 80 per cent of internal staff have successfully applied for externally advertised library positions

* 100 per cent of staff have attended at least one training and development activity in the last twelve months

* 95 per cent of staff who attended training activities have applied knowledge and/or skills from the training in the workplace

* consistently high client service satisfaction rates

A less tangible benefit is recognition. For individual staff it is recognition that the organisation is committed to their development and providing opportunities for progression. The standard is recognition that the library's investment in training and development has paid dividends and that the commitment, action, planning and evaluation in all aspects of human resource management are on the right track.

At the Investor in people accreditation ceremony high praise was received from the University of Wollongong vice chancellor, Gerard Sutton
 Many set out to achieve best practice. However,
 very few succeed, or develop the systems they
 need to succeed. The library's commitment to
 excellence and best practice and the recognition it
 has achieved against a number of standards will
 continue to set this university apart.

How can you use Investors in people?

IiP is a useful framework for any organisation to adopt. Whether it wishes to gain accreditation or not, as it is a useful tool to help an organisation implement change and link people development with organisational goals.
 Staff accept the program very positively because
 it improves their skill levels. In addition as a
 result of management better communicating
 corporate objectives, staff have a clearer
 understanding of the direction in which the
 company is heading and also how they are
 contributing to achieving these objectives. (9)


The University of Wollongong Library has used the IiP standard as a framework to

* become more business like and to focus on changes in the business environment

* reposition itself rapidly in a dynamic global environment

* systemise planning, project management and improvement at all levels

* ensure it does do not leave things to change

The library has definitely received value for the investment in Investors in people, the title of which is apt. Invest means to `give out in order to obtain return or endow with qualities and attributes, to spend time and effort with the expectation of some satisfaction'. (10)

These meanings reflect how properly planned and directed training and development strategies and action provide dividends. Investing in people does obtain returns for the organisation and for the individual and it does endow the organisation with distinctive qualities and attributes.

More information on the Investors in people standard can be obtained from
7 Leeds St Rhodes NSW 2138
Tel 02 97368266


(1) Geldart, P Leadership in the knowledge economy transcript AITD national conference 2001 transcript.pdf

(2) NATA Certification Services International (NSCI) The Investors in people standard: 2000 Rhodes NSW, NCSI 2000 p1

(3) Rix, R World class performance is just not achievable without the development of world class people Management accounting May 1996 p30

(4) NATA Certification Services International op cit p1

(5) NATA Certification Services International op cit p6

(6) NATA Certification Services International op cit p4-5

(7) NATA Certification Services International op cit p15

(8) NATA Certification Services International (NSCI) University of Wollongong library audit report Rhodes NSW, NCSI 1999 p2

(9) MacKenzie, K Try this as a management tool Company director October 1999 p51

(10) Macquarie dictionary Chatswood NSW, Macquarie Library 1987 2nd revision

Lorraine Denny Learning and Development Consultant University of Wollongong NSW

Lorraine Denny is Learning and Development Consultant Career Development Unit University of Wollongong. She has worked at the University of Wollongong since 1984 in a variety of positions, and from 1993 as library staff development officer. Address: Northfield Avenue Wollongong NSW 2522 tel(02)42215941 fax(02)42214100
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Title Annotation:University of Wollongong Library
Author:Denny, Lorraine
Publication:Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services
Article Type:Excerpt
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Dec 1, 2002
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