Staff development dialogues – less frequent than they should be

They’re supposed to take place once a year. But the frequency of staff development dialogues (SDDs) at AU actually varies a great deal. Jan Skov Pedersen, a professor of chemistry, had to wait more than a decade for his next SDD.

More than a decade passed between Jan Skov Pedersen’s last two SDDs. The first one took place before he was appointed at AU. This was with his previous boss Ib Johannsen at the end of the 1990s, when they were both employed at Risø. In 2000 Pedersen was appointed at the Department of Chemistry at AU, but his next SDD wasn’t until 2012. Once again it was with Johannsen, who had become head of the department the year before.

But the chemistry professor wasn’t the only member of the department to miss out on an annual discussion of their situation.

“There were quite a few members of staff who had never had a proper SDD, and this wasn’t because they had just been appointed,” reports Johannsen.

This is all about to change. AU has introduced a new SDD concept, which the Department of Chemistry has been one of the first to test. However, there was no tradition for conducting SDDs at the department, so Johannsen sometimes had to defend the idea of having them, he explains.

Testing the new SDD concept

Jan Skov Pedersen and Ib Johannsen are in no doubt about what they think of the new concept.

“It’s a very good concept. If you use the guidelines to prepare for your SDD, you remember to think about all relevant aspects. And the guidelines also help you to cover a lot of ground during the SDD itself. For instance, we discussed our mutual expectations, and they matched each other pretty well,” says Pedersen.

But he’s not so keen on the fact that staff are now responsible for entering the conclusions in a new SDD model in the AUHRA staff administration system.

“I wasn’t too chuffed about being given an extra job to do,” he says.

Johannsen is also satisfied with the new concept in general.

“It worked fine, although I would have liked a question about any factors in the rest of your life that might have an impact on your work – illness or death in the family, for instance. Anything that the staff deemed to be relevant.”

Do we really need an electronic system?

However, he wasn’t too impressed by the new SDD module.

“In technical terms it was a disaster. It was complicated to use, and far from clear.”

AU HR has subsequently adjusted a great deal of the SDD module, and Johannsen has now had the chance to get to know the new features.

“It’s definitely improved. But I’m still not sure that we really need an electronic system.”

For more information about SDDs and the new concept, please go to: