For most innovative organizations, professional development ranks high when it comes to investing in and empowering employees. The City of Grand Junction is not only known for ongoing training and education, they take it a step further and are experiencing significant results because of it.
For the past eight years, Beth McGrath has led the Employee Professional Development Program for the City of Grand Junction. Her classes and trainings have helped city employees improve their professional skills and advance their careers within the city. She considers herself a “coach” because she teaches everything from department retreats to leadership skills classes and even book study groups.
“My job is to get to know everyone in the city and help them reach their goals,” she said. “Sometimes they find themselves in one job and kind of looking over the fence at other jobs, wanting to be there. They can come to me, and I’ll get to know them and find out what their skills are and where they want to go. We then figure out together what they need to get there. I talk to them about what things they’ll need to learn, what certifications they need to get, and everything they need to get ready. I help them with resume writing and individual interview skills, so they’re prepared when they walk into the interview.”
There are many benefits to employee professional development, both for individual employees and the organization. “It is such a benefit to have an organization that wants to invest in you as an employee. This program offers employees assistance that not only helps the city thrive and innovate, more importantly, it supports the individual in their own personal growth to help them reach their goals,” Beth said.
The City of Grand Junction takes great pride with investing in employees so they have the opportunity to evolve within the organization and excel in new positions. Investing in employee professional development benefits the city by improving employee satisfaction and engagement. “We want our GJ City team to be the best employees they can be and move up if that’s their goal.” McGrath also said that leadership skills are the components of virtually every class she teaches. “One of the first questions I ask people is ‘would you want to work for you?’ I think we all want to be that leader that people want to follow, but people aren’t always natural leaders. We hope to give them the tools to become better.”
However, Beth also pointed out that this is equally true for people without a professed desire for a leadership position. “Engagement is somewhat the responsibility of an employee, but it’s also the responsibility of the organization,” she said. “We want our employees to be engaged and we want them to be happy. I think a lot of what I do is teach people how to appreciate each other and how to support each other. You don’t have to be a leader to thank someone and help to create an environment where everyone feels appreciated.”
Beth says her work for employee professional development is tailored to the individual. Most of the classes she teaches are by request. She is also quick to acknowledge that not everyone has clear career goals and that there’s no “right way” to find your career path. “Some people have specific goals,” she said. “And some say, ‘I don’t know what I want to do, I don’t know what’s next.’” Life doesn’t always have a direct path. It’s not usually a straight arrow.”
”It’s really amazing to witness people reaching their career goals,” Beth said. What makes her so passionate about her work is the employees and helping them to grow their careers.
The city offers a wide range of professional development options for all employees, including seasonal and part-time. With approximately 650 full-time employees and another 300 part-time and seasonal employees, getting to know everyone seems like a big order. But McGrath says that “the people,” and the relationships she gets to build are the most rewarding part of employee professional development for the City of Grand Junction. “Someday, when I retire, I’m really going to miss these people - their stories and their dreams.”
Find out more about job opportunities at the City of Grand Junction.