Supporting Professional Development in Public Research

INSERM - April 2018 to July 2018
Human Resources Department

“We wanted to establish a training program for the implementation of new missions within the HR department”

The context of public research in France has evolved significantly, and an increasing number of researchers, as well as administrative staff, have questions about their career progression. In response to this, the Human Resources department at Inserm decided to create a new role, Human Resources Development Officer, to better support employees who are contemplating their careers.

How can career development in the specific context of public research in France be supported?

Laura Gouget, Training Manager at Inserm’s Continuing Education Office:

“The institution had introduced a new role, Human Resources Development Officer. Our role in the Continuing Education Office was to support this role by establishing a training program to enable the effective implementation of the responsibilities associated with it. At the same time, we noticed new needs expressed by employees that we had to address, such as difficulties in recruitment, a growing sense of loss of meaning in their work, and desires for a change in their professional lives.”

Creating a common and consistent career development practice

With the introduction of the new Human Resources Development Officer role, it was expected that those in this role would be able to deploy a clear support method with specific objectives tailored to public research institutions. The challenge of this mission was to provide customized training to a very heterogeneous audience in terms of coaching experience and profiles, ranging from novice recruits to experienced employees with over 10 years of experience. In some cases, this role was already carried out by HR advisors or training officers in place. Inserm’s goal was to establish a common and consistent coaching practice. This can be a challenge when practices have been in place for some time.

Using field experience to inform and structure practices

To promote consistent coaching practices, it is preferable that professionals receive the same level of training, the same tools, and to build a network of mutual aid and exchange of practices. That’s why, despite differences in knowledge and experience, we chose to deliver the same training to all participants. However, we carefully formed groups to include participants representing different experience profiles. We established a principle for these training sessions that knowledge and methods would be built on the basis of sharing experiences. And it worked very well!

I worked on this mission as a subcontractor for the Adoc Talent Management firm. We collaborated on the following stages:

Exploring together :
An assessment based on a questionnaire sent to all participants allowed us to assess the various levels of experience and knowledge in career development counseling.

Enlightenment through research:
Based on the practices described in the assessment, we identified the coaching method closest to the scientific literature. This was the ADVP (Activation of Vocational and Personal Development) method. We then adapted the principles of this method to illuminate existing practices and provide additional practical elements in a very operational manner, in the form of tools and case studies.

Co-creating with initiators, actors, and users:
We formed a training steering committee composed of sponsors and a representative sample of participants. We conducted a test training session to validate and improve our content.

Measuring the impact and efficiency of the project:
Following the training, a roundtable discussion was held to gather feedback from participants, and the feedback was taken into account to enhance subsequent sessions. A satisfaction questionnaire was also sent via email.


Laura Gouget, Training Manager at Inserm’s Continuing Education Office:

“This training marked the beginning of a common reconstruction of professional and work practices. We regularly refer back to the materials. It’s our reference base, a common grid linked to these training sessions. There were people with extensive experience in conducting interviews who were already skilled. They learned something new and they enjoyed it. It benefited everyone, both novices and those who were already experienced – the latter didn’t waste their time. The evaluation feedback was very positive. They were looking forward to the next module. Elodie truly provided a customized experience, she was ready to adjust and her listening skills were consistent. She has the ability to adapt to a training group. Elodie has real training skills.”

Why was expertise in research consulting relevant for this mission?

For this mission, research-action proved to be an asset in shedding light on and articulating the practices of some individuals. Even if they had already mastered coaching practices and techniques, they gained new knowledge that was more methodological, allowing them to situate and justify their actions.

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