Fermliab director gives focus group results, lays out plans
Fermilab Director Pier Oddone laid out plans to address focus group findings at an all-hands meeting on Friday, June 19. View the slideshow as a PowerPoint or pdf file.
Fermilab has a lot of work to do, said Fermilab Director Pier Oddone in an all-hands meeting Friday.
Oddone spoke to a full auditorium Friday morning about the recently released results of a series of focus groups held at the laboratory and the actions the laboratory plans to take to address those results.
"The report is a portrait of ourselves that is quite revealing and quite interesting," Oddone said.
Fermilab organized a series of 23 focus groups last winter in response to a May 2008 study by the American Physical Society on the environment for women and minorities at the laboratory. The results of the APS study, which included interviews with self-selecting individuals, suggested that the laboratory had a systemic problem.
The Fermilab-organized focus groups were divided into a random selection of people from across the laboratory and a group of women and minorities. The groups did not report systemic workplace issues for women or minorities and participants said they felt the environment was inclusive.
However, the groups did yield insight into management problems and employee support issues, including: unskilled managers, a two-tier system with different standards for physicists and non-physicists, lack of employee support, unclear policies and procedures and a lack of a cohesive Fermilab culture.
"We have a strong culture of pulling together when the chips are down, but don't have it in other respects," Oddone said. "And this is something that we need to work on."
During the meeting, Oddone laid out a number of plans to address concerns. He will meet with supervisors by division, section and center to discuss ways to respond to focus group findings. Also, he laboratory will build up the university program that partners with the laboratory and make sure that managers have the appropriate training.
The Workforce Development and Resource Section will revamp its Web site to make policies easier to find. Oddone also plans to create an internal laboratory citizens' task force to provide guidance and recommendations for improving the work environment.
"In the long-term future what you would like to have is, in fact, a culture about what it means to work at Fermilab that we all understand and feel comfortable with, and where employees feeling supported in doing their tasks and where we have mechanisms in place for feedback and continued improvement," Oddone said. "This has been a big step and I think that it behooves us all to try make the most out of it."
-- Rhianna Wisniewski
View the slideshow as a PowerPoint or pdf file.
Watch a video of the meeting