EDOs For Managers

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EDOs are a win-win-win for employees, departments, and managers!

Watch A Video

Watch this video to learn how  a supervisor at Cornell has used EDOs with her work team:

To access captions, hover over viewer for options to appear, then click "CC" and choose "English"


Consider This


Consider the following when planning to offer an experiential development opportunity:

  • Do you have seasonal work cycles when you could use additional help?
  • Do you have a special project that needs to be completed?
  • Would you like to expand your network from the pool of experienced employees already at Cornell?


Consider the following when supporting  someone in your team who wants to participate:

  • Do you have or know of an especially valued employee you hope will be retained, either in your department or by another department at Cornell?
  • In slower periods, could you productively release a staff person to work in another position in order for this employee to learn new skills?
  • Would your staff member feel re-energized and rewarded through learning a new job or skill?
  • Do you have a special project that needs to be completed and a staff member who could learn the needed skills to complete it?


As you consider which requests to approve:

keep in mind that experiential development opportunities are ways to recognize and reward employees you value and want to retain. Your serious consideration and approval will encourage staff productivity and increase engagement.


Where do I start?


Ready to offer an EDO?


HR is here to help! 

  • HR can help supervisors identify, create and describe opportunities.
  • The Staff Position Description (SPD) format can be utilized to outline the rotational assignment.
  • The length of the assignment and expected outcomes should be specified.
  • The length of most experiential learning should be under one year. 
  • Supervisors are encouraged to work with each other to develop skill development rotational assignment opportunities.


EDO Examples

Below are examples of  ways an EDO can take shape. 

Job Swap:  

Temporarily exchange roles with another employee who has a similar skillset, often within the same team or department.
Example: Two administrative assistants with different responsibilities learn to perform each other's roles over a certain period of time.

  • Expands staff skillset for an entire role or position
  • Builds capability within your workgroup to manage staffing shortfalls or unexpected challenges


Responsibility Swap: 

Learn a specific skill or a portion of a job without a full job swap by trading parts of job responsibilities.
Example: Two administrative assistants exchange only certain responsibilities over a defined period of time.

  • Expands staff skillset for a particular task
  • Builds capability within your workgroup to manage staffing shortfalls or unexpected challenges



A temporary assignment to another department or group.
Example: A staff member has scheduled a parental leave of absence.  Create a job rotation opening for an employee who wants to learn about this role while they're away. 

  • Your team works with a proven Cornell employee, rather than a potentially inexperienced temp
  • A Cornell staff member learns news skills and networking among new colleagues



Follow another employee during part or all of work day.
Example: A staff member wants to learn about another role or department. Or set up a shadowing assignment in preparation for a job rotation  to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Your staff member brings new skills or approaches to their current role
  • Staff increases engagement through pursuing career development in an area that interests them
  • Build networking relationships across departments or groups


Stretch Assignments:  

A staff member takes on new or different responsibilities for a defined period of time.
Example:  A staff member fills in for a manager on vacation; or takes a lead on a particular project not within the scope of their normal job description.

  • Support high-performing staff with opportunities to prove or challenge their skills in a safe way
  • Prepare for future succession or strategic planning


See the Experiential Development Opportunity Descriptions for more details.


Expectations for Employees

Expectations for Managers

  • Cornell University's values of collegiality, stewardship, initiative, civility, integrity, and excellence. See "Skills for Success."
  • A desire to develop one's skills and knowledge base.
  • The ability to work well with others.
  • Dependability and a strong work ethic.

If the EDO involves placement with a different manager, your temporary manager will complete the assessment of your objectives in the EDO agreement. 

  • Support staff self-development activities wherever possible, with the understanding that not all requests will be approved depending on staffing and other departmental needs. 
  • Have open and honest discussions with employees regarding where they stand and what needs to be done in order to be considered for an EDO assignment. Such discussions should happen throughout the year, as well as when creating goals for the employee's Individual Development Plan (IDP) during the annual performance management process.




Generally, a skills development EDO within the same college or unit does not incur any costs.

However, funding models are different across the university, making the funding for each assignment different. The funding for each assignment needs to be discussed with the current and host supervisor. See your HR manager or supervisors who have participated in previous skill development assignments for models that have been used. 

Individuals supported by sponsored funds may be required to seek department/college support if they wish to participate in Experiential Development Opportunities (EDO).  The individual should reach out to their Department Administrator to discuss requirements for maintaining project support.  This may include a requirement to back-fill the position to ensure that the project is not adversely affected and only effort associated with conducting project activities is charged accordingly.


Bargaining Unit Staff

Staff covered by a collective bargaining agreement are eligible to participate in an EDO.  However, advanced approval is needed from college/unit HR prior to finalizing any arrangements.  In these cases, supervisors must contact their college/unit HR rep who, in turn, will partner with Workforce Policy and Labor Relations and the appropriate union leadership to finalize the terms of the EDO.


Tools and Resources

New EDO Summary 

Agreement Form

Experiential Development Opportunity Descriptions