Webinar Spotlight: Essential Skills for Navigating Difficult Times

Throughout the past few months, life has drastically changed for many due to the effects from the recent public health crisis. For those MSU employees who may have been furloughed or laid off, the MSU Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and MSU Health4U Program are offering a special session of their Essential Skills for Navigating Difficult Times webinar series. Lisa Laughman, MSU’s Lead Emotional Wellness Consultant, will facilitate an eight-week basic resilience training course designed to help employees experiencing furlough to process emotions and effectively navigate both personal and professional challenges.

The purpose of the course is to provide basic emotional resilience skill building to help individuals navigate all the challenges that their temporary employment status, the COVID-19 pandemic, national protests, and other life circumstances may be creating for them. It is also offered to provide support and connection to the campus community as the furlough period unfolds.

This basic resilience training program will provide participants:

  • Operating instructions for personal, emotional guidance system.
  • Practical reset skills to help regain a sense of balance and perspective during these difficult days.
  • Introduction to six skills that will help strengthen psychological flexibility.
  • Skill-building to help understand and navigate the full range of human emotions required for rich, meaningful life.
  • Value clarification exercises to help claim the core values to navigate whatever comes in this time of crisis and change.

This on-line resilience training program will begin on Tues., June 9 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. and will run for eight consecutive weeks. All interested employees can register here. Sessions will be offered via Zoom and those who register will be sent Zoom connection information following their registration.

For any questions about this program, contact Lisa Laughman directly at lisa.laughman@hc.msu.edu.

Leading Through Uncertain, Rapidly Changing Times

This is a guest post written by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager, HR Organization and Professional Development

March brought unprecedented change to this large, often slow-moving organization, and it is easy to see why it might feel overwhelming at times. Each day brings new information and impactful changes that leaders must influence and enact without much warning. Additionally, each of us must manage adjustments in our personal lives. Making a proactive effort to take care of yourself will be critical to handling these times effectively with your staff. Staying calm, forward-thinking and encouraging requires you to not allow yourself to become depleted.

You know what this involves: get enough sleep, eat nourishing food,  exercise, and do other things that help to sustain you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll have no capacity to take care of your team and the organization. I am confident that this upheaval in our daily routine will change us in ways we can’t yet imagine and perhaps for the better. Creativity and innovation are often born out of times when we can no longer do “business as usual.” In addition to doing the work of the day, don’t forget to bring humanness to your leadership with these tips for success:

  • Be patient with yourself and others as we navigate this new terrain and recognize gains made, however small.
  • Acknowledge and grieve losses, sharing empathy and compassion as we find our way through.
  • Strengthening our connections is more critical now than ever, so help each other to learn new technology and overcome barriers. Share knowledge and seek help from your peers across the organization.
  • Make an extra effort to connect with your team. Utilize Microsoft Teams to hold daily virtual meetings, share information and provide encouragement. Or just pick up the phone.
  • Learn something new as a team. Have team members “host” the ideas.
  • Stay connected with people who cannot work remotely. They are important to the overall success of your organization and when things get back to normal, you will need them. Think about how you can stay connected in new ways. Try mailing letters or cards.
  • If you are a higher-level leader, providing support for your Chairs and front-line supervisors is critical. Make sure you are connecting with them on a regular basis.
  • Create structured meetings for all and consider one-on-one meetings and small project/team meetings to enhance communication. It’s OK to just “talk.” It is vital, more than ever, to increase positive interactions.

The following paradoxes outlined in the article Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty by Dave Ulrich may be helpful to consider:

  • Avoid the extremes of either over-reacting or under-reacting or as a thoughtful sage once said, “run with patience.”
  • Care for both the individual and the organization.
  • Balance the need for decisive action (be bold) and the need for thoughtful value-based decisions (be calm).
  • Respond to the short-term challenges of the moment and anticipate and plan for the long-term implications.

Along with the obvious challenges, this is also a time of great opportunity if we can remain open. In the Forbes article, Leading In Times Of Uncertainty: How To Engage Optimism And Focus When Nothing Seems Predictable, H.V. MacArthur reminds us that we have a number of options that uniquely present themselves at this time, including:

  • The ability of your team to experience the flexibility that comes from using remote work options.
  • Opportunity for team members to catch up on work and upcoming deadlines.
  • Time for your business to do proactive planning and strategic thinking.
  • An opening for up-skilling team members through training and development.

Eventually, this crisis will pass, and we will move to another new normal. Focusing now on how we are taking care of ourselves, each other and the organization will influence how we come out on the other side. We have been encouraged by the compassion and determination expressed by our colleagues across the organization—continue that good work. While you’re at it, consider sending us your thoughts and suggestions on what is working well so we can share them more broadly at ProDev@hr.msu.edu.


MacArthur, H. V. (2020, March 17). Leading In Times Of Uncertainty: How To Engage Optimism And Focus When Nothing Seems Predictable. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/hvmacarthur/2020/03/16/leading-in-times-of-uncertainty-how-to-engage-optimism-and-focus-when-nothing-seems-predictable/#5ebb3fed47e2

Ulrich, D. (2020, March 12). Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leadership-confidence-times-uncertainty-dave-ulrich/?trackingId=2Xa4HAlp8xcOpEp3RFH/DQ==

Managing Remotely: Leading the Way in the New Normal

This is a guest post by Jennie Yelvington, Program Manager, HR Organization and Professional Development

As many of us adjust to working remotely, the situation also requires a thoughtful, strategic approach from managers. Communication to and within a team is more critical than ever, especially since the landscape continues to change at a rapid pace. People may be feeling unsure, anxious about using new skills, and not quite up to speed as they juggle home and work responsibilities. This can also lead to team members being on edge with each other. It is critical that managers set a tone of clarity, compassion, patience, cooperation, and problem-solving (versus blame). 

VitalSmarts also recommends the following strategies to help managers keep things on track during this unprecedented time: 

  • Frequent and Consistent Check-ins. Check-in frequently and regularly with remote employees. The cadence of the check-ins can vary from daily to bi-weekly to weekly but should always be consistent and entail a standing meeting or scheduled one-on-one.  
  • Face-to-Face or Voice-to-Voice. Insist on some face time with remote employees. When in-person meetings are not possible, try video conferencing technology or pick up the phone to ensure colleagues occasionally see one another’s face or hear one another’s voice.  
  • Exemplify Solid Communication Skills. You cannot overemphasize the importance of general, stellar communication with remote teams. Be a great listener, communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and err on the side of over-communicating. At times it can be ok to have a conversation over the phone, and then email out the details to confirm people are on the same page with you. 
  • Explicit Expectations. When it comes to managing remote teams, be very clear about expectations. This is especially important now, because the “rules” of work have suddenly changed. Never leave people in the dark about projects, roles, deadlines, etc.  
  • Be Accessible. Be available quickly and throughout the day, letting people know when you will not be available. Go above and beyond to maintain an open-door policy for remote employees—keep your calendar up-to-date and use multiple means of technology (Microsoft Teams, email, phone, text, etc.). Remote employees should be able to count on you to respond quickly to pressing concerns.  
  • Mix Up the Tech. Try to use multiple means of communication to connect with your remote workers. Don’t just resort to phone or email but get familiar with video conferencing technologies and a variety of services like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Get skilled at setting up and running meetings using these technologies, as if this was going to be your new reality moving forward.  
  • Prioritize Relationships. Team building and camaraderie are important for any team and remote teams are no exception. I challenge you to go out of your way to form personal bonds with your remote folks. Use check-in time to ask about their personal life, families, and hobbies. Allow team meeting time for “water cooler” conversation so the whole team can create personal connections and strengthen relationships. 

Encourage team members to help each other with technology and other challenges and be sure to recognize people for their effort. Additionally, remember that benefit-eligible MSU employees have access to elevateU, an online learning resources with courses, videos, books and more. There you will find ideas for group activities (look for the Team Talks link under MSU highlighted programs, then look at the Custom tab), learning related to a variety of content areas that could align with development plans, and thousands of books and videos to accelerate learning. Be sure to share with your team what you are learning as well. Learn more about elevateU for professional development while working remotely.

Celebrating HR Women Leaders on International Women’s Day!

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Recognized globally, this momentous day is intended to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women (internationalwomensday.com). This year’s International Women’s Day campaign theme is #EachforEqual, to encourage that collectively each one of us can help to create a gender-equal world.

In 2018, women made up nearly half the U.S. labor force and held more than half of all management, professional, and related occupations. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018). We have come a long way, and there’s still more to be accomplished. Here at MSU Human Resources, we have women occupying five executive positions. We have asked each woman HR executive to share a career tip for career success:

Sharon Butler, Associate Vice President:

“Think and behave in a manner that sends the message you are competent, curious, intelligent, and an independent thinker who is willing to work collaboratively with your colleagues.”

Donna Donovan, Chief of Staff and Director of HR Administration Services:

“Take on new challenges. Don’t be afraid to say yes to a new project or opportunity that excites or interests you, even if you feel you aren’t ready.  This is how we grow, gain perspective and get experience.”

Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director of Organization and Professional Development:

“Take a wide view of career success – a non-linear one. Consider positions that are lateral or even lower level if it offers a chance to learn new skills or lead a different team. Be willing to take on jobs and projects that are new to you. Find leaders who can facilitate that kind of empowerment and run from those who cannot. Finally, think ‘connecting’. Connecting people who have a mutual need or idea can create magic.”

Reneé Rivard, Director of Compensation and Benefits:

“Talk less and listen more. It’s surprising what you actually hear when not talking or thinking about what your response will be.”

Alice Smith, Director of Solutions Center:

“Jobs come and go as you move through your career, but your reputation, specifically whether you are known for behaving ethically and with integrity, will stick with you forever. It is THE single most valuable professional asset you have.”

Thank you to our HR executives for providing such valuable insight. We hope that it serves as encouragement to know that all are capable of success. While our careers are just one aspect of life, women have found success in leadership roles and continue to empower one another each day. With #EachforEqual in mind, we must work together towards a gender-equal world today and every day.

2019 Clerical-Technical Recognition Award Winner

The Clerical-Technical Recognition Award is presented annually to a Michigan State University support staff member performing clerical-technical duties. The recipient is selected from nominations received by the CT Recognition Award Selection Committee. The award is sponsored by the Thomas and Concettina Gliozzo Endowment Fund to recognize outstanding MSU clerical-technical employees.

This year’s winner is Thomi Chrisinske!

Thomi is a secretary for the Department of Communication where her she excels in her position providing leadership, technology, promotional, and human resource support to the department chair, faculty, graduate students, and staff. Exceeding the high expectations of her department, Thomi has been described as an essential component of the success of the Department of Communication. Chairing two standing departmental committees, the Equipment and Space Committee and the Social Media Committee, Thomi exemplifies great leadership by always striving to improve herself and the Department of Communication. With her dedication to the MSU community, Thomi consistently goes above and beyond to uplift those around her. Congratulations to Thomi!

Watch the video below to learn more about this year’s CT Award Winner, Thomi Chrisinske:

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

This is a guest post written by HR Accommodations Specialist, Cherelyn Dunlap.

Michigan State University is a leader in cultivating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.  During the month of October, we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.  Held annually, this observance aims to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many contributions of workers with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities add significant value to the workplace, offering diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success.  This year’s theme “The Right Talent, Right Now” interconnects with the university’s core value of inclusiveness.  It highlights the unlimited possibilities that occur when barriers are removed for individuals with differing abilities.

What can you do to observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month?  Strive to make all employees feel like they belong and are valued for their unique characteristics and perspectives.  Also, realize that October isn’t the only time we can engage and promote awareness of disability employment issues.  We all play an important role in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for their abilities – every day of every month. It is of the utmost importance that the university community is one that is welcoming, recognizing that the talents of all people are a critical part of building an inclusive work culture.

For more information on National Disability Employment Awareness Month please visit the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s website

Job of the week – Secretary II

This week’s job of the week is a Secretary II (#591122) for the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. This position is seeking an individual to provide support for both the Mechanical Engineering main office and the undergraduate advisor program.

The responsibilities for this role include assisting in making travel arrangements for faculty, staff, and students when requested, departmental ordering and processing online registrar forms. Other responsibilities for this role include providing general office support to the undergraduate advisor, entering data and communicating information to faculty, staff, and students.

The ideal candidate would possess knowledge acquired through completion of a high school education with coursework in typing and shorthand; one to three years of related and progressively more responsible work experience in word processing, spreadsheet, database, desktop publishing, calendaring and/or presentation software typing and filing; and may require knowledge of technical or medical terminology and/or technical training related to the field of employment; may require bilingual abilities in a specific language or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For more details on the responsibilities of this position, and to view all our current postings, visit careers.msu.edu. Internal applicants should access postings through the Careers @ MSU tile in the EBS Portal.

Summer is the Perfect Time to Sign-Up for a Professional Development Course!

With summer right around the corner, many students are heading home to refresh, recharge and prepare for another academic year. A quieter campus means you might also have some time to refresh and recharge your professional or personal development goals. Summertime is the perfect opportunity to look at your schedule and figure out which professional development courses available in the coming months interest you most.

Luckily, Organization and Professional Development (OPD) is offering a variety of courses this summer to help you reach your goals. Are you a new or experienced supervisor looking to improve your leadership skills? Or maybe you’re interested in finding out how to leverage your natural strengths and work behavior styles? Whatever your personal and/or professional goals, OPD has a variety of courses to help you succeed.

Courses to Improve Your Skills as a Supervisor or Leader:

Personal Development Courses:

Communication and Customer Service Courses:

You can find all current OPD courses on the HR website. Sign-up through the EBS Portal. MSU support staff should remember that they may have access to Educational Assistance to help with any course registration fees. Questions? Contact HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.

Nominations are now open for the Clerical-Technical Award!

The Clerical–Technical (CT) Award is now open for nominations! This award is given annually to a clerical-technical support staff member. The award is sponsored by the Thomas and Concettina Gliozzo Endowment Fund to recognize outstanding MSU clerical-technical employees.

Past award recipient
Director Emeritus of the MSU Study Abroad program Dr. Charles Gliozzo, MSU Human Resources Associate Vice President Sharon E. Butler, award recipient Michelle Stewart and Clerical-Technical Union President Deb Bittner.

Individuals may be nominated by any member of the MSU community. To nominate an individual, you will need to complete a nomination form and collect a minimum of two support letters (maximum of five) by MSU colleagues. You may include additional information if it supports the applicant’s nomination.

Selection criteria include respect and concern for all members of the campus community, diligence in daily work, significant contributions to the community or public service and innovative thinking. The recipient is selected from nominations received by the CT Recognition Award Selection Committee. The winner will receive the award at a special recognition reception and they will be awarded $1,000 in recognition of their outstanding service.

You have until Monday, June 17 to nominate your candidate. Nomination forms and more details are available on the HR website.

Gear up for Mother’s Day with these special deals and discounts!

Are you prepared for Mother’s Day this weekend? Are you in need of last-minute gift ideas or things to do with mom? All benefit-eligible MSU faculty and staff have access to a variety of discounts and savings through MSU Benefits Plus. And if you’re still looking for something to do with mom this weekend, check out these fun ideas and places to take mom around Lansing.


Capital Prime offers a Mother’s Day brunch buffet and dinner program. You can visit the brunch buffet from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The buffet offers a traditional breakfast, prime rib selections, omelet stations and more. Visit Capital Prime website for more information.

Looking for a family event? Mother’s Day at Potter Park Zoo will have free admission for all moms on Sunday, May 12. The zoo offers a variety of activities like Wings Down Under, Bungee Jump and pony rides. Find more information on the Potter Park Zoo website.

On Saturday, May 11, Michigan Distillery will offer a Mother’s Day Flower Exchange and Planting event. For this event, you should bring flat flowers and your own pot. You will be able to plant and exchange flowers with other moms in the room. Check out Michigan Distillery for more information.

Still searching for that perfect gift? MSU benefit-eligible employees can visit MSU Benefits Plus for a wide variety of savings and deals from jewelry, flowers, special treats and more! Just log into MSU Benefits Plus to access some of the deals and savings below:


  • Looking for a flower arraignment? Save 25% with Blooms Today.
  • Florists.com offers special Mother’s Day selections with gifts baskets, flowers and special treats. Save 25% off on your final purchase.
  • At FromYouFlowers.com you don’t have to wait for Mother’s Day. They offer 25% savings all year round and have special selections for mom.
  • 1800flowers offers a wide selection of floral arrangements and sweet treats for mom. Find the perfect arraignment for mom with 20% off.
  • First in Flowers has multiple flower arraignments and treats for your mom’s special day. Save 15% off your order now.


  • Satisfy her sweet tooth with an order from David’s Cookies. Save 20% on all regular price orders.
  • Find the perfect fruit and cookie assortment with Harry & David. Harry & David offers a variety of treats like a tower of treats, cookie box, truffle sets and more! Get 20% your final purchase today.
  • Jewerly.com has the perfect gift for mom! Visit Jewerly.com to find the perfect pendant, charm, bracelet and more. Save 25% now for the perfect gift for mom!
  • If you’re looking to save on perfume, Perfume Emporium offers $10 off $40 or more. Perfume Emporium offers a wide variety of skin and beauty products.
  • Are you looking to spoil your mom with a spa day? Spa and Wellness offers $10 off a gift card of $50 or more. Find the right spa treatment for mom and a location close to you at MSU Benefits Plus.