Adjust Your Work Approach for Success During Challenging Times

Written by Danielle Hook, Learning and Development Manager for HR Organization and Professional Development

This past month has many of us experiencing the feeling of “…this again?” Frequent and unexpected changes to priorities, workspaces and expectations can make productivity and focus feel impossible. Perhaps you find yourself working from home with small children (again), adjusting to staffing changes within your team or experiencing feelings of burnout or languishing.

In addition to requiring greater patience and flexibility, we’re finding ourselves called upon to take an alternative approach to how we normally complete our work. Whether you feel like you’re stuck in a pandemic time loop, where each day blends into the next, or you’re struggling to manage your time and projects while in a state of uncertainty, there are a few simple steps that can help guide your work approach during this time.

Have a Plan

If there is a chance you could find yourself pivoting quickly to accommodate a change in your work plan — your child’s daycare closing, a new colleague, uncertainty about whether you’ll be working in-office or remotely — a loose plan can make the transition a little smoother. The reality is that no amount of planning can fully alleviate the physical, mental and emotional drain many of us feel when faced with this much uncertainty. However, with a bit of intention, a sudden change in circumstances can become an opportunity instead of an obstacle. Having a structure in place that allows for adaptability and accounts for your specific circumstances can provide you a clearer path should things change unexpectedly.

Read related article: What’s Your Plan? Six Steps to Align Your Goals with What’s Important to You

Align Expectations With Attainable Goals

Consider how you would define success during this period of time. Identify what might indicate success and align your expectations accordingly. Set truly attainable goals, both personally and professionally. Think about the types of activities or tasks you could reasonably make progress on under the circumstances in which you’re working. Of those things, is there something you can work on that might even bring joy or satisfaction?

Read related article: Adapting Your Goal-Driven Approach During Times of Change

Choose Work That Fits Your Circumstances

This requires some insight into your strengths and work style. Consider the nature of the various tasks on your to-do list. Where possible, prioritize those which hold the highest likelihood of success within your current context. Your supervisor may be able to help with reprioritization and appreciate being informed of your plans. Here are some examples of this differentiation.

  • Some individuals will find the most success with independent work that allows them to engage in spurts and intervals. This work can easily be left and returned to without consequence.
    Examples: drafting documents, working with data and metrics, developing strategy, processing forms.
  • Others may find success using this time for engagement. Making calls and participating in discussions can be a great use of time for someone with busy hands who can’t be in front of a computer.
    Examples: an informal project check-in, idea generation discussions, one-on-ones with your team.
  • Is there a way you can use this time to catch up on things not often prioritized but still important?
    Examples: Cleaning up an inbox, managing or reorganizing documents, getting caught up in Teams.
  • Alternatively, sometimes there are things that can be set up now that benefit your future self.
    Examples: Did you know you can use the Quick Parts feature in Outlook to store templates for email content you use repeatedly? Or, that with Microsoft Planner, you can set up multiple tasks lists, assign them to yourself and others, assign due dates and more? Consider drafting and scheduling email communications that need to be distributed at a future date.
  • Professional development is another option to expand your skillset and engage in learning around the topics that mean the most to you.
    Examples: Virtual courses through HR Organization and Professional Development, Health4U, and IT Training, self-paced elevateU learning programs, professional podcasts, audiobooks, and live webinars.

Additional Resources

It is worth recognizing that each individual situation is unique, and solutions are never one size fits all. Some resources to help guide you through this period are included below, and know there are many additional services available to you as an MSU employee if you’d like further assistance, including Organization and Professional Developmentthe WorkLife Office, the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and Health4U.

Adapting to Change

Rapid Change: Making Your Way Through (blog post)

Strategies to Thrive Through Change (2-minute video)

Determining Your Work Style and Strengths

Everything DiSC: Behavior Styles at Work (3.5-hour Zoom course)

Identify and Maximize Your Strengths (4-hour Zoom course)

Mental Health

Mental Health Matters: Resources from MSU (blog post)

Recognizing and Managing Stress During Times of Change (blog post)

Motivation and Focus

Are You Procrastinating? Increase Motivation and Take Action with These Simple Steps (blog post)

The Art of Staying Focused (on-demand, 30-minute virtual course)

Working from Home with Children

Best Practices for Working at Home with Children

Things to Do to Keep Kids Active, Engaged and Learning While Home

Leadership Blog Series: Bring Meaning and Joy to the Employee Experience Through Job Crafting

Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for HR Organization and Professional Development 

Leaders who understand their role in bringing out the best in their employees make a significant impact on the employee experience, with a positive employee experience now requiring increased effort to recruit, retain and engage. Employees have become less accepting of doing things that may not make sense to them (what is the purpose?), and they will leave organizations to find a better fit.

Job crafting is a practical way to influence the engagement of employees to respond to organizational change more positively, be happier and have greater meaning in all the roles they perform. In turn, the positive experience can enhance the level of innovation, care, service, and productivity for clients, students, and customers.

Think about the explosion in the “craft” economy: beer, distilled spirits, bespoke “fill-in-the-blank.” That tailored experience makes us feel good and allows us to feel greater control and empowerment over some aspects of our lives— especially important when we live in a world that is anything but predictable.

What is job crafting?

The concept of job crafting isn’t all that different from other aspects of the craft economy. Job crafting is an aspect of empowerment that helps employees tailor their work to what brings them joy, adds to their experience and enhances the organization. According to research conducted over the past twenty years, job crafting — in the forms of task, relationship, and cognitive crafting — may be a critical element of engagement and job satisfaction, particularly in today’s workplace.

Task crafting – Changing up responsibilities. Improving the steps, timing, or sequencing of the tasks that make up your job to improve it in some way.

Example: Palmer, a customer service specialist, thought there could be an easier way to get the necessary information from customers. They set up a simple power form to capture key information in a consistent manner. Now there is a simple tracking system with all the key information leading to better resolution with improved response time, enhancing both the employee and customer experience.

Relationship crafting – Changing up interactions. Building relationships around aspects that are important to you with people you would not normally work with.

Example: Jody, a project lead, sought out other employees who were interested in mentoring new employees. She was engaged with the idea and participated in the task force which helped her connect with others from across the organization.

Cognitive crafting – Changing your mindset. Reframing the work to see how the value of the work contributes positively to the organization, the people, or greater society.

Example: Parker, a custodian, understood that his job involved a lot of repetition and was not glamorous. However, if he did not do his job, students could become ill or injured, might feel down about the environment at school or believe they were unimportant to the leaders at their school. By maintaining a safe and pleasant environment, he adjusts his thinking to focus on his incredible influence on the health and well-being of the students — contributing toward their success and helping them to graduate.

The leader’s role in job crafting

As a leader, you can initiate and facilitate the job crafting concept, asking employees for their thoughts and ideas. Design jobs (and job descriptions) that leave room for crafting. Demonstrate an openness to feedback and new ideas. Often, we overlook the true nature of our work and the meaning and joy we can derive from it. A little encouragement from you — and modeling the way — may just make the difference.

Leaders are in a unique position to not only foster beneficial job crafting in their employees but to practice crafting in their own roles to potentially impact numerous employees. Making small changes to your own job can have larger impacts on your organization as well.

Find additional resources to get you started below and reach out to HR’s Organization and Professional Development department at prodev@hr.msu.edu if you’d like further ideas. After you’ve had a chance to introduce job crafting to your own position and team, I’d love to hear your feedback. Contact me directly at margrave@hr.msu.edu to let me know how job crafting is working for you.

Recommended Resources

Note: all names used above are pseudonyms.

Sources

Carucci, R., Shappell, J. (2020). How to job craft as a team. https://hbr.org/2020/03/how-to-job-craft-as-a-team?ab=at_art_art_1x1

Dutton, J.E., Wrzesniewski, A., (2020). What job crafting looks like. Harvard Business Review. March 12, 2020. https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-job-crafting-looks-like

Wrzesniewski, A., LoBuglio, N., Dutton, J., and Berg, J.M., (2013). Job crafting and cultivating positive meaning and identity in work. Advances in Positive Organizational Psychology, Volume 1, 281–302.

Register for an Upcoming Virtual Professional Development Course!

Whether you’ve jumped into the new year with a list of goals to work on or need a little inspiration, HR Organization and Professional Development (OPD) has a variety of online, live courses to help you. Find a list of upcoming courses sorted by topic below.

Additionally, OPD wants to know your training preferences for the upcoming year. Complete this short questionnaire to help us ensure we’re best meeting your learning and development needs.

Business Analysis

Promapp, Interactive Process Creation – February 2 
Learners will continue their process improvement journey and build upon the knowledge and skills learned in Introduction to Process Mapping

Communication

Conflict Management and Non-Escalation: Train the Trainer – Starts January 19 
The goal of this course is to prepare participants to be able to provide instruction on the Vistelar proven methods to help others address the challenges of dealing with conflict and crisis. 

Crucial Conversations – Starts February 8 
Learn how to hold crucial conversations – where emotions and stakes are high and opinions vary. 

Finance and Accounting

Vendors in KFS – February 22 
This class will cover the various types of vendors in KFS and when to use them, how to add and edit a vendor, including documentation required, and tips on searching for a vendor.  

Human Resources

Certified Human Resources Specialist – Starts February 1 
In this five-class series, you will acquire an extensive set of reference materials and resources while building your professional HR network. 

Mitigating Bias in Hiring – February 10 
Learn about best practices and procedures for reducing potential bias in the screening and interview process and obtain tools for increasing understanding and self-awareness. 

Leadership

Engaging Teams for Maximum Performance – January 25 
Learn methods of building trust, setting goals and providing feedback to help enhance employee engagement and working relationships. 

New Leader Development Series – Starts January 18 
Apply now  to join the next cohort of the new, nine-session NLDS. Kicking off January 18, this program equips new leaders with a toolkit of crucial knowledge and resources. 

Strategic Planning – February 17 
Participants will gain a foundational base for implementing strategic planning in a unit.

Management

Building Cohesive Teams – January 26 
Learn methods for building collaboration within a team and skills for influencing team performance. 

Operations

Records Management and Retention at MSU – February 23 
Learn the rules, regulations, and strategies to help manage university records. 

Professional Development

Creating and Sustaining a Positive Workplace – February 15 
This course provides humorous insight into the seven habits of negativity, including tips to stop gossip, techniques for getting along with others, and strategies to reap the many benefits of a positive and engaged workforce. 

Everything DiSC®: Behavior Styles at Work – January 27 
Learn how to build more effective working relationships based on an understanding of different behavioral styles. 

The Power of Habit – February 16  
Learn how habits are created and how to replace undesirable habits with productive ones. 

Ready, Set, Change! – January 26 
This interactive and engaging course is appropriate for anyone responsible for implementing and guiding change in their organizations, such as leaders, project managers and their team members, HR professionals and more. 

You can find all the current virtual Organization and Professional Development courses on the HR website. Class enrollment is completed within the EBS Portal. Employees may use available educational assistance funds towards course fees (if any). 

Common Work-Related Goals with Resources to Help You Achieve Them

As we say goodbye to another year filled with unexpected challenges, now is a great time to take stock of how you’re feeling at work and pinpoint areas you’d like to improve on or change. If you don’t know where to focus your time, start by reading What’s Your Plan: Six Steps to Align Your Goals with What’s Important to You. You’ll learn how creating a personal strategic plan can provide a “vision and structure for your professional life and an anchor for you to connect with during periods of change.”

Sometimes, we set goals that may sound good on paper but aren’t super meaningful on a personal level, which sets us up for failure or significant stress as we try to achieve them. Take some time to clarify what you value most – such as life/work integration, better time management, or meaningful work – so you can focus your time strategically and succeed.

Common Work-Related Goals:

Review the common work-related goals below to see if any resonate with you and use the articles and learning opportunities provided to help you reach them.

What would you like to work on this year? I’d like to…

As you think about what you want to work on in the coming year and beyond, consider tying them to your Performance Excellence goals (for support staff). For more information about how to set yourself up for success as you identify goals, check out this When SMART Meets HARD: Setting Goals that Matter article. 

Turn the Job You Have Into the Job You Want with Job Crafting

What if your supervisor told you that you don’t have to do the job you were hired to do?

We often think of our job as being constrained within the rigid framework of our position description, but these days, with rapid change and shifting expectations now the norm, many roles can’t adapt quickly enough to remain relevant…nor to keep employees inspired and fulfilled at work.

When it comes to work, the way to find fulfillment may be to change how you work, not what you do. Every one of us has our own ideas, natural strengths and a desire to learn new things. Job crafting — a mindset and skill — allows you to shape and redefine your current role in ways that can foster job satisfaction, increased engagement, and greater resilience and thriving at work.

What job crafting is (and what it isn’t)

Traditional job design theory focuses on a top-down process of supervisors designing jobs for their employees. Oftentimes, employees are naturally motivated to customize their roles to better fit their motives, strengths and passions. Job crafting is a way to engage with this process with purpose and intention, utilizing opportunities to actively adjust your tasks and interactions with others.

You still must contribute toward your organization achieving its objectives. You still must complete your work in order to get paid. However, with job crafting, your work will feel more meaningful.

Job crafting is not a one-time event

Job crafting is a fluid process that you engage in over time. It typically falls into three stages.

  1. You’re motivated to craft your job due to one or more factors. For example,
    • a desire for more control of your job or greater meaning for your work
    • a need for meaningful interactions with the people who benefit from your work
    • fulfillment of your passion for an occupation other than your current role
  2. You identify any available crafting opportunities and enact one or more ways of crafting your job, actively adjusting one or more of the following areas:
    • Processes: the number, type or nature of your work tasks
    • People: your interactions with others
    • Purpose: your perception of your work
  3. The crafting techniques you employed then lead to associated outcomes, including:
    • Changes to the meaning of your work and your work identity
      • alignment with personal expectations
      • fulfillment of a valued identity
    • Positive experiences
      • achievement
      • enjoyment
      • meaning
    • Resilience
      • increased competence
      • personal growth
      • ability to cope with future adversity

The 3 Ps: Process, People and Purpose

When job crafting, you’ll want to spend time focusing on step #2 above, particularly taking time to examine if and how you can adjust the “three Ps” of Process, People and Purpose.

Process

Have you ever complained about not enjoying your job and received a response along the lines of, “Of course you don’t like it. That’s why it’s called work?” Yes, there will likely always be aspects of your job that feel boring or mundane, but having a negative attitude toward your work quickly leads to feelings of burnout and disappointment.

Instead, seek out the purpose in your work. Try taking the initiative to bring an exciting new task — no matter how large or small — into your work.

Consider: How do I use my strengths to bring more of myself into my work?

People

Although you typically can’t choose your coworkers, you may still be able to re-craft the quality of your relationships with them. One idea? Share a story of gratitude to build connectivity. Write an email to a colleague describing a memory of a time they used their strengths and skills to make a special contribution to your work or your organization. Be sure to include a lot of details.

Consider: How can I improve my relationships at work so they are more inspiring? How can I interact more with colleagues who inspire me, rather than detract from my quality of life?

Purpose

Don’t wait for someone else — whether it’s your supervisor or your stakeholders — to give you a sense of purpose at work. Purpose is about understanding your impact on others, and developing a story about why you do what you do. Your purpose is a story you tell yourself, and you have the power to craft that story.

For each of your work tasks, ask yourself, “Why do I do this?” You may find you aren’t inspired by your answers. If that’s the case, try to personalize the purpose of each task to discover its larger meaning and purpose.

Consider: What story do I tell myself about why I do my job? How can I make the narrative more inspiring?

Discover the value and meaning of your work

You may assume work satisfaction is primarily about what you do, but more often than not, it’s also related to how you do it. Job crafting can help you learn to see value and meaning in all aspects of your work.

Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work, explains, “Happiness at work comes from the inside out. It’s something we create for ourselves. A lot of people will lose or leave a job and go somewhere else and find that they’re just as unhappy.”

Take the time to apply job crafting principles, and you may discover that your current job offers greater meaning and satisfaction than you thought. Resources to help you get started with this process are included below, and MSU HR’s Organization and Professional Development department can also offer further guidance at prodev@hr.msu.edu.

Recommended Resources

elevateU Monthly Featured Topic: Job Crafting

Job Crafting Questionnaire

OPD Personal Development Courses

YouTube Video: Job Crafting

Sources

https://hbr.org/2021/02/turn-your-boring-job-into-a-job-youll-love

https://medium.com/big-self-society/how-to-be-happier-at-work-without-changing-your-job-3050c8ba4e61

https://positivepsychology.com/job-crafting/

https://positiveorgs.bus.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/What-is-Job-Crafting-and-Why-Does-it-Matter1.pdf

Leadership Blog Series: New Leadership Library and Leader Development Resources

Whether new to a supervisory role or a long-time manager, the best leaders are lifelong learners adaptable to change and flexible in their leadership style. The ongoing changes and unknowns brought on by COVID-19 have made it particularly clear that leaders must embrace the complexity of their roles, which demands new ideas and strategies to stay fresh and ahead of the curve.

Earlier this year, a small workgroup was formed at MSU to explore the learning development needs of those who find themselves leading in this “new normal.” The group identified the need for an easily accessible collection of relevant and applicable self-directed learning resources on a wide range of topics. To assist leaders in navigating challenges and handling their responsibilities with confidence, an online Leadership Library was created in August 2021.

Visit the new, online Leadership Library.

One member of the workgroup, Cindi Leverich, Director of Academic Leadership Development in the Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Development, explains, “As leaders continue to navigate the changing world of work, it is important to have a range of resources available in multiple modalities. The Leadership Library provides busy individuals a convenient list of articles, videos, and workshops on topics key to developing and supporting remote and hybrid teams.”

Updated regularly, the Leadership Library highlights curated content related to timely topics. Ideas for additional, relevant leadership resources are welcome and may be sent to prodev@hr.msu.edu for consideration.

Looking for additional leadership development opportunities?

Danielle Hook, Learning and Development Manager for HR’s Organization and Professional Development (OPD) department, shares, “The importance of professional development cannot be overstated. We also recognize the barriers to accessing meaningful learning are greater than ever. In response, we are exploring creative ways to differentiate our learning solutions to meet the increasingly diverse needs of our learners.”

Learn more about OPD’s new leadership programs and resources below.

New Leader Development Series (NLDS)

Apply now to join the next cohort of this nine-session series. Starting January 18, this program equips new leaders with a toolkit of crucial knowledge and resources.

Sessions cover a variety of topics, including:

  • Leading in a Union Environment
  • Workforce Management and Strategic Staffing
  • Fostering an Inclusive Culture
  • Budget Responsibilities and Ethical Finance
  • Conflict Management
  • and more

Leadership Workshops

In addition to OPD’s popular, established courses around the topics of leadership and management, five new workshops for leaders were recently launched. Currently held via Zoom, registration will soon be available within EBS for the following classes:

  • Building Cohesive Teams
  • Conflict Management
  • Managing and Leading Across Multiple Locations
  • Performance Management for Hybrid Teams
  • Strategic Planning

Find out more about OPD’s upcoming course offerings.

elevateU Leadership Resources

On-demand, self-paced courses, videos, audiobooks and more are available to MSU employees via the free elevateU platform, including a Leadership Development section covering a wide range of leadership topics.

Access elevateU leadership resources.

Have questions regarding the above resources and opportunities? Contact OPD at prodev@hr.msu.edu for additional information.

Leadership Blog Series: Happiness, Well-Being and Psychological Wealth

Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for Organization and Professional Development

Am I happy?

How do I know if someone is happy?

What can I do to influence the happiness of others?

Happiness is subjective — each of us has our own vision of what happiness means to us. The many definitions of happiness and the different topics connected to it can lead us to more questions than answers. As such, is it worth your time as a leader to consider whether your employees are happy and take action to increase happiness within your team?

Happiness and Well-Being

Let’s consider the relationship between happiness and well-being. Happiness is a component of well-being; it can exist without well-being, but well-being can’t exist without happiness.

Happiness contributes toward health and longevity, which can be measured with a number of physiological tests including immune system strength, plaque build-up, and healthier behaviors such as a propensity toward physical activity or wearing a seatbelt.

As a supervisor, this is worth noting as happy employees can lead to lower healthcare costs, fewer sick days, lower turnover, and greater productivity and creativity.

Happiness and Psychological Wealth

Dr. Ed Diener, recognized as an expert on Subjective Well-Being (SWB), posits that being happy provides psychological wealth, stating, “Psychological wealth is your true total net worth, and includes your attitudes toward life, social support, spiritual development, material resources, health, and the activities in which you engage.”

SWB is good for work, families and society as a whole, but it’s important to note SWB doesn’t replace workplace basics: flexibility, respect, having the right tools, knowing the goals…these are all still contributors toward one’s psychological wealth.

Happiness in the Workplace

What brings someone happiness may change over time. Fulfillment in your early 20s often looks different than in your retirement years. What was most critical such as family and employment may eventually transition to health and leisure.

Regardless of where your employees are in their professional and personal journeys, there are key ways you can create an environment that supports their happiness and well-being.

  1. Empower employees to craft their jobs. Provide training and build relationships that are connected to a purpose. Do your employees know how what they do serves the greater good? Can you honor flexibility in working conditions? Research has shown flexibility can contribute to reduced turnover and physical and mental health improvements.
  2. Honor core organizational values and encourage employees to define their own personal core values. While we each have our own core values, organizational values that are practiced, observed, and honored foster happier employees.
  3. Ask employees for help in problem solving workplace issues — then actually implement the improvements to reduce stress and help retain employees.
  4. Foster social belonging. Each work environment has its own microcultures but recognizing each other should be a regular feature. Leading with kudos — both internal and external — can foster happiness and well-being by building positive relationships.
  5. Think positive. Self-sabotaging a positive mindset affects you personally, but as a leader, it also has the added impact of influencing others. You are worthy of success and adequate. You can do hard things. When you feel the need to lament on something — and let’s face it, we all have our moments — be sure you are reaching out to a neutral party to vent or process.
  6. Build healthy habits. From stretch breaks to healthy snack choices, lean into fostering a healthy environment by engaging with Health4U and other resources for MSU staff and faculty. Below are a few ideas to help you get started.

Recommended Resources

Mental Health Matters: Resources from MSU

Compassionate Leadership: Awareness of Mental Health Needs as the Pandemic Continues

Recognizing and Managing Stress During Times of Change

References

Diener, E., Diener-Biswas, R., Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth (Blackwell, 2008). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdxbmVbr3NY

Kelly, L., Berkman, L., Kubzanksky, L., Lovejoy, M. (2021). 7 Strategies to improve your employees’ health and well-being. https://hbr.org/2021/10/7-strategies-to-improve-your-employees-health-and-well-being

Take Action Now to Reduce End-of-the-Year Stress

Ready or not, November is already well underway. When you think about the remainder of 2021, how do you feel? If thoughts of work deadlines, family get-togethers, or planning for the holidays and new year ahead have you feeling overwhelmed or anxious, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are practices and resources we can utilize to help us center ourselves and approach this time of year with a healthier mindset.

Consider Your Sphere of Influence

We all know allowing worry to grow uninhibited can lead to a number of negative consequences, be it with our health, work performance, or relationships. So, why do we allow our minds to spend so much time in a state of worry? In a previous blog post, Jennie Yelvington, Director of MSU Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs, discussed how worry can seem very active — spending time in that mindset can feel like you are working on something productive — but in reality, you are burning through energy that could be better spent.

When you notice yourself worrying about what might happen, stop and ask yourself, “What can I do about it now?” One way to visualize this is the Sphere of Influence.

Graphic representing one's sphere of influence. Three circles are centered on top of each other. The smallest circle in the middle represents "control," the next biggest circle represents "possible influence but no control," and the largest circle represents "no control."

Within the Sphere, there are three areas:

  • No Control. If there is absolutely nothing you can do to change or influence a situation, you can only assess whether you can learn from it, then let it go and refocus on something else. This would apply to things like the weather, supply chain issues this season, or flight cancelations. To reduce feelings of worry and improve your well-being, spend minimal time and energy regarding any matters that fall within this area of the Sphere.
  • Possible Influence but No Control. If there is a step you can take that may influence an outcome, person, or situation, determine what action you can take to maximize that influence, follow through, and then let it go. Resist the temptation to convince yourself that worrying about it means it is within your control.
  • Control. If the issue you are wrestling with is completely within your control, then you have control over your decisions, attitude, and behavior. What action can you take that you’ve been putting off? What self-care practice can you initiate to support your well-being? When you practice shifting your focus and attention to what is within your control rather than allowing what is out of your control to consume your time and thoughts, feelings of helplessness and overwhelm decrease significantly.

Make Yourself a Priority

When asked why we don’t make our well-being a higher priority, the most common answer is: not enough time. Although we can’t add more hours to the day (No Control area of the Sphere of Influence), we can take actionable steps to better manage our time and carve out space to improve our overall wellness (Control area of the Sphere).

Here are a few ideas to help you focus your energy on areas you can control when it comes to your well-being this time of year.

  • Schedule downtime. Block downtime off on your Outlook calendar like you would for a meeting or other work engagement.
  • Be selective. Most of us have an extraordinary number of demands on our time lately. This time of year often brings on even more. Before you commit to anything additional, give yourself a little time to consider: do I really need to do this right now?
  • Get back to the basics. Consider your current relationship with sleep, physical activity, and eating. What are one or two simple steps you could take to improve your physical health? Even something as small as not having your cellphone next to your bed at night or scheduling short blocks of time on your calendar to stretch at your desk can have a tremendous impact. Ensuring your basic, physical needs are met helps ensure a solid foundation for all aspects of your well-being.

Utilize Your Resources

One major goal within MSU’s new strategic plan is to support the “well-being of staff, faculty and postdoctoral research associates at MSU, focusing on creating a best-in-class workplace culture and environment in which excellence and opportunity thrive.” From one-on-one counseling to self-paced learning opportunities, many resources are available to you as an MSU employee to improve your well-being and take care of yourself this year and beyond. Recommendations to get you started are listed below, along with contact information for specialists at MSU who can provide extra support.

Health4U Programs | Register online for free courses including Chair Yoga, Increasing Your Psychological Flexibility, and Understanding Shame and Building Shame Resilience. Health4U also provides a wealth of online resources regarding emotional wellness, food and nutrition, and health coaching.

The Power of Habit Virtual Course | Next offered via Zoom on February 16, and April 13, 2022. Registration is available in EBS.

elevateU | Free, self-paced resources including short videos, online courses and books around a wide variety of topics. Highlighted topics include:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) | Free, confidential counseling for all faculty, staff, retirees, graduate student employees, and their families.

WorkLife Office | Find affinity groups, webinars, and personalized support to help you facilitate success in your many roles and guide you in creating synergy between those responsibilities.

OPD Course Spotlight — The Power of Habit

“If you believe you can change if you make it a habit the change becomes real.” ― Charles Duhigg

Consider this: what would your life look like if you actually did the things you believe you ought to?

Research shows that approximately 40-45% of what we do every day isn’t a result of deliberate decisions but rather out of habit. Habits affect performance more than talent, intelligence or luck, but it can be a challenge to control our habits to get the outcomes we want.

Have you acquired new or different habits throughout all the changes brought on by COVID-19? As we navigate the next phase of our professional and personal lives, University of Southern California research psychologist, Wendy Wood, explains, “We’re going to be faced with two sets of habits: pre-pandemic and during the pandemic. And we’ll have to choose which to repeat.”

As daunting as that might sound, you’re now in a perfect position to decide which habits you want to maintain going forward and any new habits you want to form. MSU HR’s Organization and Professional Development (OPD) department’s workshop, The Power of Habit, can help.

The Power of Habit, presented in a live, virtual format via Zoom, is currently open for registration in the EBS Portal for February 16, and April 13, 2022, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Check out a preview of what you can expect from The Power of Habit.

Based on the bestseller by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit will teach you how habits work and how to develop effective habits using simple and precise skills grounded in science and research. Changing undesirable habits and creating new, healthy ones is not an innate trait nor something dependent on grit and willpower. Rather, habit formation is a skill that can be developed and strengthened. Discover how to master your automatic routines with the belief that almost any habit can be reshaped once you understand how — and why — it was formed in the first place.

Ready to learn more? Register for an upcoming The Power of Habit session in the EBS Portal, or contact OPD at prodev@hr.msu.edu or 517-355-0813 for additional information.

Leadership Blog Series: Leading Strategic Planning

Written by Sharri Margraves, HR Associate Director for Organization and Professional Development 

Strategic planning is a critical aspect for leaders in all organizations, and now that MSU has recently introduced its first strategic plan in decades, you have an opportunity to help drive the results that will continue the upward trajectory of the university. Strategic planning is about change, and as with any change effort, communication and clarity of purpose are essential throughout the process.

It can be helpful to recognize the process of strategic planning as four typical phases: pre-planning, assessment, implementation, and measuring and monitoring.

Pre-Planning

The pre-planning phase is a lot like trying out a new recipe, and the first rule of cooking is to read through the entire recipe before you start. Be sure you have everything you need, and you understand what you need to do. Similarly, with strategic planning, first make sure you have the people, tools, and clarity that will allow your team to be successful before you formally begin. Consider all aspects including who will be on the planning team, general timing, communication cadence and how you will ensure DEI throughout the planning process.

Assessment: Begin Where you Are

Assessment will take the greatest amount of time.

  • What is your organization’s readiness for change?
  • Do you have a current and valid Mission, Vision and Values (MVV, for short)?
  • Can you hear the truth from your employees and stakeholders?
  • Do you need to provide training?

Assessing the organization is a part of the plan that is vital to get right—and your organizational context matters. All the tools in the world will not help if you or your team is defensive about what you might hear. From here, you will begin to develop the tactical plan.

Implementation: Building the Document

Going from assessment to writing the plan… well, let’s just say it takes time. Gleaning the most essential strategic goals or themes from your assessment effort is an iterative process, and multiple people will be involved. You will need to align your MVV and framework and produce a clear and concise “living” document.

For each strategic goal, you will have key objectives. From there, you need to have the tactics that will be needed to reach the objective. Often forgotten: leaders need to connect the dots. These tactics tell teams and individuals what needs to be done by when.

Implementation: Communication

Sure, you’ve thought about the day when your plan would be done. The reality is, now is the point where the real work begins. Cascading the information throughout your organization for implementation while also communicating with your external stakeholders is critical.

Establishing the priority while allowing your team to contribute to the “how” is important because the strategic plan should be parallel to the normal work you are already doing. On an individual level, each person in the organization should know how they will contribute to the responsibilities and tasks that will roll up from tactics to objectives to goal achievement.

Measuring and Monitoring: Review and Revise

What will success look like? As you develop your tactical plan, you will have time/milestones, key performance indicators (KPI) and other measures to indicate you are achieving your goals. Establishing a regular cadence for reporting progress is important to your internal and external stakeholders. Some objectives have a bit of a lag before data can be obtained, which is why you want to have other indicators to ensure you are progressing. Including the measurement in the building phase is important. It’s easy to get excited over goals, only to realize measuring progress is not so easy.

Interested in learning more? Recommended resources are listed below, and the Organization and Professional Development department can be reached at prodev@hr.msu.edu for specialized support.

Recommended Resources

MSU Strategic Plan

Strategic Planning Checklist

Business Orientation: Strategic Organizational Goals | elevateU course (50 minutes)