Connected Through Crisis: Why an Interdependent Approach to Leadership is Vital

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

We are part of a large, complex system and a network of teams has stepped up to address the multitude of issues that have arisen at this time. It is clear that no one unit or individual can solve these problems on their own. It’s not enough to just embrace that concept theoretically. We are called to share knowledge and build connection so that we can be as responsive as possible at this critical time. 

Here are action steps for you to consider:

1. Focus on Problem-Solving vs. Blame

When information changes at a rapid pace, mistakes will be made by you and others. That is our current reality even though we do our best. Be kind to yourself and others by moving quickly from the initial emotional reaction to a focus on problem-solving and the next steps. In many ways, we are learning as we go, and having a mindset that encourages learning from mistakes with less fear of failure can be helpful. Check out this upcoming elevateU Live Event on May 13 called The Get Better Mindset to learn more.

2. Maximize Strengths

As you go about assigning work at this time, think about who would most easily be able to carry out the work without having to dramatically expand their skillset. Everyone is dealing with a lot right now and efficiency will increase if we line up work in this way. When people do need to take on new tasks that have a learning curve, think about whether there are other colleagues who can help them get up to speed quickly and without judgment.

3. Reach Out to Colleagues

Connecting with colleagues across our networks is important for several reasons. First, it is a morale booster just to make that connection and share experiences. Beyond that, it may fuel new ideas, create opportunities to work together on projects and allow for sharing information regarding needed resources and the changing landscape.

4. Make Sure People Have What They Need

Gallup research late last month showed that only 52% of workers strongly agree that they feel well prepared to do their work. When you connect with your team and your boss, make sure you are sharing critical updates, reviewing material and equipment needs, connecting people with educational support like elevateU, and clarifying expectations in this unusual time. People may not just tell you if they don’t know how to do something. Make it safe for them to have the discussion. Equally important, don’t forget to check in on how they are holding up emotionally during this challenging time. Feelings such as grief and anxiety are common and empathy and compassion from a leader goes a long way.

5. Provide Context

Whether you are talking to your team, your leader, or other colleagues, it is helpful to share context. Starting a new project? Let others know why and what you are hoping to achieve. Assigning a new task? Be sure to share what problem you are trying to solve or need you are trying to fill. Asking your boss for resources? Let them know the impact you anticipate and how it will align with priorities. Sharing this information is likely to generate new ideas, prevent wasted time, and help people feel motivated to be involved.

6. Make Decisions without Certainty

In this rapidly changing time, we can’t stand still. Decisions need to be made without knowing exactly how the long game will play out and getting input from subject matter experts on your team and elsewhere can really help. Focus on doing the next right thing and be prepared to pivot as needed.

7. Deliberate Calm and Bounded Optimism

In the article Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges the authors highlight two important leadership characteristics. “Deliberate calm” refers to the ability to stay steady in a fraught situation and think strategically about how to navigate. It requires humility and being fully present. “Bounded optimism” refers to confidence combined with realism. Excessive confidence despite obvious difficulty results in a lack of credibility and being dismissive of people’s experience. Instead leaders should acknowledge the challenges while expressing confidence that we can find our way through together, and then listen when others offer ideas. Side note: in order to be able to do either of these, you need self-awareness and good self-care strategies. Taking care of yourself helps you to stay steadier and take better care of others. Consider utilizing the many emotional wellness resources available from the MSU EAP and Health4U.

This time calls on us to shift from being fiercely independent and siloed, to embracing interdependence and collaboration. With a shared appreciation for each other’s capabilities and experience, and an eye to how we can best help each other forward, we can meet the challenges before us today and into the future. Perhaps psychologist Erik Erikson said it best: “Life doesn’t make any sense without interdependence. We need each other, and the sooner we learn that, the better for all of us.”

The following books in elevateU may be helpful:

Sources:

D’Auria, G., & De Smet, A. (2020, March). Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges. Retrieved from https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/leadership-in-a-crisis-responding-to-the-coronavirus-outbreak-and-future-challenges

Harter, J. (2020, April 17). How Leaders Are Responding to COVID-19 Workplace Disruption. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/307622/leaders-responding-covid-workplace-disruption.aspx

Taking Care of Your Team and Yourself During the Pandemic

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

There are many issues leaders need to be aware of in this unprecedented time in order to help themselves and the people they lead stay as steady and effective as possible.

Issue 1: Uncertainty
Most like to have a sense of control over their work and lives. Many may react to the vast number of unknowns we are currently facing with anxiety, foggy brain, irritability or fear. Leaders can help allieviate these feelings in the following ways:

  • Over-communicate. Have regular check-ins, forward relevant emails to your team (for example, many of the DDC announcements) and send your team emails summarizing non-confidential information from your leadership meetings.
  • Be honest. Tell employees what you don’t know. It is vitally important to share information, but often in times of rapid change, you honestly won’t have all the answers; reassure them that you will share information as soon as it is available.
  • Be transparent, clear and concise about challenges, then engage the team in problem-solving mitigation strategies.
  • Remind them of what isn’t changing. What aspects of the work and team are unchanged? Even broad statements like our commitment to safety, teaching and research will serve as reminders and can help guide people. Reassure them that this time of tremendous uncertainty will pass.
  • Encourage people to be kind and offer grace to each other. Expect the same of yourself. A bit of empathy goes a long way.
  • Celebrate victories. Did someone learn new technology? Meet an urgent deadline? Facilitate an important collaboration? Recognize and celebrate these victories, even the small ones.

Issue 2: Connection
Some people are completely isolated in their homes, others are working on-site but without coworkers and most are under high pressure with family and other demands. All can feel lonely and overwhelmed. The following tips encourage connection:

  • Remember everyone. Connect with everyone on your team regularly, along with essential stakeholders. This situation will end at some point, and re-entry will be smoother if everyone still feels like a vital part of the team.
  • Treat everyone with respect and set that expectation with your team. Sometimes it’s easier to be uncivil when communicating virtually, which makes it even more important to be explicit in your expectations and to model inclusive, respectful behavior.
  • Have some fun. Staff meetings may involve a specific agenda, but don’t forget to also check-in to see how people are doing, not just what they are doing. Try to send a funny (work-appropriate) meme via chat, share an uplifting story or offer a word of encouragement. Groups across MSU have started virtual coffee hours, networking opportunities and more to stay connected. What could you initiate with your team to stay connected?

Issue 3: Decision Making and Empowerment
It can be daunting to make decisions when there are so many unknowns, yet a lack of decision making can cause significant problems. The following guidance may help:

  • Let MSU’s mission, departmental goals and your principles guide you. We must do the best we can with the information we have and understand that a different decision may be necessary tomorrow if new information comes forward.
  • Trust your team to use their expertise to figure things out. It isn’t necessary to have every answer before starting something. Allow people to bring their energy to tackling problems and supporting each other. Check-in regularly, provide parameters and offer support.
  • Identify allies and constituents that you need to stay in touch with as you make decisions. Think systemically. Who else could be impacted by this? What unintended consequences could arise? Who else might contribute important information? More than ever, this situation has highlighted our interconnectedness. Don’t go it alone.

Issue 4: Perspective
While sugar-coating or denying reality is not helpful, you can acknowledge challenges and still stay positive. John Maxwell said, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” Consider the following:

  • Talk about what is going well, not just the challenges.
  • Encourage people to utilize their strengths and help each other.
  • What opportunities are available for your team? Some could develop new skills, document or improve a process, create a new program, or take on a project they previously didn’t have time for. Others might have a chance to clarify priorities or boundaries or develop a habit of better self-care.
  • Acknowledge that there will be days with low productivity. We’ve never been through anything like this before, and we are all doing our best. Some days you might be highly productive, and on others, it might be a victory to do the bare minimum and get through the day.

We are all part of MSU. Being kind to ourselves and others is essential as we adapt to the current situation. Eventually, we will be back with lessons learned, and perhaps lasting changes as we move into the future. For now, connect with others, consider utilizing the MSU Employee Assistance Program for additional support, and reach out to Organization and Professional Development if we can help with skill-building, leadership challenges or team effectiveness. Most of all, take care of yourself, your team and your loved ones. You’ve got this.

Individual and Team Resources in elevateU

Looking for ways to grow and develop your team while helping everyone stay connected during this time? elevateU has online options available for both individual and team development, including Team Talks, Monthly Featured Topics and Desktop/Productivity Tools. Learn more about how these resources can help you and your team:

Team Talks

Team Talks offer a series of guides and highlighted short videos designed to help drive self-reflection and discussion. Each Team Talk guide has three sections to encourage self-reflection, discussion points for a team, and some suggestions for how to implement ideas to action individually and as a team.

Access Team Talks directly here.

How to Use:

  • Once at the Team Talks section, choose a topic from the categories on the left. Go to the Custom tab to find the related guide. Review the the guide and the highlighted video linked to on the left side of the guide.
  • Individual Activity: view the brief video and consider the Self-Reflection questions included in the Team Talk guide.
  • Team Activity: watch the video before a meeting and/or as a team during a virtual meeting and use the Team Talk questions as a guide for discussion. The Ideas for Action section provides some considerations for putting ideas into actionable behaviors, for both individuals and entire teams. Assign topics to team members to lead the discussion to further enhance collaboration. Revisit the topic in the next team meeting by asking how employees were able to apply what they learned.

Monthly Featured Topics

Monthly Featured Topics are a curated list of resources – such as short videos, courses, book summaries, and more – around a specific skill or topic. New topics are rolled out the first week of each month and the previous month’s topics are also available. April’s topic is Time Management – be sure to check out these timely resources.

Access Monthly Featured Topics directly here.

How to Use:

  • We recommend a 30-minute online course “The Art of Staying Focused,” which covers relevant segments such as “Blocking Out Distractions” and “Adjusting Your Focus When Circumstances Change.” 
  • Also consider one of the highlighted book summaries, The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer,” which provides a brief overview. The whole book is available in elevateU for free as well.
  • Team Activity: have team members view the resources and prepare to engage in a discussion as a team around the subject—interesting thoughts and ideas, ways to apply the concepts, etc. Further enhance collaboration by assigning a monthly topic to one or more team members to research, discuss and share with the rest of the team during a regularly scheduled team meeting.

Desktop and Productivity Tools

The Desktop and Productivity Tools section highlights a few options from the vast library of other desktop, IT, and productivity-related assets and are geared to a variety of skill levels. Content is organized by a specific tool (e.g., Teams Office 365, Excel, Word, OneNote).

Access Desktop and Productivity Tools directly here.

How to Use:

  • Individual Activity: Have you always wanted to learn how to utilize OneNote better or how to create masterful charts in Excel? Now is the time to tackle those topics individually, especially for any items included in your annual performance goals. 
  • Team Activity: Consider assigning one or more team members to learn more about a specific tool and do a “teach-back” for the rest of the team. Are there particular tools that could benefit your team now or help prepare the team for an upcoming project? This strategy creates an excellent framework for collaboration and connection outside the regular virtual team setting, boosts communication and presentation skills, and also creates a network of “experts” on your team for specific tools.

Have questions or want to discuss additional options?  Contact Organization and Professional Development at prodev@hr.msu.edu.

Leading with Emotional Intelligence: It’s more important now than ever

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

In these uncertain times, many are struggling to find their footing and feel confident in the new normal. Demonstrating compassion and self-awareness, and effectively navigating emotions (yours and others) are priority skills for leaders at this unique time. It is also important to remember that anyone can be a leader regardless of title, and the current situation provides an opportunity to demonstrate just that.

In the Daniel Goleman book Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, we learn that “while IQ and technical skills may help you get a foot in the leadership door, it’s emotional intelligence (EQ) that is often the stronger predictor of exceptional leadership. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as a set of skills that enables us to understand emotions—what they are, what they mean, and how they can affect others.”

Fortunately, Emotional Intelligence is something that can be learned, and we have many resources in elevateU to help you do just that, including the following:

  • To get a basic understanding of emotional intelligence, you can view the following brief videos from author Travis Bradberry: Emotional Intelligence Defined and Emotional Intelligence can be Learned
  • In the course Leveraging Emotional Intelligence you’ll learn from bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and others about the components of EQ, why it is particularly important for leaders, and how to build related competencies.
  • The Harvard Business Review audio book Power & Impact: Emotional Intelligence explains “how wielding power affects your emotions and decision making and helps you avoid the traps that lead to negative consequences. With the latest psychological research and practical advice from leading experts, you’ll learn how to use soft power to persuade others, fix unhealthy power dynamics in your team, use compassion to connect better with others, and remain ethical in your choices and actions.”
  • If you like learning with more of a gaming component, check out the Challenge Series exercise Emotional Intelligence at Work. You will be placed in the role of product manager and will need to make choices as to how to respond to different scenarios.
  • Last but not least, don’t miss the Live Event offered through elevateU on Thursday, April 23rd, titled The Power of Insight: How Self-Awareness Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life. Organizational Psychologist and best-selling author Tasha Eurich, whose research reveals that when leaders make the brave decision to improve their self-awareness, they become empowered to bust through barriers, make better decisions, and engage and motivate their teams.

These are just a few of the options available on this topic through elevateU. To see a more complete list, type “emotional intelligence” in the search bar on the home page.

Whether you are in a formal leadership role, aspire to be, or are interested in leading from wherever you work, strengthening your emotional intelligence can boost your career, facilitate team functioning, and strengthen the organization.

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.

Sources:

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.

Online Resources, Toolkits and Courses for Supervisors and Managers

Are you a supervisor or manager looking for opportunities to help you grow in your leadership role? Whether you’re a brand-new supervisor or an experienced manager looking for resources to develop your skills, there are tools available to help you. Information is available in various formats to fit your schedule and learning style including in-person professional development courses, online resources and toolkits on the HR website.

In-Person Professional Development Courses

  • Communication Strategies for Supervisors on March 12
    One of the non-negotiables for successful leadership is being an effective communicator. Many leaders believe they do communicate effectively, but what most leaders do not understand about communicating with their team is that it is not just about what is said. It is about how it is said, when it is said, to whom, did the receiver understand the message in the way it was intended, and on and on. To lead successfully today, leaders must be able to persuade, inspire, listen, articulate the big picture, and create teams of people who buy into and trust the sender. Learn more about the Communication Strategies for Supervisors course.
  • Manager as Coach on March 12
    Successful managers today understand the importance of coaching in the workplace to improve productivity, loyalty, and results. Instead of telling team members what to do, or just expecting them to perform, it is important to guide, discuss and encourage – in other words, coach. Learn more about the Manager as Coach course.
  • Leading Change on March 31
    Effective leadership is imperative in times of transition, regardless of the nature or source of the changes you’re experiencing. This session will enable you to understand the phases of change, deal with resistance, build support for change, and communicate more effectively to reduce resistance and build change adeptness in staff members. Learn more about the Leading Change course.
  • Managing Meetings on April 22
    With company resources tighter than ever, frivolous meetings are simply not an option. Yet they continue to occur more often than ever. And too many unproductive, wasteful meetings create a major drag on staff morale and motivation, thus affecting productivity and turnover. And, if you are the organizer or leader of meetings, you simply cannot afford to look unprofessional. This course will help you better plan, lead, and follow through on your meetings and enhance team productivity, coordination, and cohesion. Learn more about the Managing Meetings course.
  • Building Capacity for Resilience as a Leader on April 23
    Leaders need to be increasingly resilient to the steady stream of challenges, struggles and setbacks that are part of our work. Our success depends on our individual and collective ability to bounce back when things don’t go as planned, gain important new knowledge from failures, and respond quickly and effectively when we need to chart a new course. Leaders can dramatically improve their effectiveness by gaining a foundational understanding of healthy psychological functioning and developing practical skills to increase their level of personal and professional resiliency. Learn more about the Building Capacity for Resilience as a Leader course.
  • Everything DiSC: Management on April 28
    The focus of Everything DiSC: Management is a deeper understanding of oneself, as this is the first step to becoming a more effective manager. The DiSC Management profile will help managers understand the preferences they have as a manager, thereby helping them understand when they are a strength, and when those preferences could turn into a bias against other, equally valuable, work styles. The profile also teaches how to observe behaviors in colleagues, employees and clients to recognize their DiSC styles and how managers can adapt their behavior to other DiSC styles in order to manage more effectively. Learn more about the Everything DiSC: Management course.
  • Emotional Intelligence in Leadership on April 29
    A strong leader ignites motivation and unleashes productivity creating an environment in which individuals want to “follow”. A person with high emotional intelligence has mastered self-management and interpersonal dynamics. Combine the two and the result is an emotionally intelligent leader! Attend this seminar and learn the link between leadership and emotional intelligence. Learn more about the Emotional Intelligence in Leadership course.

Online Resources with elevateU

The elevateU portal is full of online resources including eBooks, videos, courses and more – all available to you for free 24/7. Want to learn more about optimizing team performance, cultivating creativity or processing change? You’ll find resources on these topics and much more in the elevateU portal. Use these tools to help you build your own skillset as a leader or share these resources with your team to help them reach their professional goals. Learn more about elevateU and access here.

Toolkits on the HR Website

The HR website contains a wealth of information useful to those in a supervisory role, including toolkits for various processes. Whether you have questions about how to hire support staff, want an overview of benefits options or need to know deadlines for payroll processing, these toolkits are available to assist you.  Find toolkits for supervisors on the HR website.

Upcoming Supervisor Professional Development Courses

As a supervisor or manager, it’s important to keep learning in order to build a successful team and keep your employees engaged. Whether you’re brand new to your leadership role or an experienced supervisor looking for resources to develop your skills, we offer a variety of classes to help you grow in your career. Stay on track with your personal and professional goals by taking one of these upcoming courses.

Fundamentals of Supervision – March 11

Supervisors are a main determinant of overall performance, retention, and morale in an organization. This session will help participants with less than three years of supervisory experience learn fundamental skills to become a successful supervisor.

Communication Strategies for Supervisors – March 12

One of the non-negotiables for successful leadership is being an effective communicator. Many leaders believe they do communicate effectively, but what most leaders do not understand about communicating with their team is that it is not just about what is said. It is about how it is said, when it is said, to whom, did the receiver understand the message in the way it was intended, and on and on. To lead successfully today, leaders must be able to persuade, inspire, listen, articulate the big picture, and create teams of people who buy into and trust the sender.

Manager as Coach – March 12

Successful managers today understand the importance of coaching in the workplace to improve productivity, loyalty, and results. Instead of telling team members what to do, or just expecting them to perform, it is important to guide, discuss and encourage – in other words, coach.  This session is geared to help leaders understand the importance of being a successful coach.

Creating an Inclusive Environment – March 17

While this course is for everyone, it’s especially important for leaders to understand how to create an inclusive working environment. First, you will work to understand and identify categories associated with the various labels we apply to ourselves and others. Second, you’ll consider the ways in which these categories apply to you and how this shapes your interactions with others. Finally, you’ll then be introduced to an exercise designed to enhance self-awareness and bridge connections.

Supervisor Strategies for Performance Planning – March 17

As a supervisor, it is important that you sufficiently prepare and work collaboratively with your employees to make the Performance Planning portion of Performance Excellence successful. In this program, you can expect to learn strategies to link university and departmental priorities to the employee’s role, clarify expectations, write effective SMART goals, identify skill gaps, create a development plan and increase engagement in the process.

Leading Change – March 31

Effective leadership is imperative in times of transition, regardless of the nature or source of the changes you’re experiencing. This session will enable you to understand the phases of change, deal with resistance, build support for change, and communicate more effectively to reduce resistance and build change adeptness in staff members.

New Year, New Professional Development Courses!

Do you have any goals for 2020? Chances are if you do, they are likely centered around self-improvement. One way to enhance your work experience and get the most out of this year professionally is to take professional development courses! Find courses through Organization and Professional Development (OPD) to help you reach your personal and professional development goals.

Upcoming Courses:

Creating and Sustaining a Positive Workplace – Wednesday, February 5

Turnover, stress-related illness, and disengagement are signs of a problematic workplace and according to the most recent Gallup polls, nearly 70% of employees are unhappy or disengaged at work. 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.

From Distracted to Productive – Wednesday, February 5

Email. Interruptions. Project transitions. Office clutter. Social and other media. Text messages. Even family and friends. These seven “distractors” sometimes make it almost impossible to get anything done. But with some forethought and effective strategies, as well as some personal discipline, it is more than possible to find your focus once again, even in a hyper-distracted world. Learn “game plan” ideas for getting and keeping your distractors under control and finding critical “focused productivity” time each day, leading to improved performance as well as clarity of mind and purpose.

Managing Meetings – Wednesday, February 12

With company resources tighter than ever, and staff and management busier than ever, frivolous meetings are simply not an option. Yet they continue to occur more often than ever. And too many unproductive, wasteful meetings create a major drag on staff morale and motivation, thus affecting productivity, turnover, and the corporate “bottom line”. If you are the organizer or leader of meetings, you simply cannot afford to look unprofessional when you are “on stage” in a competitive or political environment. Use this program to better plan, lead, and follow through on your meetings and enhance team productivity, coordination, and cohesion.

Crucial Conversations – Wednesday, February 12 and Thursday, February 13

By learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), you’ll begin to surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on your decisions with unity and commitment. Learn step by step tools for promoting an open, honest dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics—at all levels of your organization.

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership – Wednesday, February 19

A strong leader ignites motivation and unleashes productivity creating an environment in which individuals want to “follow.” A person with high emotional intelligence has mastered self-management and interpersonal dynamics. Combine the two and the result is an emotionally intelligent leader!

Honing Your Emotional Intelligence – Wednesday, February 19

Isn’t it interesting how some people have a seemingly natural talent for handling themselves and/or others with ease? It is an amazing feat considering our high stress, multi-tasking, spread-too-thin world today. Most likely, these individuals have mastered the principles found within Emotional Intelligence. The essence of Emotional Intelligence is our ability to identify and manage our own emotions and our ability to identify emotions in others and manage interpersonal relationships.

Crucial Accountability – Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20

This two-day course teaches a step-by-step process for enhancing accountability, improving performance and ensuring execution. A combination of role-playing and interactive scenarios allows participants to practice how to talk about violated expectations in a way that solves problems, improves relationships and improves team and organizational effectiveness.

You can find all the current OPD courses on the HR website. Sign-up through the EBS Portal. Questions? Contact HR Solutions Center at SolutionsCenter@hr.msu.edu or 517-353-4434.

How to Become a Mentor

This is a guest post written by Kathie Elliott, Sr. HR Professional.

Having a mentor can make a big difference in someone’s career. You may want to consider becoming a mentor if you have experiences and skills to offer. Even if you are early in your career or new to your position, you still have knowledge to share.  Mentorships take many forms, including mentoring up (such as sharing technical or emerging best practices with more experienced employees), peer mentoring (such as onboarding a new teammate), or mentoring a returning or new professional (such as helping a colleague who experienced a break in their career). Many could benefit from your experience, especially at MSU where we work with student employees, emerging faculty and/or researchers, or employees moving between administrative and academic positions.

If you are ready to mentor, consider:

  • Your area(s) of expertise –
    • Distinguish between skills you have used in the past (verify their current applicability today), and those you are confident still represent best practices.
  • What you would like to experience or learn during the mentorship.
  • How much time you can commit, and for what period.
  • How many mentees you would like to work with (individually, or as a group).
  • Whether you already have someone in mind and, if so, how to approach them.
  • Your preferred meeting format (e.g., networking event, activity, shared learning experience, coffee, etc.).
  • How much structure you would like (e.g., a mentorship developed over occasional calls and meetings, a just-in-time mentorship where every contact has a specific and time-sensitive goal, or a highly structured mentorship with a formal arrangement under very specific perimeters ).

No matter your preferences, there are steps to take to be ready when an opportunity arises:

  1. Identify your areas of expertise and ask others for feedback, if necessary.
  2. Model continuous learning. Upgrade your skills and become familiar with different learning styles.
  3. Consider your communication style and how that may help or impede a mentorship.  Are you comfortable sharing your experiences and emotions even though they may be somewhat embarrassing? If not, begin pushing yourself beyond your comfort level so you are able to fully share your experiences and their impact on you professionally and personally.
  4. If you have work habits or professional relationships that could be improved, address them now so you are at your best.
  5. Practice giving feedback and offering advice. Do you sense that, despite your sincere desire to help others, your efforts are misinterpreted? Seek out someone you admire for their people skills and allow them to mentor you in the art of communicating to influence. Consider taking a class such as Crucial Conversations, or reviewing online resources in elevateU.

Mentoring should always involve willing and interested parties with an expectation of discretion, and unrelated to the employee’s work status or position. Those who may influence an employee’s position or wages should not serve as a mentor to that employee.

If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested in these previously published articles about mentorship: