Happy National Online Learning Day!

September 15 is National Online Learning Day! Online learning provides convenience, flexibility, and personalization for all learners. Did you know MSU offers FREE online learning opportunities for all faculty and staff? Get access to online resources including books, videos, courses, and more via elevateU. During these times when more MSU employees are working remotely, access to these resources is more valuable than ever.

Access elevateU here or log into EBS and look for the “elevateU” tile under the “My Career & Training” tab. You can access elevateU from your computer or through the Skillsoft Learning App for Android and iOS devices.  

There are programs that cover leadership, IT & desktop, business, finance, human resources, change management, project management, interpersonal skills and so much more. Resources are available in a variety of formats: 

  • Video-based and interactive courses 
  • Videos 
  • Books 
  • Resources to prepare for various professional certifications 

Watch the following video for a general overview of the resources available to you and how to access them:

Need help navigating elevateU? Click here for an additional video on how to use the search function and navigate through the resources available. 

Utilize the resources as reference tools to help answer your day-to-day job questions or as part of your ongoing personal and professional development. Many of the courses are even approved for Continuing Education credits! Remember, all courses are available to current staff and faculty at no charge.  

Happy National Online Learning Day!

Employee Engagement in a Rapidly Changing Workplace

Written by Jennie Yelvington, MSW, ACSW, Program Manager, MSU HR Organization & Professional Development 

Recent research analysis (Quantum Workplace, 2020) seems to indicate that employees are feeling more engaged now than prior to the pandemic. While that certainly isn’t true for everyone, there are a number of variables in this situation that have led many employees to rate their engagement as higher and their leaders as better than in the previous year, including increased communication and a focus on wellness.

Engagement during this time is complicated though, and efforts must be intentional and thoughtful as people struggle with a variety of new challenges.

Here are strategies that can help. 

Frequent, Honest Communication 

When times are ambiguous and rapidly changing, some leaders pull back, gloss over issues, and avoid decisions, which can cause more difficulty. “Cognitive biases, dysfunctional group dynamics, and organizational pressures push (leaders) toward discounting the risk and delaying action.” (Kerrissey 2020). Being straightforward with people about what you know and don’t know is essential, and it can include warnings that the direction could change as new information comes to light.  

Action Step: Share information frequently. Consider brief meetings with your team multiple times per week. This allows all to touch base, ask questions, and share new information. Don’t make them any longer than they need to be and make sure you ask “how” people are doing, not just “what” they are doing. 

Demonstrate Empathy 

The combination of direct honesty noted above must be combined with deep caring. When you do meet with others, make note of their behavior and level of interaction. If they don’t seem like themselves, check-in to see if they’re ok. Without the social contact we usually have, we rely more than ever on our work colleagues for compassion and the sharing of our human experiences. Taking a bit of time to do this helps to increase trust and the sense of being “in it” together. Also, be aware that people may be juggling multiple, additional responsibilities (such as helping kids with schoolwork) while doing their job. As much as possible and if the role allows, consider flexibility in schedules so that people can work when they are most able to focus.  

Action Step: Reflect and support. Take time to think about how individuals who report to you are being impacted by this situation. When people share good news, join in that celebration. Consider what they might be struggling within their individual situation and how you can empathize and offer support or resources. Make sure people are aware of the MSU Employee Assistance Program services available to them. For resources related to flex schedules, childcare, elder care, and more, check out the WorkLife Office. 

Keep an Inclusive Eye to Innovation 

Engage your team in a fresh look at the work before you. What has changed? What has continued? What could benefit from being done differently? You may find that some of your employees have untapped skills that are now very useful or inventive ideas that might successfully move forward in this environment. Create a safe space for people to bounce around ideas and take some ownership in reinvention. Make sure you are listening to ideas from all team members, not just those who think like you. Diversity of thought and experience is what drives innovation. Empower your team to work together to solve new challenges, rather than having them passively waiting to be told what to do. 

Action Step: Set the expectation that all team members stay up on best practices and future trends for their area of work. Set regular meetings (monthly or bimonthly) to share and brainstorm ways to integrate what they are learning. 

Manage Performance and Support Development 

The pandemic has resulted in many changes in how we approach and bring forward our work. Are you and your team prepared to meet the demand? Have you reviewed processes and expectations given the shifting environment, and made the expectations clear to your team? Be aware that employees might need help in developing new skills to carry out the work effectively in the new world. It is not uncommon for people to feel awkward or embarrassed about this need. 

Action Steps:  

  • Consider what materials, equipment, and training employees might need to be effective in this environment. If working from home, talk to employees about their home set-up. Is there something they could get from the office to aid their effectiveness, such as a desk chair or a second screen?  
  • If they are now coming into work, how are things going from a safety and process perspective? Frequently assess the situation. Make a plan to address any unexpected barriers and follow through. Be prepared to address non-compliance with the MSU Community Compact
  • Normalize the learning curve that exists and explore training programs and/or assistance from a colleague that might be helpful. Check out programs available from Organization & Professional Development, AANIT Services, Broad Executive Development Programs and elevateU

Difficult times can often provide opportunities to draw people together around the mission and culture of the organization. Spartans have long been hard-working, problem solvers and there are countless examples of how our teams have risen to the occasion despite shifting ground and tight resources. When leaders exhibit honest, compassionate communication, flexible support, inclusive problem solving, and the ability to respond to changing needs, people are likely to be engaged, even during tough times. 

Sources:

Kerrissey, M. J., Edmondson, A. C., (April 13, 2020) What Good Leadership Looks Like During this Pandemic. Retrieved September 3, 2020, from https://hbr.org/2020/04/what-good-leadership-looks-like-during-this-pandemic 

Quantum Workplace (2020) The Impact of Covid 19 on Employee engagement. Retrieved September 3, 2020, from https://marketing.quantumworkplace.com/hubfs/Marketing/Website/Resources/PDFs/The-Impact-of-COVID-19-on-Employee-Engagement.pdf?hsCtaTracking=1f30c83e-71cc-46e6-b9eb-9d682de56835%7C42c75679-4e54-4ddb-8a6f-87d61a43608b 

New Supervisor Resources

Whether you’re new to a supervisory role or an established supervisor who would like to sharpen your skills, there are many resources available to help. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Become Familiar with Your Responsibilities within Performance Excellence

As you become familiar with your responsibilities for employee goal setting and annual performance reviews, start by going through the online supervisor content regarding the Performance Excellence process. Then, take the 35-minute MSU Performance Excellence Supervisor Course in elevateU and visit the Related Learning section, which includes short videos and challenges on topics such as goal setting and difficult conversations.

Utilize the MSU HR Website

Check out the Administrators and Supervisors area of the HR website, with a particular focus on the toolkits and processes sections. Here, you’ll find information that supervisors need to know about benefits, leaves, hiring, and more. Also, be aware of Support Staff Rules Governing Personal Conduct of Employees.

Familiarize Yourself with Union Contracts

Be sure to read through the union contracts of the people you supervise.

Take Advantage of elevateU Online Learning

Explore the free courses, videos, and books in elevateU designed for new managers.

Visit the HR Source Blog

Read the series of timely leadership blog articles that have been published over the past few months.

Explore the Perspectives of MSU’s Executive Team

Check out President Stanley’s website, as well as podcasts and Spartan Fireside Chats with various MSU executives to better understand the university.

If you find you have additional questions or needs as you continue your professional development as a supervisor, reach out to MSU HR’s Organization and Professional Development department at prodev@hr.msu.edu or 517-355-0183.

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.

Coronavirus: MSU Benefit Resources Round-Up

As the situation and details regarding the coronavirus and its impact continue to unfold and change, we want to make sure you’re aware of various benefit-related resources to help you and your family. Here’s a breakdown of what’s available:

Health Care Resources

  • Teladoc for Online Medical Care: employees and their dependents currently enrolled in an MSU health plan have 24/7 access to a health care professional via web, phone or mobile app. Teladoc is an ideal tool if you’d like to have a doctor evaluate and treat symptoms while minimizing in-person contact. Teladoc doctors are equipped to answer questions about the coronavirus, evaluate your risk, and advise on next steps. MSU employees most commonly get help with cold/flu, bronchitis, allergies, pink eye, dermatology and more. Employees and their dependents who are over the age of 18 can also receive medical care for behavioral health (depression, anxiety, etc.). Learn more about Teladoc and how to sign up.
  • Prescription Refills and Delivery to Your Home: MSU’s prescription drug plan is administered through CVS Caremark, and MSU Pharmacy on campus is a CVS-preferred pharmacy. To help you and your family during this time, CVS Pharmacy and MSU Pharmacy are offering free prescription delivery to your home. Additionally, MSU Pharmacy offers a 90-supply on prescriptions and CVS Pharmacy is waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications at any in-network pharmacy. Learn more about prescription resources.
  • Livongo for Free, Unlimited Diabetes Supplies Delivered to Your Home: Livongo is a diabetes management program completely free to MSU employees, their spouse and dependents. After you sign up, you will be shipped the Livongo Welcome Kit that includes the Livongo meter and all the supplies you need to check your blood glucose. This is an ideal tool to help you receive necessary medical supplies for free without leaving your home. Learn more about Livongo and how to sign up.
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) Care Resources: BCBSM is offering different ways to see a health care professional from the comfort of your home, so you can keep yourself and others safe. Their 24-Hour Nurse Line allows you to speak to a registered nurse if you have questions about the coronavirus or would like free health care advice. Blue Cross Online Visits allows you to have a face-to-face, virtual visit with a doctor 24/7. Options available are based on the MSU health plan you’re enrolled in – find out more here.
  • Employee Assistance Program and MSU Health4U for Counseling: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a confidential counseling service provided at no cost to MSU staff, faculty, retirees, graduate student employees, and their families. The EAP and MSU Health4U are now offering counseling services by either video conferencing or phone. Learn more about counseling services.
  • Food and Nutrition Appointment with MSU Health4U: MSU Health4U is now exclusively offering telehealth video conferencing appointments for their food and nutrition services. Learn more about scheduling a food and nutrition appointment.
  • Tips for Taking Care of Yourself in Times of Uncertainty: the WorkLife Office understands the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus is likely causing stress about the unknown and how best to move forward. Consider these WorkLife Office self-care tips.

Child and Elder Care Resources

Remote Work Resources

  • MSU Guide to Remote Access: visit remote.msu.edu/working website for the most up-to-date information and resources related to remote work options. Find more details about collaboration tools, connecting remotely, FAQs and more.
  • Work-Related Frequently Asked Questions: these FAQs on the HR website will continue to be supplemented and modified as the situation develops.
  • WorkLife Office Tips for Remote Work: the WorkLife Office is working hard to support you during this time by developing a variety of remote-work resources, including blog posts, webinars, and feedback surveys to assist employees. Learn more on the WorkLife Office website.

Professional Development Resources

  • Use elevateU for professional development: while in-person classes through Organization and Professional Development are currently unavailable, elevateU offers free online resources to MSU employees to help you continue your professional development. Find books, videos, courses and more that cover a variety of topics including leadership, change management, communication skills, project management and more. Learn more about elevateU and how to access it.

Find the most up-to-date information about MSU’s response to the coronavirus at msu.edu/coronavirus. Additionally, MSU employees should check the remote.msu.edu/working website for the most up-to-date information and resources for remote work options.

Mentoring in the Workplace

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

Have you thought about participating in mentorship to learn new skills and expand your career network? In mentorship, both mentors and mentees benefit by developing rich and unique networks, and by being able to see tasks, skills and issues from different points of view. 

There are many mentoring structures to choose from, depending on the goals of the mentors and mentees. Below are a few examples.

  1. Traditional – a senior employee teaches a junior employee the skills necessary to succeed in their company. 
  2. Reverse – a less senior or different classification employee mentors “up.”  This is an emerging trend in mentoring, particularly for teaching other employees new technologies, how to use social media, and emerging trends in their field.
  3. Mutual – parties with differences in experience and/or position level are both free to ask questions and learn new skills from each other.
  4. Peer-to-Peer – employees of comparable experience and position assist one another, each bringing their individual strengths and knowledge to the relationship.
  5. Board of Directors – acknowledges that people have different strengths and experiences and learning from multiple individuals may be more helpful than relying on a single source. The mentee selects several “board members” based on the mentors’ strengths.
  6. Informal – an organically developed mentoring relationship.  Any of the above structures may be informal or formal.

Is there an aspect of your career where you would benefit from working with a mentor; or from sharing your knowledge as a mentor? Consider which mentoring structure would best meet your goals and watch for our November article about considerations for selecting a mentor or mentee. 

Find Mentorship Resources on elevateU

Visit elevateU to find free resources on mentorship, including videos, books, courses and more. Access elevateU here or log into EBS and look for the “elevateU” tile under the “My Career & Training” tab. The easiest way to find resources on mentorship is to type “mentor” in the search bar at the top of the page. Learn more about elevateU on the HR website.

Happy National Online Learning Day!

September 15 is National Online Learning Day! Online learning provides convenience, flexibility, and personalization for all learners. Did you know MSU offers FREE online learning opportunities for all faculty and staff? Get access to online resources including books, videos, courses, and more via elevateU. 

Access elevateU here or log into EBS and look for the “elevateU” tile under the “My Career & Training” tab. You can access elevateU from your computer or through the Skillsoft Learning App for Android and iOS devices.  

There are programs that cover leadership, IT & desktop, business, finance, human resources, change management, project management, interpersonal skills and so much more. Resources are available in a variety of formats: 

  • Video-based and interactive courses 
  • Videos 
  • Books 
  • Resources to prepare for various professional certifications 

Watch the following video for a general overview of the resources available to you and how to access them:

Need help navigating elevateU? Click here for an additional video on how to use the search function and navigate through the resources available. 

Utilize the resources as reference tools to help answer your day-to-day job questions or as part of your ongoing personal and professional development. Many of the courses are even approved for Continuing Education credits! Remember, all courses are available to current staff and faculty at no charge.  

Happy National Online Learning Day!