Written by Sharri Margraves, Director for HR Organization and Professional Development
At the retirement party for one of my former colleagues, they reflected that the main thing they were looking forward to was “never being responsible for another human being again.” And they meant it. As leaders, it’s important to recognize the significant responsibilities of our roles, with impacts on both the organization and the individuals with whom we serve.
It has always been challenging to be a good leader, and this is not going to get easier anytime soon. The incredible shifts in the past two years will continue to play out within our teams, departments and units as we move to understand the full capabilities of remote work (including “hybrid” work) and learn what our stakeholders want from their experiences with us.
Fulfilling the Goals and Objectives of MSU’s Strategic Plan
As you consider MSU’s strategic goals and objectives, leaning into new concepts about work, productivity and satisfaction will require a paradigm shift. Not only are external forces pushing this, but the university is also pulling us toward a new mindset focused on growth, and this means change.
Consider MSU’s strategic goal of faculty and staff success: Creating an environment in which excellence and opportunity thrive will attract and keep talent and create conditions where staff and faculty can do their best work, individually and collaboratively. We will develop the flexible, supportive, inclusive workplace required to respond to the aspirations and needs of every employee.
As employees integrate career goals with efforts to create a meaningful life for themselves and their families, they will expect — and we, as supervisors, will deliver — ongoing opportunities to grow and develop.
Remote Work and Flexibility
We are working in the most disruptive workforce changes since WWII, dubbed “The Great Resignation”. Research shows that 90% of employees expect to have flexibility in their work, and 54% are planning to leave their position if they don’t get it.
In the coming weeks, you will hear more about what MSU intends to do about remote work from a policy perspective, but that is only part of the equation. As with every policy, you can either hide behind it, or you can embrace it. I challenge you to embrace the new remote work policy in the spirit of our strategic goals. We are working with, and are, professional adults — and adults know when something does not make sense and know they need to be accountable for their actions. Be creative and innovative as you lean into implementing this new policy in your area and working toward better fulfilling the university’s goals and objectives for staff success.
A word about flexibility: not all jobs are going to be remote-friendly. Approximately one-third of our jobs will not offer remote work capability. However, most jobs can have some flexibility, at least at some point in the year. Think broadly about the organizational culture you want to thrive in — thrive…not simply endure — and do the same for your staff. It may be more challenging, but it also can also lead to greater rewards.
Take a Deeper Dive
Consider the following ways that you, as a leader, can help MSU meet our collective strategic goals and objectives through the lens of the updated remote work policy:
- Examine the value of an employee’s work and not the “busy work” a person brings to their role. How can you maximize that value?
- What is the maximum and minimum flexibility for each position? Each team?
- Is the flexibility the same during the full year, or can summer months or breaks be different than the academic year?
- Do you really know what your stakeholders want and expect and the services they need?
- Can you flex starting times, hours, days?
- Have you already decided what is “right” or are you open to new possibilities?
- Consider the individual as well as the team dynamics. What can change to provide flexibility for all? Did you ask your team to help devise the strategy?
- What are the core times you might expect people to attend meetings (and is the meeting effective and productive, or is it casual and meant to just connect)? Global working hours help everyone be flexible.
- Can you accommodate a “split shift”, with the employee able to have alternate times?
- What communication plans will make you more effective? Effective communication isn’t a one-way process, and employees have responsibilities here as well.
- What role do expectations have for the team? Individuals?
- What collective development and individual development will foster the kind of organizational culture that will help us meet our strategic goal?
Additional resources are available to support you as you navigate integrating MSU’s new remote work policies with your team.
MSU Remote Work Policy – Important documents, resources and FAQs
Remote Work Supervisors’ Discussion Guides
- Getting Started: What Is the Work?
- Promoting Equity and Understanding Bias in Remote Work Decisions
- Revisit and Re-evaluate
Instructor-Led HR OPD Courses
- Managing and Leading Across Locations | May 4 OR June 15, 2022
- Performance Management for Hybrid Teams | May 18 OR June 22, 2022
- Ready, Set, Change | April 21 OR July 19, 2022
Leading From Anywhere: How to Build High Performing Remote and Hybrid Teams (56-minute recording of live event)
Working Remotely – Curated Resources (Self-paced courses, videos, books)
Kroop, B., McRae, E.R., January 12, 2022. 11 Trends that will shape work in 2022 and beyond. Harvard Business Review blog post. https://hbr.org/2022/01/11-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2022-and-beyond
Ascott, E., October 19, 2021. 90% of workers want flexibility. Companies aren’t delivering (This could be a disaster). https://allwork.space/2021/10/90-of-workers-want-flexibility-companies-arent-delivering-this-could-be-a-disaster/