Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On a street named Shaffer Rd

On September 6, 2012, I took a break from unpacking my new rental house to head to Staff HR and participate in my new employee orientation.  It had been a long journey driving from Alabama to California.  Having just left a university and community that I loved to start a new chapter at UC Santa Cruz, I must admit that I wondered if my new community would welcome and support me as much as my last one had.  Amy Kile greeted me with a beaming smile and outreached hand as I came into the lobby of Staff HR.  As I sat in a small conference room and engaged with the rotating stream of team members who came in to explain the policies, procedures, and resources available to me as a new employee, I was struck by just how welcoming and gracious each person was. As I wrapped the morning session and finished signing all of my paperwork, Amy walked me back out to my car and I knew that this community was where I was meant to be.  Fast forward many months later as I arrived at Staff HR to participate in the latest In My Shoes session.  My morning started by sitting in on a new employee orientation, and I was immediately transported back to that day in September.  Here are some of the lessons I learned from the In My Shoes experience with the folks who work in the Operations unit of Staff HR.

The UCSC community principles are displayed in the Staff HR lobby
and are among the first things that new employees see.

Where the Journey Begins
I began my day in Staff HR by sitting in on a new employee orientation.  For several UCSC staffers, their experience at Shaffer Rd is their first contact with campus operations.  This first experience can either increase their anxiety and uncertainty as they begin their new role, or (as was the case when I was a new employee) confirm that they had made the right decision by joining the UCSC team.   It is vital that we all put ourselves in the shoes of new staffers when we welcome them into our community.   It sets the tone for the journey ahead.
Many UCSC journeys begin through these doors.

Keeping the Connection Alive
The Business and Administrative Services (BAS) division has team members working at several sites that are not on the main campus.  These include Monterey, Delaware Avenue, and Shaffer Road.  Ensuring these team members feel connected to those of us who are housed on the main campus is critical.  Staff HR is located on Shaffer Rd. and I try to stop in periodically to connect with our staffers there.   This In My Shoes session reminded me that, because their work touches so many aspects of campus operations, we must continually find new and creative ways to foster connection and communication between Staff HR and their colleagues on the main campus.

Ensuring that communication flows between Shaffer Rd and High St is vital.

The Men and Women Behind the Curtain
Each month I sit down and fill out my own time sheet, as well as approve the sheets for my direct reports. Rarely do I think about what happens after I hit the Submit button. Much like the quote from the Wizard of Oz, most folks do not pay attention to the person behind the curtain....or in this case the person on the other end of the computer screen.  That is, of course, unless something goes awry. I was able to sit with some of the people who sit behind the computer screen as they patiently let me experience (hands on keyboard) what their days are like.  I got to see what happens when time sheets are not submitted correctly or when an RMS form is not completed in a clear fashion. As I have emphasized throughout my tenure, we need to see how our actions affect those that follow us in the work flow. Of course, it is also vital to ensure we are providing clear, easy to find, and consistent information to our customers to ensure they understand the who, what, where, when, and why of processes.  We can not take for granted that our customers know where to start.

The men and women behind the curtain (or at least behind this door)
touch hundreds of processes on campus

Up-front Investment for Long-term Time Savings
Many times our frontline team members know there are more efficiencies possible in our processes.  However, identifying these efficiencies and (more importantly) finding the time to tackle them can seem like an impossible task. One of the forms I helped fill out during my immersion in Staff HR had just been redesigned.  Previously the form had been broken out into separate documents and data had to be entered multiple times. Staffers worked to consolidate the form and use the technology available to ensure that data could be entered once and then pre-populated across the form. A form that once took upwards of 20 minutes to complete, could now be done in a fraction of the time. It took time to build the form, but the long-term time savings have been huge. We must continue to find ways to ensure our team members have the opportunity and time to invest in tools that result in long-term time savings.

I am so very grateful to Lori, Leticia, Judy, Christy, and Steph for letting me gain a hands-on understanding of what a day is like in their shoes.

A slug I am,

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