Sunday, August 3, 2014

From 2300 Delaware to Antarctica

One of the things I am always looking to do in my role as VCBAS is figure out ways to highlight how our work in BAS supports the mission of UCSC. As I have said before, our work is not the “ends” of the UCSC mission, rather we serve as a “means” to support the world-class teaching, learning and research that takes place daily on our campus. When I spent the day with our teammates in Procurement, I saw first hand how the work that takes place in BAS advances the campus mission. Here are a few lessons learned that apply to all units in BAS.

Procurement and several other BAS departments are
located at 2300 Delaware

Connecting to the ends of the campus mission
As I sat with Donna and went through the processes used to procure goods for a handful of current research projects, I was amazed. Her knowledge of the research taking place across campus was incredible, and she could identify how each product was going to be used. The products she purchases end up in the labs on the main campus and at research sites as far away as Antarctica.  I saw this connection to our mission as I sat with all of the other buyers as well. Our work in BAS truly has impacts across the globe. 

Kathryn is one of the buyers who works with our clients to ensure they get the
products needed to fulfill the mission of UCSC

A holistic look at our team members
When you visit 2300 Delaware, you can’t help but notice the green leaves that adorn the top of several cubicles. You also notice the family pictures and other mementos that surround each team member at their workstation. The people who work on our team are not just FTEs on a spreadsheet who have a specific list of tasks outlined in their job descriptions. Rather, they are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends, and members of their communities. We need to always find ways to ensure our work environments take a holistic view of our team members.

One of the many leaves designed to bring a touch of home
and whimsy to the work environment

Sharing the “why” of the “what” we do
Our division is responsible for administering a host of procedures. That is the “what” of our work and it is critical that we always review what we do and how we do it to ensure those who need to use our processes can achieve their needed ends in support of the campus mission. It also is critical that we find new ways to share the “why” of what we do.  The more our customers and colleagues understand the “why” behind the “what”, the better we can support them and the higher the likelihood they will engage with us early in their work. Procurement plays a key role in saving departments money and ensuring we are being good stewards of our resources. Whether is was negotiating a better term with an IT company or ensuring the bus company a department was using had a good safety record, I saw many examples of the “why” of Procurement.

One of the Procurement team members who received a Simplification STAR
(see my previous blog entry) was Nancy

The voice on the other end of the phone
Often times, when we do our work well in BAS…no one notices. We do not often get a call thanking us for the power being on or the fact an employee was able to find a parking space or the fact that the shower in a residence hall operated just fine or the fact that a needed product arrived in time for a research trip. Many times people only reach out when something goes awry. This is simply a reality of our work, and highlights why we need to provide mechanisms for positive reinforcement within our team. It’s also important that we realize that those reaching out to us when things have gone awry are just trying to do their work and support the campus mission. When they reach out to us, they might be frustrated because they are under pressures unknown to us. We need to help equip our team members with the skills needed to diffuse that frustration and help our customers reach their goals. We want our clients to view us as partners in their work. When I sat with Yelcka, she spoke about some of the times when a frustrated customer was on the other end of the phone. Her number one rule for responding?....listen first and then figure out how to help.

When you call the Procurement Office help line, the voice on the
other end will often be Yelcka's

I truly enjoyed my day with the Procurement team. I am grateful to each of them for showing me what a day in their shoes looks like.

A slug I am,

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