In June, I presented at the Harvard Colloquium on Abrasive Conduct in Higher Education. I had presented at the 2014 colloquium. Last year, I described deficiencies at PCC described by the Higher Learning Commission, the College’s accreditor, and our response, as chronicled in our Self-Study Report.
In this year’s presentation, I outlined new changes at PCC to meet our challenges. These include employee committee review of policies and practices, civility training for more than 1,300 employees, Supervision in the 21st Century leadership training, College-wide sexual harassment response training, and efforts by our Institutional Climate Cooperative.
The goal of these efforts, simply put: Less meanness. More civility. More respect. More communication. More niceness.
This was the third annual colloquium on abrasiveness. There likely will be a fourth and a fifth. Culture change in higher education requires clear expectations, effective communication and acceptance of collective responsibility. It takes time, as we at PCC know. The hope is meetings on the topic will eventually be unnecessary.
The College held its inaugural “Supervision in the 21st Century” training recently, with Director Gary Cruze and his team in Organizational Effectiveness & Development devising and facilitating an informative and thought-provoking session.
The inaugural class focused on strategic communications in the workplace. Twenty-five supervisors have been selected to go through the six-month curriculum.
I opened the session by stressing the importance of understanding the relationships between and among doers, supervisors, managers and leaders. I gave examples from my work experience to illustrate the need for meeting needs even with limited resources.
For instance, when I worked at Centralia College as the Chief Human Resource officer, I created my own filing system because I only had a half-time secretary. At Evergreen State College, I developed a sexual harassment training program for students. I created a curriculum, a train-the-trainer program, and guided my students to deliver the training in a peer-to-peer model.
My main point: As a supervisor you have a responsibility to devise ways to get done the work that needs to be done. You are responsible for the success of your work unit. You also must meet the charge of developing your employees. Effective, professional supervision through all levels of the College hierarchy is crucial if we are to improve the work experience of our employees, and to become a premier community college.