Like many of us, I grew up in a family who gave nicknames to all of the children. Mine surprisingly, was given to me by my younger sister who found it difficult to pronounce Karalee, as she was just learning to speak. So, she shortened it to Kare and my family has called me that since. Along with endearment of course, nicknames can come with a lot of kidding, especially once your friends hear it. So everyone teased me, saying “Kare cares”…and you know what? They were right! I went on to major in Sociology with a focus on Social Change, as I knew my passion was working with groups of people, helping them realize their potential, and subsequently advancing society.
The foundation established in my youth continues to this day. I care deeply about the people in my life and those needing advocacy. In particular, I care about helping individuals realize their dreams. As such, caring about the staff in CSS is one of the most enjoyable elements of my job. I’ve assembled a leadership team who shares my values and collectively, we are actively pursuing several efforts. Today’s blog focuses on these efforts.
Hiring the right staff
CSS managers are developing a set of Core Skills we feel every member of CSS should have. These build on the UW-IT Organizational Competencies. We developed interview questions to identify candidates strengths in these areas as well as professional development opportunities to help current staff strengthen these skills.
Onboarding staff to achieve early success
We created a program we call 3 in 30 to guide new employees through their first 30 working days (6 weeks) of employment in CSS. It is designed to immerse our newbies quickly into UW-IT’s culture and organizational structure while providing networking opportunities and actual projects to complete. Being able to connect with people who can be instrumental to your success as well as work that allows you to demonstrate your value are both critical to empowering and retaining new employees.
As a leadership team we are constantly looking for ways we can automate and/or eliminate repetitive work to give you more capacity to learn new skills and take on new challenges. New responsibilities, especially those that challenge you, contribute towards increasing your knowledge and expertise, and make us stronger and more valuable as an organization. Proactive lifelong learning helps keep your skills relevant as technologies change. Each of you also become more marketable should you look for advancement outside your current position.
UW-IT allocates funding for employees to increase their knowledge and advance their skills. Staff are empowered to find learning opportunities that align with skills CSS needs and I encourage everyone to work with their management team to take advantage of this benefit. I strongly encourage you to be proactive in the planning of your skill acquistion and not wait for someone else to plan for you. While many people like to attend conferences out of town we realize just as many prefer to attend classes locally. The key is to take action and learn something new, bring your knowledge back to CSS and share with others.
It is important we take time to pause and socialize with one another. Our workloads are so heavy that months fly by and we don’t have time to stop and connect. UW-IT hosts a winter holiday party, a summer BBQ every year as well as golf and ski events. Less formal but of equal entertainment are the DIVE (“Drink In Various Establishments”) events. These social events provide opportunity to disconnect from the work, enjoy each other’s company, and connect on a personal level. CSS is hosting our winter holiday party on Dec. 21st, 11:30-1:30 in the visitors dining room. We’ll have great food, contests, prizes and an all around great time. You can sign up here:
In my opinion, one of the greatest perks of working for the UW is the generous leave we are granted. I believe that disconnecting from the daily grind recharges us, helps us become more focused in all aspects of our life, reduces stress, and improves quality of life. Personally, I always have an upcoming vacation on the books. So, I’m taking the week between Christmas and New Years off. No trip out of town, I’m just going to sit by the fire and read a couple of books, spend a few days snowshoeing in the Cascades, and maybe paint a room in my house. Most importantly, I’ll take time to review my 2017 calendar and plan my next vacation in April. And I’ll continue that pattern all year, taking a week or so off every 3 to 4 months.
I understand how easy it is to feel buried in my workload and taking time off will put me too far behind. When I catch myself feeling that way, I remind myself it’s likely the most important time to take a vacation. Time away could help you get things in perspective. When you return, you may feel recharged and realize some of that work causing you stress is much simpler than you thought, could be delegated to/shared with someone else… or maybe doesn’t really need to get done at all. Be open to the possibility that the fear of getting behind in your work could be far worse than any catch-up effort you’d actually need to do.
In closing, I want to thank all of you. Thank you for being here, for contributing your great ideas towards improving CSS, and working as hard as you do to help our customers. I wish all of you a very happy holiday season.