All posts by Mary Stall


Trick Your Brain Into Change

rexRex Huppke is a humorist and writes a twice weekly workplace column for  the Chicago Tribune titled
I Just Work Here“.

The Sunday, June 21, 2015  Dallas Morning News business section featured one of his columns titled “Trick the Brain Into Change“.  Huppke interviewed Art Markman, Director of the Human Dimensions of Organizations program at UT Austin for the article.

According to Markman, there is a habit based side of the brain and an intellectual side.  To effect change, you must convince the intellectual side that the change is worth the time it takes to change the habit.  Therefore, the best way to get people to change is to make the new idea easy to do.

Do you have an upcoming change you need to implement?

  • Analyze how to reduce the complexity of the change.
  • Brainstorm the impact of the change on yourself and others
  • Determine what can be put into place to change the current habit in order to create the new desired habit
  • Communicate the change and its impact

And remember to make the change easy to do!

You may also listen to a recorded interview with Rex on the same topic on WGN.

Managing Others Who Coordinate or Host Camps for Minors at SMU

SMU seeks to provide a healthy environment for all who interact with the University whether they are students, employees, parents, or visitors.  For those who interact with minors, this is especially important as Texas state law and SMU Policy outline specific requirements for training and reporting abuse when it is known or suspected.

Do you know that according to Texas state law, it is everyone’s responsibility to report known or suspected abuse of a minor?

Are you aware of SMU Policy with regard to state mandated training and state reporting requirements?

Does your team understand their role and responsibility in ensuring a safe environment for minors participating in events on campus?

Are you following SMU practice for camps and events involving minors?

should have regular conversations with Camp Operators and Program Coordinators to check for understanding and awareness around the following role responsibilities and then follow up to ensure all requirements have been fulfilled.

Camp Operators: 
those who supervisor or host a camp for minors utilizing SMU facilities:

  1. camp operatorensure that their own training is up to date
  2. manage the training completion process with all employees, volunteers and any others working with minors during the camp time frame
  3. follow Texas state guidelines in submitting all required state forms
  4. provide a copy of the state form to the SMU Program Coordinator.

Program Coordinators: those who coordinate with Camp Operators whether or not they are utilizing SMU facilities:

  1. program coordinatorsensure that their own training is up to date
  2. keep accurate and complete camp records
  3. communicate with Camp Operators regarding SMU training requirements and their responsibility to submit the state form
  4. require a copy of the state reporting form from the Camp Operator for SMU camp records and keep these records for a minimum                                           of seven years.In addition.
    Program Coordinators may be asked to coordinate the enrollment of non-SMU employees in the DCAC on-line training when the camp operator is unable to obtain or afford the training for their employees.  Please view the Program’s webpage or email

Learn more on the Program for Protection of Minors webpage.

Read SMU Policy 9.31:  Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse  and Mandatory Training and Examination Program for Employees of Campus Programs for  Minors on Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse and Child Molestation.

Questions regarding who should complete the state mandated training and other compliance questions should be directed to the Office of Risk Management at

Questions regarding training enrollment for SMU employees as well as non-SMU employees and training completion should be directed to SMU HR at


SMU Program for the Protection of Minors: The Manager’s Role

Do you, or your direct report, host camps either on or off campus and do your and your employees understand SMU practice with regard to state reporting and SMU record-keeping?
Are you and/or your direct report aware of the state requirement to be trained on recognizing and reporting abuse while working at these camps (SMU employees , non-SMU camp employees, and volunteers)?

SMU seeks to provide a healthy environment for all who visit SMU and/or interact with employees.  In support of this goal, SMU goes above and beyond state law by asking all employees to complete a training program on protecting minors from abuse.

In addition to the one time training for all SMU employees, those who host camps or are employed by these camps are required by the State of Texas to complete the state mandated training every two years.  Additionally, SMU asks Program Coordinators, those who coordinate camps on behalf of others, to also re-train every two years.  Learn more on the Program for the Protection of Minors webpage.

Each year the Office of Risk Management and SMU HR host a seminar to help Camp Operators and and Program Coordinators understand their role and responsibilities with regard to  the duty to report, state reporting and record keeping,  and healthy camp environments.

Camp Operators and Program Coordinators are strongly urged to attend this seminar:


2015 Seminar
Monday April 6, 2105
3:00-4:30 pm
HTSC Forum 

Facilitated by the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, ORM and HR.

As a manager, what can you do to support your employee in understanding their responsibilities?

All identified SMU Camp Operators and Program Coordinators recently received an email regarding the training on April 6 with information on how to enroll.  You can support your employee by:

  • Asking if they have received and reviewed the information in the email and if not, to self report to the Office of Risk Management via email to
  • Allow time for employees to attend the training
  • Ensure employees understand the importance of being compliant with state law and SMU Policy 9.31: Duty to Report
  • Review your employee’s plan to meet the state requirements and SMU expectations for record-keeping and reporting abuse, should it occur

With manager support, SMU can meet its’ goal of a healthy environment!


Email Risk Management for questions regarding the role of a Camp Operator and Program Coordinator at

HR-Icons-QuestionsEmail HR for questions regarding the state mandated training and access to SMU Blackboard at

Updates to HR Policies – What managers need to know


41866685.thbThe Department of Human Resources is updating its policies in Chapter 9 of the online Policy Manual. Our goal entails completing the majority of the policies by the end of this fiscal year (May 2015). We are reviewing and updating multiple polies at each phase of the process. Our first round (9 policies) has been reviewed by representatives of several constituent groups and approved by the President’s Executive Council.

The following policies have been updated, approved, and are currently in effect. Here are the highlights of what you need to know as an SMU manager:

Paid Medical Absence for Staff, Policy 9.21
The main change to this policy is the elimination of the six-month waiting period for paid medical absence leave. Employees cannot plan when they are sick – it just happens. As a result, employees who come to work sick in order to be compensated often expose other employees to illness. Once employees have sick time accrued, they may take that time when they need to be absent due to illness. Instances where employees do not have enough sick time accrued will be handled on a case-by-case basis. For further information, contact

Staff Bereavement (New), Policy 9.39
In the past, time off for bereavement was taken from accrued medical leave. A new policy has been created where employees who need to be absent for family bereavement will be compensated for up to three days of paid bereavement leave. In circumstances where additional time off is warranted and approved, an employee may use two additional days of accrued medical leave. If paid medical leave accruals have been exhausted, the absence will be compensated from vacation accruals. If the vacation accruals have been exhausted, the employee may request unpaid leave, not to exceed a total Bereavement Leave of five days. Managers should read the policy for definitions of “family member” and further information about bereavement leave.

Tuition Benefits, Policy 9.28
Employees often wish to take advantage of the generous tuition benefits that SMU offers. The revisions combined two policies into one with the title of “Tuition Benefits” (formerly 9.28 Tuition Benefits for Dependent Children of Faculty and Staff Members and 9.29 Tuition Benefits for Faculty and Staff Members and their Spouses). The revisions also further define tuition benefits coverage and clarify that the cost of attending SMU non-credit bearing courses is not covered.

In addition, since hours can vary by degree program, there is no longer a stipulation that at least half of the hours spent in class must not involve time off from regular working hours. Aligned with current practice, “Domestic Partner” has been added to all references of the spousal tuition benefit. The policy also clarifies that the tuition benefit covers only one degree for a spouse or domestic partner. For more information about tuition benefits, review the Tuition Benefits webpage.

Personal Conduct, Policy 9.12
A section has been added to address attendance, absenteeism, and tardiness (section E). SMU expects employees to be reliable and punctual in reporting for scheduled work. As a manager, you have the right and responsibility to hold accountable those employees who have unapproved absences or continued tardiness. Be sure to document any corrective action that you take, as outlined in Corrective Action for Staff, Policy 9.13 (the policy listed next). An employee who is absent and fails to report to work without notification to the manager for a period of three consecutive days will be considered to have voluntarily terminated the employment relationship.

Corrective Action for Staff, Policy 9.13
This policy was previously titled “Corrective Disciplinary Procedures for Non-Faculty Personnel.” The language and procedures have been updated to accurately reflect the current philosophy and practices used in managing employee performance. This policy provides clarity on when a manager should contact the Department of Human Resources, and also clarifies the manager’s role, outlining expectations and proper documentation.

The updates to this policy define “good standing” and its impact on eligibility for transfer and rehire of employees. It also renames the three corrective action steps that are outlined. The third step, Final Notification, no longer allows for a day off with pay. As a manager, it is important for you to understand your role in the corrective action process. For further information, see the full policy and view the Corrective Action webpage.

Pre-Employment Screenings, Policy 9.8
This policy was previously titled “Employment of Persons Convicted of Criminal Offenses.” As an SMU manager, it is important for you to know that all employees must undergo a background check (pre-employment screening) prior to starting work at SMU. You will need to make sure your candidates submit the release form and wait to hear back from HR before making an official offer. This policy identifies categories of convictions that may/may not yield an offer of employment.

Also, SMU now reserves the right to conduct background checks on current employees under certain circumstances, at any time during employment. If adverse results are identified on the background check, the Department of Human Resources will initiate a review with other University officials and the manager to determine what action might be taken.

In addition, after being hired, employees should self-report to the Department of Human Resources within five (5) business days if they have been convicted, pleaded guilty, or received deferred adjudication or similar disposition before a civilian or military court for any criminal offenses (excluding minor traffic misdemeanors). If a current employee is charged with an offense, the University will conduct a review. A final decision regarding continued employment will be made by University officials and the Department of Human Resources.

Termination of Employment, Policy 9.16
The revisions consolidated two policies, 9.16 Termination of Employment and 9.17 Exit Process into one overall policy, 9.16 Termination of Employment. This policy outlines the amount of advanced notice an employee must give to his/her manager before leaving SMU. An employee should also submit a letter of resignation to his/her manager at the time notice is given.

Exiting employees are required to turn in their University ID card, pay any money owed to the University, and return all University property prior to leaving. Pay may be withheld from the final paycheck for any legal debt owed to the University.

Managers should note that based on feedback provided by exiting employees in recent years, an exit interview is no longer required. Instead, a checklist, Employee Frequently Asked Questions, and detailed information regarding the exit process will be emailed to the exiting employee prior to leaving SMU. Of course, exiting employees may request an appointment with a Benefits Representative if they have additional questions. Managers should view the Manager Checklist and Manager Frequently Asked Questions documents when one of their employees is leaving SMU. These documents may be found on the HR website under Resources/Manager Resources/Exiting Process.

Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse, Policy 9.31
This policy was originally written to capture a phased-in roll-out of the program across campus. Now that the roll-out is complete, wording referencing the roll-out has been removed. What remains refers to Texas law that requires anyone with knowledge of suspected child abuse or neglect to report it to the appropriate authorities. State law also requires any individual employed in a position involving contact with minors at a campus program to complete a training program approved by the State of Texas. The training program must be completed within the two years prior to the start date of the program, and recertification is required every two years for the individuals in these programs. All SMU faculty, staff, and student employees are required at the start of employment to successfully complete an approved training program on sexual abuse and child molestation. Training may be accessed via SMU Blackboard at

If you or your employees suspect child abuse or neglect has taken place on the SMU campus or at any SMU function, program, or event, immediately make a report to the SMU Police Department at 214.768.3333. SMU employees must also report such conduct to their manager or department head, but merely reporting the incident to a manager or department head is insufficient. If there is an immediate threat, call 911. For further information, please read the entire policy and/or visit the SMU Program for the Protection of Minors.

Reorganization Policy, 9.40
This new policy is a formalization of current practices around various reorganization methods. The policy lists possible reasons that may prompt reorganization and includes current regulatory language. The policy indicates that the Department of Human Resources should be contacted prior to taking any action.

To review the full text of the policies, visit the online SMU Policy Manual. You will need to log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password.

Please have conversations with your employees about these policy updates, when appropriate. A post about the policy updates was announced in the HR Headlines e-mail that was sent out to all benefits-eligible employees on August 25. Additionally, employees who are subscribed to the RSS feed for the HR Blog would have received notification when the post was published. You may wish to share this post with them as another notification about the policy updates, as well as a lead-in to conversations about the updates.

For questions about any of these policy updates, contact

Read more about HR’s strategy to update all HR policies in the SMU Forum.

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