Category Archives: General

Manager Orientation Training – What’s In It for You!

Know the Resources Available to You

Businessman taking file from co-worker
SMU knows that managers play a key role in living out the mission and achieving the goals of the University. The primary objective of this orientation program is to support a new manager’s successful transition to a supervisory role within the University.  It’s important to note, however, that the training is not just for new managers!

Manager Orientation is designed to provide anyone who supervises staff with essential skills and key information needed to successfully manage both employee performance and organizational initiatives. All managers can benefit from understanding University policies and procedures, knowing the right people to contact for assistance, and learning critical skills that support successful working relationships.

The Program consists of 3 required and 3 elective workshops.

Who Should Attend?

  • Newly hired and newly promoted managers are required to complete the program within their first year of hire or status change.
  • All managers can benefit from a refresher on these topics — especially the three required workshops covering SMU policy, practices and work culture.
  • Employees aspiring to a manager role in the future —  help them get a jump start on the program by encouraging them to start the training before the promotion.  Having the information ahead of time helps the employee know what to expect in the future and may help them develop the needed skills more quickly.

Upcoming workshops include (* indicates a required workshop to complete the program):

Project Management Essentials for the
Unofficial Project Manager
Jan 26 8:30 am-5:00 pm
*Legal and Risk Management for Managers Feb 2 3-5:00 pm
Coaching – Power of Questions Feb 16 1-5:00 pm
*Workplace Diversity Issues for Managers Feb 18 10:00 am-noon
Presentation Advantage March 1 8:30 am-5:00 pm
*Introduction to Human Resources  March 2 2 – 4:00 pm
Managing and Coaching for  High Performance March 22 1-5:00 pm
Speed of Trust March 29 1-5:00 pm
*Legal and Risk Management for Managers March 31 10:00 am-noon
5 Choices April 6 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Employee Relations Essentials April 7 9:-11:00 am
*Workplace Diversity Issues for Managers April 12 3-5:00 pm

Enroll via my.SMUat and navigate to Self Service>Learning and Development> Request Training Enrollment.  Follow the on-screen directions to select and submit an enrollment request.


Questions?  Email us at

The SMU Managers Blog provides timely and relevant information to support managers in their roles.
Sign up for the RSS feed and immediately receive posts in your Outlook inbox.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation at Work

Did You Know?

  • 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for their leaving!
  • 87% of job seekers report the #1 characteristic they desire in a workplace is to feel valued!
  • 65% or North Americans report that they received no recognition or no appreciation at their workplace in the past year!

Lack of Appreciation Results in Stress in the Workplace

The impact of authentic appreciation when staff feel valued is measurable and includes the following:

  • improved relationships between manager, employee, and co-workers
  • increased job satisfaction
  • reduction in tardiness and absenteeism
  • decreased staff turnover
  • diminished internal tension and conflict
  • increased productivity
  • improved customer satisfaction
  • a more positive workplace
  • managers like their jobs more!

Want to Build a Stronger Team Through Appreciation?

Thumbs up

The program consists of 4 modules of training with an Motivating By Appreciation assessment so team members can learn their primary, secondary, and least valued language of appreciation.



The training covers:

  • the importance of appreciation
  • the 5 languages and what they mean
  • how to put the languages to                                                                               work in your organization
  • making it stick

Join us at the Staff Association sponsored Lunch and Learn Series in the month of February or contact Mary Stall directly to learn more about offering the training with your intact team.

Questions?  Email us at

The SMU Managers Blog provides timely and relevant information to support managers in their roles.
Sign up for the RSS feed and immediately receive posts in your Outlook inbox.

Crucial Conversations: This Award Winning Training is Now Available at SMU

Most of us could offer a guess as to what a “crucial conversation”  might look like.  We can also likely recall some of these conversations  we initiated or have stumbled into – often with less than stellar results!

ccCrucial Conversations is the title of a book co-authored by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan & Al Switzler.  They define a crucial conversation as one where stakes are high, emotions run strong, and opinions vary. Their signature statement is “if you feel stuck — in a relationship, in your career, at home — chances are a crucial conversation is keeping you there”.

Training Course:  Tools for Talking When Stakes are High:  quote

Crucial Conversations is also offered as a training course, developed by Vital Smarts, which teaches skills for creating alignment and agreement by fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional, or risky topics throughout all levels of an organization. Skillsets covered include learning how to speak and be heard (and encouraging others to do the same), in order to begin to surface the best ideas, make the highest-quality decisions, and then act on decisions with unity and commitment.

What Makes This Training Program Successful?

There are three concepts that make the training engaging and allow for participants to build the skill to handle these conversations well.

1.  Hands-on skill-building: participants lecc4arn a new skill, apply the skill via practice, and receive helpful feedback in order to get better.
2.  Videos  which show the correct, near miss and disastrous results for situations in order to learn from the success and failure of others.
3.  Follow up tools to support the transfer of skill from the classroom to the office.

HR is Certified to Offer Crucial Conversations Training!

HR can partner with your team or organization to deliver this one day training course.  There is a cost associated with the training and we are happy to visit with you about this and investigate the most effective way meet your needs.

What Changes Can You Expect After Your Team Has Completed the Training?

With crucial conversations skills, you’ll be able to:

  • cc2prepare for high-stakes situations
  • transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue
  • make it safe to talk about almost anything
  • be persuasive, not abrasive
  • improve nearly every professional and personal relationship
  • yield professional improvements in areas like productivity, quality, safety, diversity, and change management.

Interested? Email us at

Learn about additional resources available to you on our Managing Through Change webpage.

rssThe SMU Managers Blog provides timely and relevant information to support managers in their roles.
Sign up for the RSS feed and immediately receive posts in your Outlook inbox.

Managing a Reduction In Force: Help Yourself and Your Team

woman at desk thinkingA reduction in force is arguably one of the most difficult situations you may face in your career as a manager.  Knowing that the decisions about what positions are eliminated affect both those exiting and those remaining in the organization can be a stressful burden to carry and a tough message to deliver. Although there’s not a painless path through this process, there are steps you can take to  both care for yourself and your team, while helping build a collaborative, supportive, and innovative culture. You can move from anxiety to exciting, but it takes effort. And that effort starts with taking care of yourself.

Staying Self-Aware:

It’s natural for you to experience a fairly wide variety of feelings,  thoughts, and physical reactions as changes are being communicated.

Common Thoughts and Feelings:

  • Relief and/or guilt that your job was not eliminated
  • Anger that you have to help communicate or manage the after-effects of layoffs
  • A desire to escape the situation and pretend it’s not happening
  • Anger or frustration with senior leaders regarding layoff decisions
  • Anxiety about how to handle an employee whose position is being eliminated (whether or not you have to communicate the news)
  • Fear about people reacting in an overly emotional way to the news
  • The urge to “take care of” everyone and to make everything “ok”
  • Concern about how the employees (and their families) leaving the organization will manage
  • Sadness over relationships with particular employees who are leaving or moving to other parts of the organization
  • Fear of additional position eliminations
  • Questioning your career and the role it plays in your life
  • Questioning whether or not you should stay with the organization

Physical Signs of Stress :

  • Fatigue or an overall decline in energy
  • Changes in appetite — both wanting to eat more or a loss of appetite are common
  • Difficulty maintaining your attention or in reaching decisions
  • Sleep disturbance — inability to fall asleep, problems staying asleep,  or wanting to sleep too much

Caring For Yourself

Being aware of and acknowledging your reactions to the situation is the first step in moving forward. Improve your ability to move through this time by actively caring for yourself. Choosing to implement tips from the following sections may be helpful.

Managing Your Thoughts and Emotions:

Respect your feelings and thoughts. You are most likely responding to stress in a very natural manner. The “grief cycle,” as introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, applies to significant changes at work, so expect that you may move through different stages (denial, anger and guilt, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance) more than once and over a longer period of time than you might anticipate.

  • Avoid the temptation to withdraw completely. Instead share the situation with friends/colleagues you trust, ask for or be open to support from them.
  • Practice patience—with yourself and others—during this time when irritability and anxiety may surface more often.
  • Seek clarity about your supervisor’s expectations of you and your team. Be sure you understand any new goals for your division and department.
  • Set your goals and make progress toward them, but don’t try to be perfect or all things to all people.
  • Dedicate 10-15 minutes to planning at the start (or end) of every day. Putting your plans in writing helps you be more productive.
  • Prioritize the most important tasks every day so that you use your time and energy toward your highest priorities.
  • Work a quick walk into your day. Even 10 minutes will help clear your head and help you think more clearly.
  • Work healthy foods into your diet and avoid leaning on caffeine and sugar to get you through the day.
  • Try keeping a consistent sleep schedule and know you may need more rest in times of intense change.
  • If you feel “stuck” in any particular stage of the grief cycle, consider contacting SMU’s confidential employee assistance program (EAP) provided by Magellan Health.
  • Consult a member of the Employee Relations team in Human Resources for additional specific strategies to help manage yourself and your performance during times of change.
  • Join Wellpower and choose to focus on just a few areas of your well-being.

Supporting Your Team Members

  • Acknowledge that the situation is difficult and if team members need to talk, try to listen without becoming defensive or impatient.
  • Be honest and avoid making promises you’re unsure you can keep.
  • Schedule extra time to stay in communication with your manager and your team so you can keep everyone informed as needed.
  • Individuals leaving the organization will be receiving a severance package which includes career support services. Although it may seem easier to dwell on the negative, try to remain optimistic about their ability to move forward successfully.
  • Allow others time and space to process the changes. Be a conduit for information and support, but try avoid the urge to “fix” the situation for others.
  • Explain or clarify the expectations for any new team member or one whose responsibilities have shifted. People want to understand both “why” their roles are changing and “what” they are expected to do differently.
  • Speak up when you have an idea you think might help your organization move forward. This is a time when creative problem-solving is in high demand.
  • Although we are striving for excellence, perfection is unattainable. Be gentle on your team, while challenging them to grow and adapt quickly.
  • If you see a member of your team struggling more than expected, suggest he/she talk with the EAP. It’s completely confidential and all phone calls are free as are the first three in-person visits.
  • Take advantage of technical expertise and support from OIT and any other types of education and support from Human Resources or other departments.

Taking these steps can help you feel more empowered in your role as a manager and move your team forward through a time of ambiguity and change toward a healthy culture and level of productivity.

If you have questions or want to consult with a member of the employee relations team, email us at or call the HR                                                        front desk at 8-3311 and ask to speak with a                                                      member of the ER Team.

Subscribe to the SMU Managers Blog RSS Feed

rssAn RSS feed is a service that automatically sends you new content from sites that you care about. Subscribing to an RSS feed makes it easy to stay informed and you don’t have to constantly monitor all the websites that you follow.

Subscribe to the SMU Manager blog to to receive posts in the RSS Feed folder of Microsoft Outlook immediately, as soon as they are published.  You will receive the latest news and information from HR, Legal, IAE, Risk Mgmt, the SMU Police, and others at SMU which will support you in your role.

Follow these easy steps.

  • Open Microsoft Outlook
  • In Outlook folder listing, right mouse click on RSS Feed.
  • Select Add A New RSS Feed
  • Enter
  • Click on the Add button
    Before clicking on the “Add” button, you may be asked to verify the feed as a trusted source and instructed to click on the Advanced tab.  Under Advanced,  you may change the folder the blog messages are delivered to to be your Microsoft Inbox (or any other designated folder,  instead of the RSS Feed Inbox.  If you are not asked to click on Advanced you may redirect the feed to your Inbox by creating a rule in Outlook.

If you have trouble, please contact the OIT Help Desk at or 8-4357.