Time Flies When You're Having Fun!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it! I'm embarrassed that I haven't posted in over a year. On the other hand, with no one posting comments, asking questions, or challenging me it gets lonely out here in the blogosphere. I perked up today however when I realized that Blogger.com has made upgrades and I can now see some stats for this blog. Over 3200 people over the country have visited this blog in the past year. I feel better now!

So what happened in 2013 on the Valley TBO journey? In the last post we talked about our 4 most highly engaged teams at Valley and the importance of learning from them. Over the spring and summer we interviewed these teams to find out what was going on. Of course each team was unique, their purpose and goals were unique, and each manager had a unique set of talent themes. What these teams seemed to share in common was respect for each other's talents and strengths, a deep trust, excellent communications and support for one another.

On October 1st we invited everyone in the institution to share in a celebration honoring these teams. We invited our Gallup consultant Kyle Robinson who interviewed the teams on stage to share their group wisdom with all.

Also over the spring and summer we were upgrading our customer service training program to put a focus on how employees can use their unique talents and strengths to provide student/customer satisfaction. There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to service, and we know that each employee will be at his or her best if they're using the foundation of their talent themes to achieve the outcome of customer satisfaction. This is an important step in the TBO journey - moving from knowing our talents and strengths to putting them into action by intentionally applying them.

In April, we sent an email to administrators, managers and supervisors asking them to identify folks who seem to be “naturals at serving our students well – the ones that always seem to have a positive attitude, a smile, and a willingness to “go the extra mile”. We said we’d like to capture whatever these folks have, bottle it and sprinkle it around, but since we can’t do that, we’d like to capture some of what they have on posters and videos. Each employee shared what they thought are the essentials of good service and how their talent themes contribute to them being a "natural" at delivering it. These are now a part of our new Service.edYOU! training.

Finally, during the last quarter of 2013 we began working with a company to move our relatively new performance management process online. F.O.C.U.S. stands for Future Outcomes Collaboration Using Strengths, and it is different from anything we've done before. Based on best practices and positive psychology, it keeps us looking to the future, continuous improvement, working together, and doing what we each do best.

To take us in 2014, the Student Strengths Development unit in our Student Success Department celebrated 10,000 students taking the StrengthsQuest assessment this month!


Study Your Best

This is a frequent mantra from the folks at Gallup.  Not only do they understand that individuals are unique in how they use and apply their talents and strengths, they know that organizations are unique as well.  As a result, their consultants advise clients to look inward to find the "top performers" within our own organizations and study them.  What are they doing to get good results within our organization's unique culture, processes and systems?  Can others learn anything from these internal "top performers"?  Can what they're doing be duplicated in any way?

I think we should take our consultant's advice, and so have been studying the institution's results to Gallup's Employee Engagement survey from October 2012.  I've identified 4 managers at Kalamazoo Valley who, at this point in time, are leading the most highly engaged units. In fact, 3 are in Gallup's 75th Percentile (all organizations in their database), and 1 just missing that mark by .04 (average mean).  I will remind readers that the survey is not a rating system for managers.  Nor are managers solely responsible for employee engagement.  We all are - at every level (more on this later).

However, perhaps we should "study" these managers - what are their talents and strengths and how do they use them as managers?  What led their people to respond at such high levels to the questions?  What is going on in these units that is different from other units?  Is there anything we can learn and apply elsewhere?

Our first manager is Diane Finch of Career and Student Employment Services in the Student Success Center. Diane had 7 direct reports respond to the engagement survey and the unit scored a Grand Mean (average) of 4.60 (out of 5.0).  All but 1 of the Q12 items averaged a score of 4.57 or greater.

Terry Hutchins, Vice President for Information Technologies, had a unit of 5 direct reports with a Grand Mean of 4.51.  Questions Q1 and Q2 were given all "5's", and five of the remaining 10 questions received responses greater than 4.40: Q4, Q5, Q6, Q9, and Q12.

Lisa Cronkhite-Marks is an Education Professional in the Writing Center and had 6 direct reports complete the survey.  The unit's Grand Mean was 4.43, with all respondents rating the Q1 at the highest possible level of "5".  Seven other items were rated at 4.50 or greater: Q2, Q3, Q5, Q6, Q8, Q9, Q12. 

Also under the Student Success Center umbrella is Cathy Colella, Office Manager in the Student Success Center.  Cathy had 5 direct reports respond to the engagement survey, and they gave "high 5's" to both Q1 and Q5 and rated 4 other items at an average of 4.60 or greater  (Q2, Q6, Q9 and Q11).  The unit's overall Grand Mean was 4.32 - just a hair under Gallup's line for the 75th Percentile of 4.36 and above. 

As mentioned earlier, we are all responsible for engagement - as individuals, as managers, and the overall institution.  Since the institution is the "constant" in the current equation, it appears there is something worth studying about the individuals and the managers in these three units.  Stay tuned!


Kalamazoo Valley Receives National Strengths Award!

Mark your calendars for 11:30 a.m. on August 14th to be on-hand when President Schlack is presented with this prestigious Gallup award in recognition of the institution's efforts to focus on the talents and strengths of our students and employees.

Kalamazoo Valley Community College is the 2012 recipient of the Gallup Clifton Compass Award. The Clifton Compass Award is designed to honor institutions that best represent a Strengths-based campus, as evidenced by their strategic commitment to student, staff and faculty engagement and wellbeing through Strengths-based development.

“Kalamazoo Valley has displayed great leadership and a strong vision for how a college can impact an entire community with strategic strengths-based development” said Kyle Robinson, Director of Campus Engagement at Gallup, Inc., “We are proud of Kalamazoo Valley’s accomplishment and value their ongoing partnership to engage their students, staff and faculty.”

A formal presentation of the award will be made on the Kalamazoo Valley campus on August 14th at 11:30 am. by Mark Pogue, Gallup Vice President of the Education Practice.

For more information on Kalamazoo Valley's journey to become a talent-based organization, see TBO Journey Timeline under Related Links on this page.



Embedding Strengths in Your Company's DNA

Great article from Jim Asplund in recent edition of GALLUP Business Journal! 
Embedding Strengths in Your Company's DNA