UW News

June 2, 2005

Leadership initiative: Survey, discussion groups draw strong response

News and Information

Although the information-gathering phase of the Leadership, Community and Values Initiative is far from complete, members of the team are encouraged by the response thus far, both to the online survey and in-person discussion groups.

Thus far, nearly 25 percent of all faculty and staff outside of UW Medicine have responded to the survey. Information about the survey has only recently been made available to faculty and staff in UW Medicine.

The online survey is available at https://depts.washington.edu/oeasurv/cclimate/ccl.html.

Discussion groups are also continuing. Individuals can sign up at http://www.washington.edu/admin/hr/events.calendar.html,

Members of the initiative team who have been facilitating discussion groups have already observed some common themes in the conversations.

“There’s an acknowledgement that we have no formal process for selecting, developing and evaluating leaders at various levels of the institution,” says team member Beth Warrick, director of training and development. “People with technical expertise often find themselves in leadership positions, without any training or mentoring. This has led some of our participants to recommend the creation of a comprehensive leadership development strategy.”

Participants often comment on the barriers that separate different groups of employees and how this can restrain the creation of a feeling of community. A consistent issue that is raised is that people, wherever they work in the University, should be treated with equal respect, because they all contribute to the University’s mission.

Because discussions focus on leadership, it is not surprising that some groups comment on the need for a more consistent leadership ethic. But the desire for change is balanced by an overall sense of pride in working at the UW.

Team member Linda Barrett, director of budget operations for planning and budgeting, recently facilitated a discussion group that included a large proportion of employees from Custodial Services.

“What struck me was that, regardless of how strongly people felt about the need for improvement in the workplace, they expressed great pride in working here,” she said. “Some of the people most passionate about this were the ones who have worked here the longest. They take pride in doing their job well, and they see how their work connects to the overall mission of the institution. What was most important to them was not what they did every day, but the fact that they were doing it here, at the University.

“They were also thrilled that President Emmert wanted to know what they think and how they believe the institution can be improved. They viewed participation in this discussion group as a unique opportunity to contribute in a different way.”