At an institution as large as MSU, we don’t have just one institutional culture and climate but are instead made up of many. From the college or department level to a program or work team, each one of these groups has a leader responsible for creating and sustaining a welcoming and inclusive workplace. The past few years have pushed us as an organization to examine our policies, processes, and resources as they pertain to our different employee groups. While we continue to make strides toward becoming a more respectful and equitable place for our diverse workforce to learn and grow, we acknowledge that there is still more work to be done, and we are committed to continuing our efforts in this positive direction.

Leaders play a crucial role in setting the tone for their units, and it’s equally important to provide leaders with the necessary support and tools to bring about positive change. Out of this need, a group of MSU offices came together to build a series of workshops and resources to help those who lead and supervise others. Now in its fourth year, the Creating and Sustaining a Respectful Work Environment Series brings together multiple institutional partners representing all employees, including academic staff, faculty, and staff. (A complete list of partners is included at the end.) As the MSU 2030 Strategic Plan states under the Faculty and Staff Success theme, “MSU’s biggest investment — and most important asset — is the exceptionally talented faculty and staff at the core of the Spartan community.” To help attract and retain employees, this workshop series is designed to assist leaders in understanding key policies and how to implement them as they work towards creating and sustaining a workplace built around “care, respect, and inclusion.”

For 2023-2024, we started offering in-person workshops in addition to virtual offerings and will continue to examine the best options for engaging on these topics. Recordings and materials from the fall sessions are available on the Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Development website.

Spring sessions will be virtual as Michigan weather does not always cooperate in January and February:

Management of OIE Cases: Process & Responsibilities of Leaders
Wednesday, January 31, 9:00 – 11:00 AM EST, Zoom

What You Need to Know — The Discipline Process for Academic Administrators and Managers
Thursday, February 22, 9:00 – 11:00 AM EST, Zoom

You can find the full program descriptions and registration information here.

Climate Assessment Toolkit

Recognizing the constraints of time, we understand that attending workshops may not always be feasible within busy schedules; however, one resource can be accessed at any time. During the first year of the Creating and Sustaining series, colleagues from the Prevention, Outreach, and Education Department and MSU Human Resources created the Climate Assessment Toolkit. This self-guided resource was recently updated and expanded with a variety of exercises and resources and was featured in the Fall 2023 session Setting the Tone: An Introduction to Changing Climate & Culture. The toolkit states, “As a leader, starting with a self-assessment of your beliefs and behaviors can help inform your goals, motivations, and ways that you can support your team.” Some of the self-reflection opportunities included in the toolkit focus on understanding your core values and conflict resolution styles.

The second part of the toolkit focuses on Understanding the Climate of Your Team and contains numerous exercises leaders can use to get to know their colleagues. Two of the tools detailed in the toolkit are:

  • Stay Interviews: A “type of employee retention strategy that involves having structured conversations with current employees to understand their needs, concerns, and motivations, with the goal of retaining them and improving their job satisfaction.”
    • Stay Interviews don’t have to occur at formal times. Annual reviews are a great opportunity to include some of the sample questions included in the toolkit.
  • Unit Analysis: SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) are two tools for units to engage in structured conversations with employees to identify and share their current assessments of the present state of the unit/team and opportunities to grow.

The toolkit also contains information on Bystander Intervention, Understanding Power Dynamics, and Understanding the Surrounding Climate. Make sure to save the link and refer to the toolkit often!

As noted at the beginning, this series is a collaboration between the Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Development, the Office of Faculty and Academic Staff Affairs, Human Resources, the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance, the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, and the University Ombudsperson. We are thankful to all presenters and participants who have participated in this series over the past four years.

If you have feedback on this series or ideas for additional opportunities, please get in touch with Cindi Leverich