A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, Valencia Voices Immigration Stories will be shown from Tuesday, September 15 – Thursday, October 15, 2020.
Valencia Voices records and preserves audio histories of Valencia College Osceola Campus students, faculty and staff. These audio histories will soon be catalogued, transcribed and available to students and other researchers permanently through the Osceola Campus library. Together, these Valencia stories provide a unique source on the history and culture of the College and of Osceola County. Open the audio links on this page for a selection of stories from our archive.
These stories come from recent Osceola students who immigrated to the United States. Why these students and their families decided to leave their home countries and how they managed cultural and occupational changes in the United States and Osceola County are powerful testaments to the determination and resilience of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants to our area. Listen to these stories and think about the vulnerabilities, dreams and sacrifices — the basic humanity — in all of us.
Please share with your students. If you have any questions about Valencia Voices Immigration Stories feel free to reach out to Professors of Humanities Ernesto Hernandez or Mark McMeley.
For more virtual events, visit the Humanities Digital Venue. Please contact Part-time Faculty, Humanties Kathryn Gualtieri if you are interested in participating in future events.
Being able to provide flexibility in the workplace stems from the perspective that staff are people first. This concept is especially important to apply during this pandemic as many employees try to perform job functions at home while simultaneously caring for young children, assisting with schooling or even caring for elderly parents.
To assist supervisors who may be eager to learn how to best support employees during this challenging time, I compiled the following list of tips and ideas:
Develop a relationship of trust with employees so as to create an environment that makes them feel they can express the challenges of being a caregiver to you;
In this environment, we need to be aware of the pressures that come along with balancing home and work during the pandemic. The pandemic did not allow for the planning and coordination of childcare or other care. Express empathy and understanding;
Understand the special needs of employees with elderly parents, who often are primary caregivers. The elderly are a high-risk population for COVID-19, which in itself may add to the emotional stress of employees;
Being in a remote environment allows for the adjustment of work schedules. Conducting regular check-ins with staff is important to ensure that work schedules are feasible. Supervisors can, in many cases, make necessary adjustments to work schedules that provide appropriate support to employees;
Remind employees of the available Employee Assistant Program (EAP) resources, self-care, yoga and mindfulness sessions, among others, offered at the institution and encourage participation;
Discuss personal and professional wellness and work-life balance during team meetings;
Create work schedules with sufficient notice so that employees can make necessary changes to their schedule that allow for personal commitments;
Support employees if they have to take leave with little notice due to unforeseen challenges or emergencies; and
Encourage employees to use leave when necessary. Employees sometimes internally struggle with having to take time off, but as supervisors, we often need to remind staff to take care of themselves and their families.
By Jaclyn Taylor, Coordinator, Employee Development
This summer, Employee Development partnered with several of our colleagues to bring a certificate-eligible program to supervisors. From July through August, nine sessions took place, bringing more than 140 supervisors together in learning and conversation. The topics facilitated included: The Psychology of Stress in COVID-19, Navigating Change, Setting Expectations, Performance Management and Navigating Team conflict.
Each 90-minute session included time for supervisors to both learn material and share their unique experiences surrounding these subjects. This highly engaged group offered their challenges and successes in supervising in a remote environment. When it came time to think back on the session outcomes, more than 150 surveys were completed with thoughtful reflections on how the material directly impacts supervisors’ individual work.
Upon completion of the series, 35 supervisors attended at least three of the sessions, completed reflections and ultimately received their certificate on Supervising in a Remote Environment.
Take a look at the session summaries below:
Psychology of Stress and COVID-19
The series kicked-off with psychology professors Linda Freeman and Judi Addleston, who hosted the first Supervisor Summer Series session: The Psychology of COVID-19 Stress and the Impact on Employee Engagement. Judi and Linda shared with us not only the science behind stress, but many other tools to take with us as we continue to live and work through these challenging times. We encourage you to continue your practice of resiliency and stress management.
Katie Tagye, director, organizational design and development, led supervisors through the session titled Navigating Change. Throughout the session, we discussed various models of change and the effects it has on people in the workplace. We also discussed how leaders can effectively help to manage that change. Visit the Valencia EDGE for a recording of the session.
Ben Taylor, assistant director, equal opportunity, and Courtney Demings, coordinator, equal opportunity, facilitated our third Supervisor Summer Series topic: Setting Expectations. During this session, we discussed the importance of setting and communicating expectations to employees. We learned that the SMART Model (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Based) also applies to expectations. Visit the Valencia EDGE for a recording of the session.
Liz Suarez, senior director, organizational development and human resources, and Trisha Whitmire, assistant director, equal opportunity, discussed Performance Management as supervisors defined the performance management process. We learned about empathic listening and its place in performance conversations, as well as the importance of recognition in the remote space. Visit the Valencia EDGE for a recording of the session.
Navigating Team Conflict
Liz Suarez and Jaclyn Taylor, coordinator, employee development, closed the series by conferring with supervisors on the final topic: Navigating Team Conflict. Supervisors analyzed conflict by learning to understand our counterparts, determining the type of conflict taking place, articulating our goal and ultimately picking an option to address the conflict. The session wrapped up by encouraging supervisors to think about how to have performance conversations in a productive way that allows us to reach a resolution. Visit the Valencia EDGE for a recording of the session.
Join us to connect and discuss the “what’s next” with the facilitators from our Supervisor Summer Series. During our practical application sessions, we will discuss what has worked, what hasn’t and practice skills we’ve learned in small groups. Topics will mirror our Supervisor Summer Series, so visitthe Valencia EDGEto register for these sessions.
By Liz Suarez, Senior Director, Organizational Development and Human Resources
As leaders of people, we are probably aware of some definitions for performance management, such as a process of continuous communication or a process to create a work environment in which people are enabled to perform at their best. Furthermore, we may know that such goes beyond the annual Check-In meeting or faculty observations. This process begins upon hiring and only ends when an employee exits the institution.
Whether you are a new leader or an experienced leader, the current circumstances are challenging you to create and foster productivity in a virtual setting while leading people through the pandemic crisis. Certainly, maintaining critical human values of kindness and empathy at the forefront of the work needed to be performed, while also recognizing work performance that aligns with our institutional values are critical areas of focus for staff and faculty success in their roles.
To simplify the performance process definitions, let’s say that this process is ongoing and includes three key steps: setting expectations, coaching and reviewing performance. Sounds simple, right? In fact, we have done it before! Hence, a question that may be burning in our minds as people leaders is: How do we practice performance management now?
During the recent Supervisor Summer Series-Performance Management session, the facilitators asked the attendees the following question: How do you know if an employee is meeting your performance expectations?
Supervisors stated they knew employees were meeting performance expectations by:
Seeing that their work was being done correctly and on time;
Conducting regular check-ins and engaging in conversations to see how employees were doing, both personally and professionally;
Verifying that SMART goals were created and followed; and
Gathering satisfactory feedback from students and/or colleagues on performance and behaviors.
However, what does a leader do when performance or behavioral expectations are not being met? Could it be a matter of misaligned perspectives?
Differences in communication styles can impact how one perceives performance. As an example of such, an employee may only communicate with the supervisor when he or she is having trouble or needs something from them. However, the supervisor may prefer to be kept informed about progress or hear about what is going well. This is a misaligned perspective that could create a performance issue. If we refer back to the three steps noted above, this can be easily addressed by resetting the expectation of communication.
This sounds very simple so far, and yet, our current virtual environment and challenging times ask of us as people leaders to do things differently. That means providing opportunities for inquiry and understanding by following the coaching step of the process.
This coaching step begins with emphatic listening. Also called active listening or reflective listening, this approach is a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust. The Grow model is a simple model that can be used to assist with coaching
To watch an example of this step, check out this Listen as a Coach video from LinkedIn Learning.
Supervisors who attended the Performance Management Summer Series provided the following helpful tips that can be used through the coaching process:
Being on video and making eye contact;
Nodding the head in acknowledgement;
Welcoming body language, such as “leaning in”; and
Repeating things they have heard to the employee.
Furthermore, supervisors who have encountered work performance and/or behavioral concerns offered the following tips to remedy such gaps:
Have frequent discussions that involve feedback and development plans;
Address concerns as these arise; and
Hold regular one-on-one informal coaching or formal disciplinary conversations.
Note: The formal step of performance management includes the review of the events, documentation as written counseling, Individual Action Plan or Performance Improvement Plan and written reprimand. For more information on the formal process, please connect and partner with Valencia’s Organizational Development and Human Resources team.
Certainly, as leaders of people, it is imperative to recognize work that meets and exceeds performance and behavioral expectations in all aspects of the employer/employee relationship. Although, not a “step” noted above, recognition used as positive reinforcement and a proactive approach may reduce the gaps in desired work performance and create trust and loyalty while minimizing the effects of stressors already created by circumstances out of our control during the pandemic and movement to a virtual work environment.
Some ideas about concrete ways to recognize employees shared during the July Supervisor Summit included the following:
Timely e-mails of appreciation;
Valencia EDGE badges;
Recognition in team meetings;
Thank you notes with specifics of accomplishments; and
Sharing successes with next level of supervision.
Please take a look at the list of resources below providing additional insight to you as leaders managing work performance:
If you notice that an employee has stressors beyond the scope of your purview of responsibility during any of these steps, remind them of the Employee Assistance Program available for full-time employees or 211.org for part-time employees. You may also connect them with your local ODHR representative for additional support.
As always, members of the Organizational Development and Human Resources Team (ODHR) in your ODHR Regional Solution Centers are here to assist you as you work and lead the way in engaging in the performance management process. If you have questions, contact us at HR4U@valenciacollege.edu or call the HR4U helpline at 407-299-5000, extension HR4U (4748).
Date: Friday, September 25, 2020 (New date) Time: 9 – 10 a.m. Location: Zoom
Supervisors, we invite you to attend a special Supervisor Summit, focused on “Navigating Uncertainty and Building Resiliency” — now scheduled for a new date, Friday, September 25, 2020. For this summit, we’ve partnered with UnitedHealthcare to bring an Optum EAP counselor to facilitate a session to support our supervisors.
This session looks at how to recognize stress, manage it and develop positive coping strategies to maintain a high level of resilience in our lives. This session is built specifically for managers and looks at how to recognize stress in a team. It also looks at how to deal with the effects on stress in teams and individual staff members.
Understand the causes of stress;
Recognize the signs and long term effects of stress;
Develop personal stress management strategies; and
Review strategies to build resilience.
We apologize for any date confusion. The original date, scheduled for the week prior, conflicted with other professional development sessions previously scheduled. For a quick overview of what to expect from this session, please view a short video from Deanne Abrams, director, employee development.
A Message from Katie Tagye, Director, Organizational Design and Development
You’re driving on a road that is unfamiliar. It’s dark outside, and you can only see as far ahead of you as your headlights illuminate. Your stomach tightens, and you pay close attention to the curves and changes as the road unfolds. You’re not sure what to expect, but you’re confident that your abilities will get you where you need to be.
That feeling of ambiguity, or uncertainty, can be just as real at work as on the road. We work to be tolerant of ambiguity and to be as confident as possible “sitting in” the space of not knowing. But, let’s be fair, 2020 has brought about a level and longevity of ambiguity that most of us have never experienced before. And for supervisors, this magnification of uncertainty can mean managing both individual and leadership challenges.
The Bridges Transition Model is a model of change that focuses on the inner transformation that individuals go through as they adjust to external changes. This model really captures that feeling of the “in-between” that helps highlight the uncertainty of change. The feeling of being in flux, of potential confusion and distress can accurately describe the experience that many of us recognize during this time.
Recognizing that you or that your team is experiencing this fluctuation is important for being able to address it. This may show up in a variety of behaviors. Difficulty focusing and conversely excessive busyness are both ways that employees may manage the anxiety that can accompany ambiguity. Increased gossiping might indicate that a team member is trying to get a better grasp of what is happening or what information other people have. And posturing behaviors that attempt to prove one’s worth might indicate when an employee is uncertain their work is still valued.
Of course, knowing about ambiguity and recognizing signs we might be experiencing the negative consequences of that uncertainty isn’t the end; it’s just the beginning. What many of us need are some different ideas about how to manage ourselves and lead others during ambiguity. Below are some ideas shared from different supervisors at Valencia. This list isn’t exhaustive, so as you read, take notes of things you have seen or experienced as well, and share your tips in the comments section. I’ll start with my own.
Take care of yourself
We know that we cannot give to others what we don’t have, and that, too, is where we all must start. For me, yoga has been instrumental during the time that we’ve worked from home. While I had done yoga before, it was, honestly, more of a social thing for me. I’d gather with my friends for yoga and a meal. It was an opportunity to get a little exercise mixed with a lot of comradery. Since the pandemic began, I wasn’t able to get either. Luckily, someone suggested we try a 30-day yoga challenge online. Soon, I realized how much a regular yoga practice helped me focus and to notice shifts in my mood. It’s not a magic bullet, but I’ve noticed so many benefits, and I’m on about day 112 of doing yoga on a daily basis.
Take care of your teams and urge them to take care of themselves
Isis Artze-Vega, vice president, academic affairs, shared how important it is to support the mental health of employees. Taking the time to read and learn more about ways to specifically support and model healthy behaviors is essential during times of uncertainty. “One thing I’ve done is to tell my division (during our division town hall) repeatedly since March that their wellness and that of their families and loved ones is my top priority,” Isis said.
She uses these Six Daily Quarantine Questions to encourage and to facilitate activities with her division. Recently she asked her team to think together about how the College is or is not yet supporting their wellness. Along with her leadership team, they gathered the feedback, discussed it, and in the following town hall “shared it back with the division and named the new commitments we will make to them, in light of their feedback.”
Communicate. Communicate more. And then communicate even more.
Researchers vary in the exact number, but the message is the same. People need to hear things multiple times to truly understand something and even more times (between six and 20 times, depending on the study) before they’ll act on it.
“Now is the time to over communicate; make sure everyone is in the loop and make sure that transparency is at the top of the list,” Mike Bosley, executive dean of the Lake Nona Campus, shared as one of the most essential things for a supervisor to do.
Sonya Joseph, associate vice president, enrollment management, echoed this sentiment and added the importance of being transparent about what is and isn’t possible to share during uncertainty. “We’re in uncertain times, and each day we’re learning new information or being moved in a different direction,” she said. “The answers I can give to questions are the answers right now with the information I have.”
Be honest about what you know. Share what you can, and update your team regularly as information becomes available or changes.
Identify what is within your control
It’s true, during times of ambiguity, you can’t know everything or know exactly what to do. But “rather than being frozen with uncertainty,” Melissa Pedone, interim executive dean, Osceola Campus, advises, “we can make plans to be able to move forward based on what we know and the variations that may be in front of us.”
Think back to that initial imagery of driving on an unknown road in the dark. There are things that you can anticipate. There are many things that are known. Rather than focusing on the enigmatic parts, use the known to continue moving and making incremental adjustments, as needed.
Start with, and celebrate, small wins
Knowing where we’re headed is really important. Building on momentum and seeing the possible positive future ahead will help us sustain the moments of not knowing. Michael Blackburn, manager, learning support services, shared this story of using small wins to create a more positive outlook.
“When we switched to online tutoring, one of the easiest things to agree on with the team was to use an already existing platform for the essay submission,” he said. “We temporarily used the Smarthinking platform during the end of the Fall 2019 semester to help save money. When we needed an avenue for students to continue submitting papers asynchronously, it made sense to use something that our tutors already knew and the students were already used to using, since we had to act fast.”
Focus on safe, consistent connection with and among your team
We know that this is important, and you may have even read about developing meaningful connection previously in The Grove. But it’s no less true six-months in as it was in the beginning. It’s a good time to revisit how you are fostering connection with and within your team. While some of us feel like we might have settled into this temporary “normal,” employees still need to know, whether they are on campus or working remotely, that they aren’t alone and often need support in making connections.
“Just as faculty offer engagement/office hours to students, I felt that I should offer something similar to the department,” Keri Siler, dean, mathematics, shared. “I quickly established ‘Keri’s office hours’ twice a week for the faculty.”
These Zoom sessions, which do not have a specific agenda, can often run well passed their scheduled time. But she sees how the sessions keep the team connected. They “offer a chance to share our lives and discoveries, ask questions and laugh together,” she said. “We also had a few family happy hours. Faculty were encouraged to bring their loved ones and pets to Zoom sessions. It was a unique opportunity to see each other in an environment outside of work and meet those that we hear about often.”
When we are able to tolerate ambiguity, we have the opportunity to reap the benefits of ambiguity: creativity and innovation. As we make our way through the transition phase of change, we find opportunities to make incremental changes and innovate toward the emerging future. This is the prize at the end, and we have to work cooperatively to acknowledge and manage the downsides of ambiguity to arrive at the upsides together.
A Message from Kathleen Plinske, Executive Vice President and Provost
I hope this message finds you well. While it’s hard to believe that we’re already thinking about the spring term, I write with a request for your feedback about the spring schedule as well as a reminder of our upcoming Strategic Planning forums.
– Spring 2021 Course Schedule – with registration for spring scheduled to begin for returning students on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, we’re working toward finalizing recommendations about the spring credit course schedule by the beginning of October. An interdisciplinary Design Team composed largely of faculty and deans has been exploring possible options for the course schedule to support continuity of student learning while prioritizing the health and safety of our students, employees and community.
The team invites your feedback on a set of draft design principles via this brief survey. As the Design Team is working quickly, we would appreciate your feedback by Monday, September 21, 2020.
– Strategic Planning Forums – special thanks to the more than 70 faculty and staff who attended one of our first two Strategic Planning forums. I invite you to mark your calendars to participate in upcoming planning forums in September and October to help identify and articulate our aspirational goals, viewed through the lens of opportunity and equity, that will serve as the foundation for our Strategic Impact Plan.
Our Strategic Impact Plan will articulate high-level, aspirational goals for the College that describe the “What?” and the “Why?” for our work in the areas of access, graduation, transfer success and workforce success. After we develop our Impact Plan this fall, we will continue our planning process in the spring by developing Institutional Plans that describe the “How?,” including the strategies and tactics that we will implement to make progress toward the goals articulated in the Strategic Impact Plan.
In an effort to avoid scheduling conflicts and to manage the size of discussion groups, we have scheduled multiple forums for each area. To maximize opportunities for your colleagues’ participation, please plan to attend only one forum for each area. If you are not able to make one of the synchronous forums, you will have the opportunity to provide your feedback via an online survey or by reaching out to Brandon McKelvey, vice president, analytics and planning, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In August we shared an example of our Talent Sharing program in action. We continue to see success with team members supporting departments within their division and across the College. With the start of the fall term, it brings along a need for the creation of a Quick Response Team — a special team that will support time-sensitive, short-term activities and projects to benefit our students.
Although we don’t know exactly what every need will be at this time, we will build this team of employees who may have capacity to support these last-minute needs with 48-72 hours of notice. As a supervisor, we’d love your help to build this Quick Response Team.
How Will the Quick Response Team Work?
As urgent projects arise, a member of the Organizational Development and Human Resources team will reach out to those on the Quick Response team for assistance. If the members have availability at the time, they must respond within 48 hours to be considered for the project.
Participants will work at the current rate of pay. No additional compensation will be given.
Since this is a temporary, short-term assignment, employees will continue reporting to their current supervisor in the system.
As a Supervisor, How Can I Help Build the Team?
Please think critically about the current workload of each member on your team and determine if any employees have capacity to take on other projects? If a member of your team does have capacity, please connect with him or her to discuss this call for support before submitting the name.
If the employee agrees to participating in the Quick Response Team, please email Talent Sharing Program Coordinator and Assistant Director, Conferencing and College Events Camille Hernandez at email@example.com with the name and email address of the team member. Camille will connect directly with the employee to learn more about his or her availability and work preferences.
For questions, contact Camille at the email address above or 407-299-5000, extension 5786.
Supervisor Summit and Supervisor Development session feedback has revealed the value of having opportunities for supervisors to share experiences, such as challenges, successes and tips to support our teams. With that in mind, this fall, as part of our Employee Development Schedule, Organizational Development and Human Resources and supervisors from around the College are co-hosting five roundtable sessions on: Delegating, Establishing Communication Preferences, Managing Time, Productive One-on-One and Team Meetings, and Team Cohesion.
Sessions will share tools, as well as considerations affected by working in our current environment. We invite all supervisors to join the roundtable sessions to learn from one another.
Establishing Communication Preferences
Date: Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Time: 10 – 11 a.m.
Moving to a remote work environment brings a variety of challenges. It is important to establish individual and team preferences surrounding communication. Join in a conversation with other supervisors about what is working and share challenges. Click here to register in the Valencia EDGE.
Productive One-On-One and Team Meetings
Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Date: Thursday, October 29, 2020
Time: 1 – 2 p.m.
Great leaders focus on the most important priorities. But in a busy work environment, we have to learn to choose wisely. See how to make your priorities real by explaining the context behind these priorities to your team, crafting detailed implementation plans and helping employees think through their own workflow. Click here to register in the Valencia EDGE.
These days, we’re all overwhelmed. We can’t make more time, and our professional obligations aren’t going away. The only answer is delegation. Learn what other supervisors are doing and share your experiences with delegating. Click here to register in the Valencia EDGE.
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Time: 11 a.m. – 12 p.m.
An opportunity for supervisors to share challenges as well as what’s working for them. Learn from one another’s experiences with enhancing team dynamics and creating personal connections, tools that have helped and any considerations impacted by working in our current environment. Click here to register in the Valencia EDGE.
For many of us, there has been an increase in the amount of remote work that our teams are now required to engage in. While that comes with great positives, it can present challenges in our recognition efforts. Though many of us are not able to recognize our teams in person, there are many innovative solutions to recognize team members remotely.
Over the past few months, I have talked to many supervisors about their recognition efforts for their teams. From those conversations, many great ideas have been shared about the amazing things that have been done over the past few months to recognize their team members.
If you find yourself having a hard time thinking through how to recognize your team members for a career anniversary, an accomplishment tied to a project or for any other reason, a few supervisors have offered to share the ways that they are using their available resources to recognize their team members. I have included some examples below:
“I’ve leveraged the “Praise” feature within [Microsoft] Teams or tagged them within shared meeting outputs and feedback from leadership. I also like to credit staff directly as a reference or example of what alignment or ‘doing something well’ looks like.” – Ken Rivera, director, network and infrastructure
“Car parades, e-gift cards and work social media shout outs for work anniversaries, birthdays and milestones.” – LaTasha Graham, assistant director, transitions planning
“Fun Zoom backgrounds for anniversaries, fun Photoshopped PowerPoints, individual messages, ecards.” — Anonymous
Some other ways to recognize your team members include:
Having your team send congratulatory and encouraging comments of appreciation through email on the anniversary date. All emails could be sent to you as the supervisor to put in one email to send to the team member.
Setting up a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting with your team on the anniversary date and recognizing the team member.
Sending a handwritten note of appreciation directly to the team members’ home.
If you would like to talk about ways to share your recognition practices with other supervisors or about possible practices for your team, please contact the Employee Development Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-299-5000, extension 5140.