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Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I've recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.

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Dress Codes?

It’s summer! The weather outside is hot, the air conditioning is finicky, the attitude is more relaxed. On top of all this, clothing styles are more revealing (and more acceptable) than ever.  This is the time of year where we in HR get lots of questions about what is appropriate to wear
to work. No, there isn’t an institutional dress code. But managers and supervisors have the right, maybe even the obligation, to ensure employees dress appropriately. As you can guess, “appropriate” is up for interpretation.

Summer is a state of mind.No!

Employees in 2016 have more power to affect their own work experience. Microsoft is an industry leader in this regard.  From their website [1]:

Flexibility. Whether you are an early bird or a late riser, flexible work hours allow you to work when you are at your best. Our dress code is simple: you have your own style; we expect you to bring it.

At the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH), a small nonprofit based in Chicago, the dress code is two words: “No nudity.”

Many people argue that authenticity and individual expression are hallmarks of being productive and successful at work. Allowing employees to determine what to wear to work each day, without it being dictated from the top, increases employee engagement. [2]  Especially in a world that has 18-22 year old students as the customer, establishing approachability and rapport from a “what to wear” perspective can be seen a good thing.

Yes!

Think Mad Men! There was a time when business suits, button-down shirts, polished shiny shoes ruled the day and the workplace for both men and women. There are still reasons that professional dress is important:

  • It establishes the brand for the organization.  It creates an image of professionalism.
  • Some believe it has an influence on job performance. Researchers from California State University and Columbia [3] found that “formal business attire enhances how employees are “seen by others and the way workers view themselves…”
  • Formal dress codes can create stronger work culture. Everyone in the work group operates on the same level.
  • Some employees really like dress codes and the stability that knowing the rules provides.
- Staci  Sleigh-Layman

1 https://careers.microsoft.com/benefits
2 HR Magazine, SHRM, June 2016, page 28.
3 HR Magazine, SHRM, June 2016, page 29.

 
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The Griffey I Remember

Ken Griffey, Jr. was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown on Sunday. Accolades abound. The Seattle Times published a special section that chronicles his accomplishments on the field, his shenanigans in the clubhouse, and his commitment to

Make a Wish

I grew up in a baseball family. My dad tried out for the Seattle Rainiers after his stint in the Navy. He originally dreamed of having nine daughters for his very own softball team. I have fond memories of attending Cubs and Twins ball games at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma where I learned to keep score and recognize subtleties of the game. I was born a bit early to reap the benefits of Title IX so didn’t have the opportunity to play softball in high school but I did enjoy playing in tavern leagues in high school and college.

Of course, my kids would play, and come to love, baseball! And it was so easy with a guy like Griffey! For our children, especially our son Andy, Griffey was baseball. He and his friends emulated the swing, practiced (yes, practiced!) the drop of the bat while watching the imaginary home run, and, of course, wore their hats backward. Number 24 was the most sought after jersey in little league! For me as a parent, Griffey was, and remains, just the Kid who loved the game. He played with panache, with swagger, and with humility…he just played. But best of all, Griffey was a hero off the field too. As a parent I never had to make excuses for his behavior, never had to explain to my kids why he was arrested. Too bad that’s so rare.

The smile. The grin. The laugh. The play. Thanks for the memories, Kid. Congratulations!

- Staci Sleigh-Layman
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Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter's departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said:

"I love you and I wish you enough."

The daughter replied, "Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom." They kissed and the daughter left.

The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry.  I tried not to intrude on her privacy but she welcomed me in by asking, "Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?" "Yes, I have," I replied. "Forgive me for asking but why is this a forever good-bye?"

"I am old and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral," she said.

When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, "I wish you enough." May I ask what that means?"

She began to smile. "That's a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone." She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail and she smiled even more.

"When we said 'I wish you enough' we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them". Then turning toward me, she shared the following, reciting it from memory,

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.

I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person. An hour to appreciate them. A day to love them. And an entire life to forget them.

- Author Unknown

 

My mom and dad celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary today. I wish them enough.

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Black Lives Matter

As I write Weekly Wisdom this week, my head tells me to stay far away from Black Lives Matter, but my heart tells me that I have to hit the topic head on. Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Dallas police officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson and Patrick Zamarripa. We all have to do something.

 

I’ve done a lot of thinking about who I am in the last week. Had a long conversation with one of my daughter’s good friends in the Army, who happens to be an African-American and a Westpoint graduate. Searched the Internet for insight and opinion.  One of the TED videos I found made me cry the first time and continues to affect me emotionally each time I view it.  It’s only five minutes long so check it out at: www.ted.com/talks/clint_smith_how_to_raise_a_black_son_in_america?language=en

According to TED, Clint Smith is a “poet and educator whose work blends art and activism.”  The most poignant part of the talk is when Smith describes a night of play with friends in a parking lot hotel:

…I think of how one night, when I was around 12 years old, on an overnight field trip to another city, my friends and I bought Super Soakers and turned the hotel parking lot into our own water-filled battle zone. We hid behind cars, running through the darkness that lay between the streetlights, boundless laughter ubiquitous across the pavement. But within 10 minutes, my father came outside, grabbed me by my forearm and led me into our room with an unfamiliar grip. Before I could say anything, tell him how foolish he had made me look in front of my friends, he derided me for being so naive. Looked me in the eye, fear consuming his face, and said, "Son, I'm sorry, but you can't act the same as your white friends. You can't pretend to shoot guns. You can't run around in the dark. You can't hide behind anything other than your own teeth."

He goes on:

These are the sorts of messages I've been inundated with my entire life: Always keep your hands where they can see them, don't move too quickly, take off your hood when the sun goes down. My parents raised me and my siblings in an armor of advice, an ocean of alarm bells so someone wouldn't steal the breath from our lungs, so that they wouldn't make a memory of this skin. So that we could be kids, not casket or concrete.  And it's not because they thought it would make us better than anyone else it's simply because they wanted to keep us alive.

 

As the mother of three, I’ve never felt as though I had to protect my children in this way, never had to take the time, never had to live with this underlying fear. There was once when a swing almost knocked out our oldest and the brief cancer scare for our son. I have assumed all along that all parents dealt with the same physical fears for their children. I was wrong.

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.     Staci Sleigh-Layman

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Pat Summitt

USP NCAA WOMENS BASKETBALL: GEORGIA AT TENNESSEE S BKC USA TNPat Summitt died on Tuesday (6/28/16). I didn’t like her much, but I respected her.  I hated watching her coach. She was firey, yelled at her players and the referees.  She was the women’s basketball coach at Tennessee for 38 years. Her lifetime win percentage was an astonishing 84% (1,098-208). She was the winningest basketball coach, male or female, of all time. President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, recognized, with the Congressional Gold Medal, as the nation’s highest civilian awards.

 

According to USA Today, “Pat Summitt is our John Wooden,” Baylor women’s coach Kim Mulkey said in comparing Summitt to the legendary men’s basketball coach at UCLA. “No matter how many national championships (other coaches) win, there will never be another Pat.”

Summit had begun to worry about her health during the 2010-11 season when she drew a blank on an offensive set during a game, then sought a diagnosis at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Washington Post columnist 

Sally Jenkins — who wrote biographies with Summitt  and considered Summitt her best friend — wrote that the coach almost punched the first doctor who told her she was beginning to experience dementia. When a second advised her to retire immediately, Summitt said, “Do you know who you’re dealing with?”

She learned to shoot hoops in a barn loft with her brothers, became an All-America basketball player at the University of Tennessee-Martin and won a silver medal on the 1976 U.S. Olympic team. When Summitt coached the USA to gold at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, she became the first in U.S. Olympic basketball history to play on and coach medal-winning teams.

This is, in my opinion, the most impressive stat I saw yesterday…The graduation rate for Summitt's players who completed eligibility at UT is 100%.

Wow!  Just w

ow!

 
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Calling the names…

 

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

 

I spent Saturday handing out programs to 
families and friends of our graduates. As their names were called, graduates ascended the stage, shook hands, and celebrated…smiles, tears, and overt excitement.
In my mind it stands in stark contrast to
hearing the names of the victims of the Orlando attack…
and my imaging of their last moments of fear and anguish.
May their lives have mattered. May they rest in peace.
 
 
 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.     Staci Sleigh-Layman

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Making a Difference

I grew up in the 1960s. I remember, as a youngster, the Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinations, freedom marches in the south, Vietnam, landing on the moon…and Muhammad Ali. Ali was something! He was loud, brash, a person that went along with “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eye can’t see.” I was aware he converted to Muslim, changed his name, refused to be drafted during the Vietnam War, and ultimately won his case before the Supreme Court…just bigger than life all around.

I read an article by Sports Columnist Matt Calkins yesterday in The Seattle Times (available at http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/:

What recent sports figure has blended fame, dominance, charisma and courage like “The Greatest”? Who has managed to rail against the establishment without sacrificing an inch of his global reach? Who has had it all and been willing to lose it all for the sake of principle?

   And within a couple of minutes, it became clear the answer was “nobody.”

He concludes the article with:

One of my favorite Ali stories involves a cancer-stricken boy he visited just before the Foreman fight. Hearing the kid was on death’s door, Ali repeated the phrase “I’m gonna beat George Foreman, and you’re going to beat cancer.” Replied the boy: “No, I’m going to meet God, and I’m going to tell him I know you.”

It’s hard to think of another athlete who would elicit that type of reaction today…“The Greatest” will be an accurate title for years to come.

The HR Leadership Team also listened to a TED Talk interview with Norman Lear, the creator of such iconic TV shows as The Jeffersons, All In the Family, Sanford and Sons, etc.  At 93 years old, Lear believes it’s the little things that everyone does every day for other people that really changes the world.  There was "An Evening with Norman Lear" within the last year where Lear and a group of hip-hop impresarios and performers were on stage together.  Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records was among seven on the stage. “And when he talked about (Lear’s) shows, he…was talking about a simple thing that made a big…impact on him. He saw George Jefferson write a check on The Jeffersons, and he never knew that a black man could write a check. It changed his life.”

This single statement has challenged me to find a little something to do every day for someone else…that could change one life, maybe even mine.

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.     Staci Sleigh-Layman

 

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For those of you who read my Weekly Wisdom of last week, you know that I had taken the opportunity to clean my office using the 5S (sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain) model. I ran into lots of little slips of paper with various quotes. Here are some of my favorites:

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains;
And we never know we have the key.”

-Lyrics form Already Gone, The Eagles

Sometimes, It’s ok to step back and admit you’re being ridiculous.

-Unknown

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths,
But the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”

- Anne Frank (from one of those desk calendars, August 20, 2009)

Sometimes burning bridges isn’t a bad thing…it prevents you from going back to a place you should have never have been to begin with.

Two things define you:
• Your patience when you have nothing, and
• Your attitude when you have everything.

Yesterday
I was clever,
so I wanted to change the world.
Today
I am wise, so I am changing myself.
                                           -Rumi

Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart, try to love the questions themselves.
Do not seek the answers that cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them and the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now;
Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it,
Live along some distant day into the answers.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

Turn your wounds into wisdom.
  Oprah

 

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I’ve recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.     Staci Sleigh-Layman

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For the past month or so (and for many months ahead), HR has been participating in a process called Kaizen. Kaizen is a process of continuous improvement. “One of the most notable features of kaizen is that big results come from many small changes accumulated over time.” For a full explanation visit www.kaizen.com.  One component of kaizen is five-S. The 5 steps are: sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain. According to Gwendolyn Galsworth, “Visual order is the foundation of excellence…When (everything) is in its place…, work gets done efficiently and effectively. When it is not in place, work still gets done – but at a level of cost that is hard to justify.”

      I spent part of last Friday doing 5S. To bring you up to speed, I have moved offices seven times since 2011. Many of the moves were done very quickly; once I wasn’t even involved. Colleagues packed and moved my stuff because my time was committed elsewhere. While I had purged a lot of stuff, there was still lots of paper that had been accumulated. I found myself struggling to find things both in paper files and electronic files. I spend time searching for things and then, often, I would have to recreate the document. So, I welcomed the opportunity to sort through my file cabinets. And boy, did I! I filled one and a half huge blue garbage cans with recycling paper. I identified two drawers of paper for shredding. I organized six file drawers of files that are used by a variety of people and are frequently provided in response to public record requests. I can’t tell you have liberating it is to have made such progress. Although I ran across a few items that were historically significant, most of what I examined was not worth keeping. I’d suggest to anyone that they take the time to “sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain.”

      On another note, I was lucky enough to participate in SOURCE last week. I attended a talk by Mitchell Thomashow on his book, “The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus.” The nine elements include:

Infrastructure

Community

Learning

Energy

Governance

Curriculum

Food

Investment

Aesthetics

Materials

Wellness

Interpretation

 

        Dr. Thomashow was passionate about sustainability and challenged us to think broadly about it. “We succeed and stumble together. We develop expertise while reminding ourselves of the daunting and complex challenges. It is too grandiose to think that we can save the world. But we can do our best to construct thriving communities in our place and time.” Cleaning my office was the first step!

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4 Lessons for Aspiring Leaders

            I have reworked an article that appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, May 13, 2016 (chroniclevitae.com/news/1379-4-lessons-for-aspiring-administrators). I used the writer’s (Kevin Gannon) lessons but interpreted them in my own words. I know. I know. Many of us don’t have aspirations to actually be an administrator, but I think these lessons are applicable to everyone. Everyone has the potential to be a leader.

Not every disagreement is a call to arms. While each of us has responsibility for our own work, maybe even a unit, we also must make an effort to see the larger, institutional picture. We have to make an effort to see what others are struggling with, what creativity is being used to solve interesting problems. Regardless of our position, we have to know what issues are “weighing on colleagues across the university and are, therefore, larger institutional priorities.” It also give us insight into what issues don’t get that attention. Just because a few people are committed to a specific cause, doesn’t mean that it warrants institutional support.  Central Today, talking with co-workers, attending meetings, even keeping abreast of meeting agendas and minutes can give you this perspective.


How and when I use my voice matters. We have a responsibility to advocate for our areas of responsibility. “Sometimes that means speaking truth to power; other times it means speaking truth to colleagues.” Being a leader means a) finding your voice and b) using it for good.
 
I think one of the most important ways that each of us should use our voice is in the area of equality for people of color and women. “Structures of power and privilege are real, they're insidious, and they're all around us." It is incumbent on all of us to know institutional policies and procedures on discrimination, bullying and workplace harassment, to walk the talk, and to implement them at our individual offices and work units. And when they need to be changed, leaders work to make those changes.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Leaders don’t know everything. Managing multiple projects, budgets, and programming, juggling calendars, remaining prepared for committee work and other meetings…all these things require expertise. Ask for help. “I had to fight the instinct to fake it until you make it.”

No one likes to acknowledge weakness, but honesty is imperative, especially when you don’t know something.” There are always people who are willing to help.


Be good to people (including yourself). Our work lives are really in the details.  But we don’t have to be “involved in every task force, project, or conversation.”  We  need to trust people around us. Minutiae is deadly. ”Leadership has become a matter of knowing and respecting my colleagues all over campus, (and) appreciating it.”
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