Apr 2009 | Best Practices Launches Redesigned Website
The Best Practices initiative is pleased to announce the launch of its updated and redesigned website. The site can be found at http://www.yale.edu/bestpractices/.
The new site features a toolkit of practical resources useful for anyone involved in promoting partnership in their workplaces, such as facilitation guides, sample agendas, and consensus-building techniques.
Visitors to the site can also find complete information about the Best Practices staff, the university and union officials who lead the partnership, success stories, recent news and answers to frequently asked questions.
Best Practices is a way for supervisors, the clerical and technical workers of Local 34 and the service and maintenance workers of Local 35 to tackle workplace issues that are important to them and to Yale’s growth. Through small teams within and across departments, they find common ground on mutual concerns like training, productivity, communication, customer service and employee satisfaction.
The website design was created with the support of Yale ITS Web Services. For more information about the launch of the redesigned website or to provide feedback, contact Debra Arcangelo-Vitale at 436-8584, firstname.lastname@example.org or Michele Potter at 436-8586, email@example.com.
Jan 2009 | Library Staff Receives Facilitator's Training to Support Interest-Based Problem Solving Pilot
Five Yale University employees began IBPS facilitator’s training in January to support the goals of the Interest-Based Problem Solving (IBPS) initiative at Yale University Library. The training, provided through the office of Best Practices, is helping prepare the staff facilitate IBPS in Library departments during the pilot period and beyond.
The five staff members were Christopher Killheffer in access services, Ernest Marinko in workstation infrastructure, Patricia Simon in acquisitions, Margaret Seca in access services, and Dolores Colon in tech services.
Additionally, Liz Johnson from the document delivery department and co-chair of the IPBS Task Force and Ernie Scrivani, Staff Training and Organizational Development Manager were trained in IBPS skills in October. Johnson and Scrivani will be available to colleagues to deliver IBPS training after the one –year pilot to assist with the Library’s alternative dispute resolution initiative, which encourages each party to generate solutions to conflicts that will meet everyone’s interests. The Library launched a one-year pilot of IBPS in November.
“IBPS helps people to just talk through a problem before grievances start getting filed,” says Debra Arcangelo-Vitale, Facilitator for Best Practices. “Sometimes they need someone to help the conversation along, and that’s where the facilitators will come in. They’ve learned about the stages of group development, coaching and keeping meetings going, and the end result should be improved communication overall among the library staff.”
The Library has set up a website devoted to the IPBS project.
Nov 2008 | Unit-Based JDCs Take the Lead in Dining Services
The Joint Departmental Committee (JDC) concept in Yale Dining Services has trickled down to individual dining halls so that most have their own unit-based committee.
JDCs are workplace partnerships made up of management and union representatives that identify opportunities for workplace improvement and oversee those projects. The Dining Services JDC first formed four years ago. Last year, when tackling a particularly complicated project related to attendance, they solicited more involvement from working groups in each dining hall.
Those groups have taken root as their own JDCs and this fall approximately eighteen of them began taking the lead on projects in their own workplaces. In addition, they all are actively promoting higher participation in two university-wide projects—the United Way campaign and the workplace survey.
For example, says Mike Schoen, an Advisor for Best Practices and a long-time First Cook at Berkeley Dining Hall, participation in the online survey might be lower for dining hall workers usually, because dining hall workers have less access to computers than most Yale employees.
“They offer hard copies, but that needs lots of reinforcement,” says Schoen. “Now rather than just the manager standing up at a meeting and making an announcement, it involves someone from the union and someone who is their co-worker, and it comes across more effectively. So we expect strong participation, which means the staff here gets their concerns heard. It improves communication all around.”
Now that those unit-based JDCs are in place, says Schoen, they can begin tackling issues unique to their own workplaces.
More information about the development of the union-management partnership in Dining Services is here.
Nov 2008 | Library Staff Launches Interest-Based Problem Solving with Training for Staff
Over 80 members of the Yale University Library staff received two days of training in Interest-Based Problem Solving (IBPS) between September and November and have begun to implement its methods in their workplace.
The training, provided through the office of Best Practices, marks the kick-off of the Library’s year-long pilot of interest-based problem-solving. A project team designated by the Library’s Joint Departmental Committee (JDC) recommended and designed the project, and cleared it with the JDC, Library managers, and the Best Practices Initiative Steering Committee. The goal is to learn from this effort, and to consider possible broader implementation of conflict resolution methods.
IBPS is a conflict resolution process focused on identifying the interests that all parties have in a dispute and generating solutions that meet everyone’s interests. In practice, it can be as informal as two employees using the techniques in a private conversation or as formal as calling in facilitators to help resolve a dispute.
“This might be used for individual issues like a dispute over tardiness or for systemic issues like a vague policy that affects everyone in a department,” says Deb Arcangelo-Vitale, Facilitator in Best Practices. “The goal is to head off problems before they lead to formal grievances on the labor side or formal disciplinary actions on the management side. It gives people more options for resolving the dispute.”
Both the Library and Yale Health Services are piloting IBPS. The Library’s IBPS project team and Best Practices are monitoring the Library’s project with an evaluation plan that includes pre and post surveys on labor relations and focus groups with library staff.
“IBPS engenders better relationships, a better working environment and ultimately better service to Library users,” says Arcangelo-Vitale. “Our Steering Committee’s hope is that next November the assessment will tell us it is working and that we can roll out this initiative to the rest of the University.”
“It’s really great that the Library JDC took the lead on this,” says Arcangelo-Vitale. “They’ve been working hard to encourage more union-management partnership since they first formed, and this is the next natural step.”
The Library has set up a website devoted to the IPBS project.
Oct 2008 | Union Leadership Development Project Launched
The Best Practices initiative has launched a union leadership development project in partnership with Unite Here Local 34, which represents more than 3,000 clerical and technical workers at Yale University.
The project identifies key leaders in the union, such as stewards and organizers, and provides training and support so that they can better participate in union-management partnerships around Yale. Local 34 leaders may be involved in Joint Departmental Committees or in special projects like the Interest-Based Problem Solving initiatives that are underway at the Yale University Library and Yale Health Services. Seventeen people participated in a four-day training in late September and early October, and two more groups will receive the training in early 2009.
“The goal of this is to create a foundation so these union representatives can really take a leadership role in union-management partnerships so they can be successful,” says Lorraine Skibitcky, Facilitator for Best Practices and a member of Local 34.
“For example, one thing they’re learning is how to listen for and understand the other side’s interests. That way they’re not just trying to get their position forward but are trying to get their interests met, along with the other side, which is ultimately a lot more productive for everyone.”
For more information about the union leadership development project, contact Lorraine Skibitcky at 203-436-8594 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept 2008 | Managers Learning “Labor Relations Essentials”
Managers in several university departments have begun learning more about labor relations and related legal issues through pilots of a new workshop, “Labor Relations Essentials for Managers.”
A joint union-management design team developed the workshop in a collaboration between Best Practices and Managing at Yale, drawing on the experience of skilled trainers from the Cornell University ILR School. The workshop is intended for a managers-only audience and teaches them the essential concepts they need to manage effectively in a unionized environment. The workshop is expected to be provided to managers beginning at Yale in 2009 as part of the Managing at Yale initiative.
Three pilots of the workshop were conducted in August and September to obtain feedback and to refine the workshop design. The pilots involved managers from Dining Services, Yale University Library, the Medical School, Human Resources, and other departments. Approximately 70 managers participated. Michele Potter, Facilitator for Best Practices, says, “This was a very practical workshop—helping people apply the law to common situations. Probably one of the biggest benefits is that it let people know they weren’t out there on their own when they have a tough management situation. There are structures they can fall back on.”
For more information about the workshops and upcoming opportunities, contact Michele Potter at 203-436-8586 or email@example.com.
Aug 2008 | Best Practices Staff Profiled in Yale At Work
The quarterly newsletter Yale At Work recently profiled the Best Practices staff. They wrote:
"Yale's Best Practices Facilitators—Debra Arcangelo-Vitale, Michele Potter, Lorraine Skibitcky, Brian Wingate—under the leadership of Jane Savage, director, Best Practices, and with the support of Laurie Manganiello, senior administrative assistant, and Mike Schoen, Best Practices advisor, see themselves as a family in the best sense of the word."
Click here to read the rest of the article.
July 2008 | New Facilitators for Best Practices Initiative Hired
Michele Potter, former training coordinator at Yale Medical Group, joined Best Practices as a facilitator in July. Michele has worked as both a C&T and M&P in her many years of service with the University. As a union steward in her early career she gained the trust and loyalty of the staff by simply “treating others as she wished to be treated”. Michele’s immeasurable patience, exceptional customer service skills and instinctive people skills will be a benefit to the Best Practices Initiatives.
Lorraine Skibitcky, former senior administrative assistant at Yale School of Art and a member of Local 34 Executive Board, joined Best Practices as a facilitator in July 2008. An employee for over 20 years, Lorraine brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the department and will be a valuable asset as she helps the department implement union-management joint initiatives. Her ability to quickly resolve issues and act as a change agent helps to create meaningful outcomes. Lorraine is known for active listening skills, mentoring others and advocating for making positive change in the workplace.
May 2008 | Library Pilots Interest-Based Problem Solving Process
In 2007, the Best Practices Initiative Steering Committee chartered a pilot project in the Yale University Library to design an interest-based problem-solving process that enables managers and employees to resolve conflicts as they arise. A team of union and management leaders in the Library learned more about interest-based problem-solving and studied alternative dispute resolution processes in place at other workplaces.
They developed a set of recommendations outlining a clear process for triggering interest-based problem-solving, a training proposal, and facilitation support for the pilot. The recommendations currently are being reviewed by key stakeholders. It is anticipated that approximately 10 percent of the Library population will be trained and participate in a year-long pilot testing the design. The pilot period will enable the Library Joint Departmental Committee to measure impact and to make adaptations based on lessons learned before replicating it across the Library and in other departments on campus.
Last Updated: September 16, 2011 (map).