The University Record, October 15, 1996

Staff at the U-M introduced to UMatter recognition program

The Dan Spriggs Trio entertained staff during the reception following the program.

Photos by Paul Jaronski

By Jared Blank


"It takes an orchestra to make a symphony," John Toller said as he recognized the efforts of University staff at "UMatter! Recognition Beyond Words" on Oct. 10 at the Power Center. The assistant executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action opened the program, which was held as way for the University to say "thank you" to staff members for their creativity and enthusiasm in the workplace.

The event also was an opportunity to introduce the new UMatter program to the University community. The new staff recognition program is designed to individually recognize a staff member for an outstanding achievement or contribution to her unit, or for providing exemplary service to the University. Beginning January 1, staff members who have completed at least one year of full-time service can be nominated by anyone for their achievement. Up to ten people each month will receive awards, which include a pin designed exclusively for the UMatter program.

Farris W. Womack, executive vice president and chief financial officer, suggested an additional way to recognize staff members for their accomplishments. "One of the things we do poorly at Michigan is to say thank you, or show appreciation to others at work. We've fallen into a habit of never saying to our co-workers that they did a good job," he said. "Seize the opportunity to say thank you to people around you every day."

Womack added that staff must "take charge" and be proactive in the workplace. "It's a lot better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission," he said.

John Cassis, motivational speaker for the Chicago Bears, told staff members that warmth, honesty and a sense of humor make for a better workplace.

An inspirational presentation filled with stories of football, golf and Little League was given by motivational speaker John Cassis. Cassis, who is the pre-game speaker for the Chicago Bears, offered suggestions to improve working environments and one's self.

"I think people don't get burned out on their jobs, they get burned out on the atmosphere in which they do their jobs. There are no perfect jobs, and no perfect places to work," he said, but many people come together to create a chemistry that makes for a successful workplace. Cassis noted a successful workplace includes a sense of belonging, a sense of empowerment and the ability for people to grow in their job.

Cassis suggested that people try to create a fun, personable atmosphere in the workplace. "People are not impressed with credentials, they are impressed with character," Cassis said, citing warmth, honesty and a sense of humor as characteristics that people appreciate from co-workers. He added that during periods of change, people often tend to fight their new surroundings. "When things feel weird, we often back off. But it can be a potential for opportunity. It's all how you see it," he said, noting the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, as it can snowball into a positive attitude throughout the workplace.

The October 8 issue of the University Record included a special section on staff recognition programs across the University.

Staff get awards for exemplary service
Last week's staff recognition program also was an opportunity to present awards to staff members for exemplary service in a number of areas.

Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards were presented to staff in Housing Facilities and University Housing; Dave Kluck, dining services manager in West Quad; the 17 staff members of the "Green Team" in the Business School; and 40 staff members of Printing Services.

The Women of Color Task Force presented the Woman of the Year in Leadership award to W. Jean Watson, director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at the U-M-Dearborn, for her constant support of women of color on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses. Cathleen Conway-Perrin, administrative assistant in LS&A Advising, received the Rebecca Vaughan Distinguished Service award for her active involvement with the Women of Color Task Force.

Workplace of the '90s awards were presented to staff members from across the University for their extraordinary service. The Exemplary Team Award went to the Division of Rheumatology Administrative staff for their "willingness and ability to learn multiple tasks ... and resolve complex problems with short notice." J. Fabiana Johnson, administrative associate in the Department of Dermatology, received the Outstanding Leadership Award for her honesty and accessibility as keys to her effective leadership within the 140-employee department." The Distinguished Service Award was presented to James R. Randolph, assistant director in the Division of Research Development and Administration (DRDA). He was cited for making "a positive difference for individuals and units across the University in his work with DRDA."