Cal Dining Culture Spotlight

Hi Student Affairs. We want to share with you a brief story about a team that is building pride, trust and community in their workplace! Cal Dining provides meal service to approximately 33,000 customers on an average school day. They accomplish this miraculous feat with 350 career employees, roughly 400 student employees and a whole lot of teamwork.  

In fall semester 2015, Jennifer Garcia, Training Coordinator for Cal Dining attended the National Association of College & University Food Services customer service training institute where she started developing the concept of a customer service “recipe for success”. Customer service, described in recipe format, requires specific high quality ingredients added at the right time and mixed together well to create a best in class customer experience.

As a trainer, Jennifer liked the idea of using a recipe as medium for communication and training with Cal Dining staff. It is memorable, has mass appeal, and is relatable and translatable to all staff. Jennifer shared this concept with Samantha Lubow, Environment Initiatives Coordinator, who recommended designing a chocolate bar label that displayed Cal Dining’s customer service recipe. Not only would this be a great training tool, but also a gift to say thank you, we appreciate you, and we recognize your contributions!

Please watch the following video to learn more about the result of this initiative:



We Deserve It


Every Team Deserves a Great Manager

Gallup insists that organizations should demand that every team in their workforce have a great manager. Engagement happens at the local level with managers developing and maintaining a great workplace culture. Gallup estimates that managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Teams are made up of people with diverse needs related to morale, motivation, and clarity which leads to variable performance. Only great managers can maximize them.

Gallup finds that great managers have the following talents:

  • They motivate each employee and engage them with a compelling mission & vision
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and overcome adversity and resistance
  • They create a culture of clear accountability
  • They build relationships that create trust, open communication, and transparency
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics

Great managers are scarce and the talent required to be one is rare. Gallup’s research reveals that about one in ten people have the innate talent to manage. While many possess some key traits, few have the rare mix of skills necessary to lead a team to excellence, significantly improving organizational performance. Because the role of manager is one of great influence and responsibility, there is a critical need for tools and support for success. If you want to improve employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and success – manager performance is the key.

Here are three things you can do today to maximize your managerial effectiveness:

  1. Create a feedback system to find out how you are doing from peers and team members
  2. Outline your development goals.  Write them down.  Be specific and include dates
  3. Find an experienced mentor to provide a safe place to learn, ask questions, and receive coaching

Erin Wixson, Senior Organizational Consultant

Put Inspiration to Work


On Monday, a colleague sent a personal message to our team that read You may already know but just in case, today is New Student Convocation in the Greek Theatre, 5pm-6pm (doors open at 4pm). If you need a little positive spirit, I’d highly recommend coming to this event! It really brings that excitement ceremony of a “new year” on a college campus and also shows our students we are one big community!” What he was talking about, in work culture terms, was ‘inspiration’. Inspiring is defined by Great Place to Work® as helping people understand the value of their efforts and the meaning behind their work. Great companies create a sight line to the goals of the organization that help individuals recognize and apply the value they bring to the organization. This builds pride.

On August 18th, members of our Learning and Development team attended the Culture Summit 2016 in San Francisco and learned about The Energy Project, an organization of energy champions who help create workplaces that are healthier, happier, and higher performing. In partnership with the Harvard Business Review, The Energy Project deployed The Quality of Life @ Work study of 20,000 employees around the world to assess factors that most influence how people feel at work, and how they perform as a result. The survey confirmed that leaders set the tone for the energy of their team and are critical role models for positive practices. However, only 20% of employees reported having a leader who communicates a vision that is clear, consistent, and inspiring. “Those that did reported being 70% more satisfied with their jobs, 56% more engaged, and 100% more likely to stay with their organizations.”

So how do we expand and renew a sense of meaning and purpose in our work?

Here are a few inspiring practices from inspiring leaders:

  • Niki Lustig, leader of the Learning and Organizational Development team at Twitter facilitated a process to help managers define the unique purposes of their teams by drafting team purpose statements. She started by creating a 10 minute, 9 question “Purpose Pre-Work Survey. She then led teams through a process of consolidation into a concise statement that was“inspirational and aspirational” and that fit closely within the organizational context. To learn more about this process, read ‘Can Higher Purpose Help Your Team Survive and Thrive?’ by Brad Wolfe.
  • James Carroll, Assistant Director, Residential Education at UC Berkeley facilitated participation of all ResEd professional staff in the Berkeley Staff Experience Certificate Program. The program, designed by Resident Director, Marney Randle, serves to engage employees in activities that connect them closer to the mission and purpose of the University. ResEd staff completed activities in four engagement areas: self care, professional development, the Berkeley experience, and the student experience to earn program certification. A few examples included attending New Student Convocation and celebrating on Sproul Plaza during Admissions Decision Day. This effort demonstrated leadership commitment to campus engagement that connects and inspires staff.

What is your inspiring practice?

Erin Wixson, Senior Organizational Consultant

Photo credit: © 2016



Can You Listen to Me Now?

According to Great Place to Work, one of the nine practice areas where leaders and managers create an environment of trust and achieve organizational goals is listening. Often times, when employees say they want their voices heard, they are really saying they want leaders who will not just hear them, but really listen to them.  Conscious listening creates greater understanding. Leaders and managers who listen create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and yield loyalty.  

While listening is one of the most important skills a leader and manager can
have, impacting job effectiveness and relationship quality, many of us are not great at it. In fact, resimages-1earch suggests that we remember only 25 to 50 percent of what we hear. So when we
talk with our colleagues, we pay attention to less than half of the conversation. Listening is becoming even more challenging as our world is increasingly fast paced, loud, and distracting.  S
ound expert Julian Treasure asserts, “We are losing our listening.” In
his short, 7 minute talk, Treasure shares five ways we can re-tune our ears for conscious listening to others and the world around us. 

Watch the Following TED Talk – Julian Treasure: 5 Ways to Listen Better

Here are Five exercises from Julian you Can Practice Today to Improve Your Conscious Listening:

  1. Silence: Take 3 minutes/day to reset your ears in silence to hear quiet again.
  2. The Mixer: Take a moment and try to distinguish all of the channels of noise you are hearing at once. This action will help you identify the many sounds you are missing.
  3. Savoring: Enjoy interesting and mundane sounds.
  4. Listening Positions: Move your listening position to what’s appropriate -active/passive or critical/sympathetic. This helps you become conscious of barriers/filters to listening.
  5. RASA: Practice active listening with this acronym that stands for Receive, Appreciate, Summary, Ask.

Erin Wixson, Senior Organizational Consultant

Toss Some Confetti in the Air

Recently, the Student Affairs executive team sent out an email message to the division celebrating ‘A Year of Student Affairs Achievement’! We also received an invitation to our 6th annual Student Affairs Thanks to You Celebration which is scheduled on Friday August 12th, 2016 from 11:30am-2:30pm.  


It’s critical to take time to celebrate our workplace accomplishments—both big and small. Celebration can get easily overlooked as unimportant or unproductive in the face of existing pressures and deadlines, but it is imperative.

Research shows that celebration shapes culture and that celebrating as a group is important because it:

  • bestows a sense of belonging and fulfillment
  • allows us to relax, rewind, and have our stresses fall behind
  • reminds us of the purpose of our work and the power of our relationships
  • improves our productivity, loyalty, motivation, and job satisfaction
  • keeps us happy and energetic
  • reaffirms our belief that we are all one big community
  • helps us forge deeper relationships
  • reinforces desired behaviors

There are many events worth celebrating as well as methods of celebration.

Events to celebrate: completing something the team sacrificed for, achieving a key metric, individual awards, office changes, retirements, project kick-offs, milestones, completions, the beginning of or end of a busy season, an employee, team, and/or organizational achievement, etc.

Methods of celebration: gifts, parties, decorating cubicles, fun games or contests, a traveling trophy, plan a “Friday surprise”, etc.

Here are three things you can start doing today to celebrate successfully:

  1. Brainstorm a list of what you can celebrate with your team
  2. Determine how to celebrate by asking the team what they value
  3. Take the Frequent Recognition and Encouragement (FRE) Manager Self-Assessment from the book ‘Profit from the Positive’ to determine how much you use recognition and encouragement today to help keep your team engaged

Erin Wixson, Senior Organizational Consultant



Need a Daily Dose of Goodness? Practice Gratitude.

In the spirit of recent staff appreciation celebrations, today’s blog post is about gratitude.

What is gratitude? Gratitude is recognition of goodness outside of ourselves that inspires appreciation and  reciprocation. Jeremy Adam Smith, editor of the Greater Good Magazine, in an article titled Six Habits of Highly Grateful People, asserts thatGratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It’s a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings, like clean streets or health or enough food to eat.

How often do we stop, during the workday, to appreciate the goodness around us? On, the question was asked, What are the top 3 reasons someone should attend University of California-Berkeley? The following are just a few of the responses: “the diversity of our campus is incredible,”  “the sense of community and pride that comes with being a golden bear,” “lovely weather,” “the #1 public institution in the world,” “world-renowned university with top faculty, academic departments, and research activities,” “ the incredible food around here,” “it’s filled with awesome, intellectual, interesting people,” “the students, faculty, and all staff work hard to make this institution absolutely wonderful and a home”….and the list goes on. What good things, good moments and/or good people do you appreciate each day at Berkeley?  

Why practice gratitude? Gratitude is good for us! Scientific research points to innumerable benefits of practicing gratitude. It makes us happier, strengthens our relationships and our emotional status, reduces anxiety and stress, improves social ties, increases our sense of self worth, makes us more resilient through hard times, etc.



So how do we do it? Some of us are better than others at gratitude – but it’s good for all of us. We must practice to reap the benefits.  It is easy to find ourselves stuck in moments, at work, where it is hard to see the good, the possible. This is when we need gratitude the most to lessen anxiety and open us up to new possibilities.

Here are three things we can start doing today to practice gratitude:

  1. Over the next few days, make a mental note of grateful moments. This makes the moments more meaningful and prompts us to look for more.
  2. Express thankfulness for the hard stuff. Think about what the challenges have taught you. What can you be grateful for? What do you now know about yourself?  How have the hardships served you?
  3. Focus your gratitude on people at work for whom you are thankful and include them directly into your expression of gratitude.

By Erin Wixson, Senior Organizational Consultant

Focusing on Our Local Community to GO BIG

The GO BIG movement and efforts to create a great workplace for all staff in Student Affairs have been a part of our culture for the past 2+ years. Throughout this process, we have been intentional to practice our engagement principles to widen the circle, create communities of action, connect people to each other, and promote fairness. In order to know what was needed for SA staff to have pride in the work they do, trust the people they work with, and feel a sense of community, it was necessary to bring a collective perspective and discover our shared values of communication, honesty/integrity and respect. We are proud of the work and efforts done thus far. These conversations, interactions, and practices have grounded us and provided a north star, even during the challenging times.


Moving forward, we are “going local” within our various Student Affairs teams and communities by partnering with leaders and managers in individual units. Student Affairs Learning & Development, with support from the GO BIG Staff Initiative team, will help and consult with in tact work teams to create effective actions for staff based on needs, as well as apply our shared SA values and aspirational goals specific to their work environment.

Checking in on Our Communities

On Friday, May 13, we hosted a Community Check-In with colleagues from across Student Affairs. Folks came together in a facilitated safe space to share their concerns about the impact our current budget situation has on our division, and ways to work together.

We know that individual teams and communities have varying experiences in the workplace. L&D and the GO BIG team want to continue to support and meet the needs of our managers and staff; we invite you to reach out to us.

Here are a couple of things that you can do starting today to focus in on your local SA community:

  • If you are a manager or supervisor, ask your staff how the team can continue to practice our values of communication, honesty/integrity, and/or respect in the daily practice of how to successfully get work done. For example, how can we improve communication to gain clarity of tasks and roles? How do we treat colleagues with respect on collaborative projects? How do you best practice honest conversations, while still maintaining positive relationships with one another?