Culture change group seeks input on university values

February 24, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

Faculty and staff are invited to share input in the university’s initiative to improve culture and create a set of shared values. President Mary Sue Coleman shared information about the coming engagement during the Feb. 17 board of regents meeting.

A poll will collect information about values important to the university community, while focus groups and a community assembly planned later this spring will allow employees the chance for deeper participation. The poll will remain open through March 25.

“All of us deserve to learn, work and live in a supportive environment — and to take part in creating the values that define us,” said Coleman. “I encourage everyone to join in these vital efforts and our overall work to better our culture.”

This work is being led by the Culture Change Values Identification Working Group. The group was created last summer as part of the university’s work to create a set of unifying, shared values and set a lasting high standard for campus behaviors, systems and practices.

The working group is co-chaired by Patricia Hurn, dean of the School of Nursing, and Sonya Jacobs, chief organizational learning officer and senior director for faculty and leadership development at Michigan Medicine. Working group membership includes individuals from across the institution in various roles, and includes faculty, staff and student perspectives.

The current scope of the working group is to focus on the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine. Separate work is underway on the Dearborn and Flint campuses to address campus-specific priorities and evaluate where they are in the culture journey.

Information about the initiative is found on a new website, culturejourney.umich.edu.

Culture change starts with values

Currently, there is no single articulated set of shared values for the university, although many schools, colleges and units have adopted their own value statements.

The working group is charged with developing recommendations for shared values that will serve as the universitywide foundation for broader culture change.

“Values are fundamental beliefs that guide our behaviors and decision making,” said Jacobs.

“Behaviors are values in action. When our values are reflected in everything we do–how we recruit, hire, promote, measure performance, hold people accountable–we create and reinforce the culture we want to see,” added Jacobs.

Ways to engage in the process

Faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine will receive an email inviting them to participate in the poll. While the current project is focused on the Ann Arbor campus and Michigan Medicine, all employees are welcome to participate in the poll.

Responses will be confidential. Authentication with a U-M login is required to limit participation to those within the U-M community and one submission per individual.

Feedback collected from the poll will help inform a series of focus groups in March, leading up to a community assembly event in April.

“The working group is one part of the university’s effort to restore trust, support healing, and build an environment of safety, respect and accountability,” said Hurn. “For us to be effective, we need to hear from faculty and staff in our community who care deeply for our mission and for one another.”

Following the engagement and data collection phases, the committee will analyze evidence on the gaps between U-M’s stated values and lived experience. It will make recommendations to the president and executive officers this summer.

Organizational Learning has information about courses and educational resources around culture change on its website. A new offering, Culture Change Foundations: Improving Workplace Climate, guides learners on the first step in embarking on a culture change journey. The course helps define culture and climate, explores eight levers to affect climate and reviews a model to create lasting culture change. The next session is scheduled for March 24.

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