Tracking Accomplishments: School of Medicine

The time is rapidly approaching when the whole of the Health System will deploy the annual employee engagement survey. However, before we put pen to paper and grade ourselves, let’s look back to see what we did to make the School of Medicine and Health System a better place for you and your colleagues.

At the School-level, Dean Dunlap focused her efforts on:

  • Improving communication;
  • Being accesible and visible to SOM employees; and
  • Improving morale and support for employees, faculty and staff

To ensure improvements in these areas, Dean Dunlap:

  • Initiated a School-wide Academic Strategic Planning process to clarify our direction, help us set achievable and measurable goals, and create a better balance for our research and education missions. The ASP is comprised of:
    • Mission Teams: Academic Clinical Practice, Education, and Research
    • Tactical Work Groups: academic efficiency, communications/leadership, community, faculty development, IT, legislative/government relations, partnerships, philanthropy, and reputation
  • Created weekly messages to the entire School of Medicine (posted and archived on UVA Connect)
  • Implemented townhall-style meetings
  • Added a third State of the School meeting to the cycle
  • Disseminated key messages from the Chairs’ meetings to Basic Science and Clinical faculty
  • Extended invitations to Uteam meetings
  • Attended numerous departmental staff and administrators meetings

In addition, as part of our Strategic Planning, Dean Dunlap has asked, “What can you stop doing?” with the belief that the elimination of non-value-added work is one way that we can increase morale. Most importantly, Dean Dunlap is empowering everyone at the School of Medicine: If you see something, fix it. Don’t wait. Act now.

Tracking Accomplishments: Departments & Teams

The activities below highlight some of the best practice ideas implemented across the School of Medicine over the past year. They are listed by Q12 item.

Q01. I know what is expected of me at work

  • Link individual goals to institutional strategy
  • Re-organize/re-structure job roles to clarify team focus
  • Redefine roles/review job description with employees
  • Create “manual” for each role to assist when coverage is needed
  • Hold face to face meetings to clarify mutual expectations
  • Ask employees, “tell me a couple of things you do that aren’t on your job description” to better understand their role
  • Set clear priorities


Q02. I have the materials and equipment to do my job right

  • Assess department needs/gaps
  • Replace/repair equipment
  • Discuss safety at workplace issues at coffee hour
  • Hold town hall meeting to ask about management needs


Q03. At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

  • Create “Newsletter” to announce and highlight accomplishments/strengths of individuals
  • Share publications/grants etc.  at monthly meetings
  • Have broader inclusion of staff in departmental reorganization (iterative info gathering for planning meetings)


Q04. In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work

  • Have ice cream social for support staff served by faculty
  • Create “Kudos” Board to recognize anyone anytime
  • Make thank you cards available to all supervisor / staff
  • Create recognition “bowl” into which co-workers drop notes acknowledging great works or acts of kindness
  • Create Departmental e-mail newsletter sharing accomplishments
  • Isolate the problem, faculty-staff interaction,  and made a plan for improvement
  • Create newsletter, employee of the month, yearly awards
  • Distribute list of accomplishments every two months (faculty & staff)
  • Continued compliments for daily/weekly accomplishments
  • End all individual meetings with expressions of gratitude and praise
  • Have recognition activities at staff meetings


Q05. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person

  • Hold monthly coffee hour for everyone to attend. Includes open discussion & presentation of topics of general concern.
  • Invite senior leadership to staff meetings to build relationships
  • Have quarterly lunches for birthdays
  • Hold open forum lunches: administrator and front line staff (no supervisors) can discuss any issues
  • Have more staff meetings and birthday luncheons
  • Initiate meetings between different groups in a large department-tell them what you do every day
  • Celebrate birthdays, baby showers, and other personal achievements at team meetings


Q06. There is someone at work who encourages my development

  • Offer intentional continuing education for individuals
  • Have group training sessions at least quarterly
  • Have more discussions of learning opportunities available to staff; help arrange coverage to attend
  • Provide funds for professional development such as meetings and conferences
  • Encourage people to attend leadership courses
  • Encourage people to take time to engage in professional development opportunities
  • Develop a Faculty Development Program
  • Allow time for staff development and ensure adequate work coverage
  • Share development opportunities at staff meetings


Q07. At work my opinions seem to count

  • Make sure that staff and faculty meetings include time for open forum to discuss any issues from the floor
  • Implement staff/faculty suggestions for ways to improve engagement (beautification of area)
  • Ask staff how they would like to be reorganized
  • Made email box for suggestions
  • Involve staff in new hires
  • Ask employees for input re: divisional needs
  • Have “shout out” opportunities at weekly staff meeting
  • Have structured meetings to provide opportunity for input
  • Leaders attend meeting to increase information going in both directions
  • Get staff to share best practices and efficient methods with each other
  • Management by walking around
  • Take time to ask all staff for suggestions/opinions
  • Have monthly/quarterly meetings with all groups to ask for input


Q08. The mission or purpose of the organization makes me feel my job is important

  • Link individual goals to institutional goals/strategy
  • Involve faculty/staff in community service projects to align them with missions
  • Stress mission/value statements regularly
  • Share department strategy and progress at quarterly staff meetings and monthly faculty meetings
  • Post mission statement and value statements
  • Emphasize big picture and our role in UVA HS
  • Clarify our mission and the importance of everyone’s role
  • Discuss vision/mission with all groups- asked for their input during design
  • Develop ways for staff to interact with our patients
  • Have lunches where the scientist’s explain their work to the administrators


Q09. My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

  • Applying for ACR accreditation-a measure of highest quality in our field-involves every group in department
  • Share quality/compliance “scores” as a group and encourage team to address issues as a team
  • Re-organize administrative assistants/support staff into team-based model with cross training
  • Perform weekly/monthly quality reviews and provide feedback
  • Hold low performing employees accountable
  • Improve communication throughout the department whenever we have a new faculty or staff person joining us. Developed detailed checklist of Orientation and Onboarding.


Q10. I have a best friend at work

  • Started Book Club and Music club so those with like interests could meet, form friendships.
  • Offer team gathering “outside” work at least monthly to provide time for sharing/team building/bonding. Dinner, yoga, concert, hikes, etc.
  • Plan is in progress for departmental  “day of service”
  • Redefine “best friend” as someone trusted/reliable
  • Work with staff to I.D. trusted partner to serve as best friend “equivalent”
  • Established softball team


Q11. In the last six months, someone has talked to me about my progress

  • Emphasize importance of interim evaluations with supervisors
  • Offer more informal feedback sessions with “open door” policy
  • Provide quarterly awards for employees, acknowledging good work
  • Create opportunities to discuss successes and challenges with SOM leadership


Q12. This last year, I have had the opportunity at work to learn and grow

  • Create small groups that teach leadership principles.
  • Offer quarterly staff development workshops during work day (with lunch)
  • Create Leadership Habits- Book Club
  • Invite speakers for departmental- staff training.
  • Cross train among similar offices with varying operational duties
  • Bring in continuing education opportunities for staff


Improve Work Environment

  • Scheduled ergonomic evaluations for each staff and implements recommendations
  • Created a “compact” of mutual respect, kindness- code of respect
  • Did clean –up and purchased central foliage plants to “spruce up” space
  • Blogs created for sub groups
  • Monthly lunch assignments to plan- Can be purely social
  • Quarterly staff meetings to discuss how roles fit into the whole
  • Broader inclusion of staff in departmental functions
  • Monthly informational meetings by departmental leadership for staff