It's the Manager!

Our HR team is committed to supporting our supervisors and managers in their personal and professional development.  We know the value a great leader brings to the institution and those they lead. Each quarter we will share themed content, tips and resources to use on your path to being the best manager, supervisor, influencer, employee coach, and leader you can be.

70 %

Managers influence at least 70% of employee engagement.

"On the whole, employees say that the quality of their manager is more important than their compensation." - Gallup

Recognize Your Staff!

Email us or fill out this short form to "High Five" a peer, colleague, supervisor, direct report, leader or other UI staff, for the positive impact they make in your life or department. Big or small, we'll share your note of thanks and recognition monthly and keep a running list so we can look back at the end of this year.

All recipients receive a special certificate with the submission info and note of thanks.  Check out some highlights from the High Five's received thus far on our Rewards and Recognition page.

High Fives are shared monthly and are for ALL our org 02 & 35 supervisors and staff! 

Q3 TOPIC: Difficult Conversations at Work

3rd Quarter Content


“In today’s politically charged atmosphere, managers must be prepared to enforce their companies’ policies on workplace interactions—and hold employees responsible for maintaining them.” (Dana Wilkie, freelance writer) Political and other conversations are often difficult for people leaders and the approach and outcome are some of the most critical to employee satisfaction and fostering a sense of belonging.

Psychological safety in the workplace, especially with you direct supervisor, is important to the human experience. With the start of the academic year and the many things you likely are juggling, this quarter’s supervisor content is geared towards preparation for difficult conversations and navigating the workplace minefield, including in a hybrid or remote team setting.


SHRM research indicates that employees who work fully in person are more likely to say they’ve experienced political disagreements in the workplace (50 percent) than hybrid workers (36 percent) and fully remote workers (39 percent). Opining on political issues from behind a computer screen may nevertheless embolden some employees to be more hostile or insulting than they would with coworkers they’ll see in person the next day. “Employees who know they don't have to face a coworker with whom they disagree may feel more empowered to make an inflammatory statement,” says Kelly Bunting, shareholder with Greenberg Traurig LLP in Philadelphia.

Three Proactive Steps Managers Can Take, especially in charged times:

    • The answer is not to just separate employees or ask them to completely refrain from conflicting discussion topics. 
    • Familiarize yourself with protected speech (see First Amendment training in ICON). Discriminatory, harassing language, nor violence are protected.

“Discipline employees who violate policy offsite in the same manner that you would discipline employees who violate policy onsite.” —Kelly Bunting

    • "Workplace experts say a manager’s duty is to intervene as soon as respectful disagreements change in tone."
    • Focusing strictly on the behavior that violates company policy, rather than on the individuals involved, to put the conflicting nature of the discord aside and stay neutral/objective. 
    • Consider 1:1 coaching with a neutral third party to help employees use empathy and understand their coworkers.
    • Modeling and regular discussion, addressing issues quickly when they arise, help prevent employees from continuing disruptive behavior and feel supported when dealing with conflicts in the workplace.

Check out this short video with advice from leadership coach, Anne Koopman, on navigating difficult conversations at work. 

And the key to effective communication is often psychological safety in the workplace. There are no guarantees to make this happen however, Anne Grady a resilience expert, shares some of her tried-and-true steps to improve the tough conversations. Most, like step one above, it rooted in preparation.

  1. Check your emotional temperature.  
    • How do you want to show up?
  2. Define the problem.
    • Be specific and use examples (only as much are necessary to illustrate the issue). 
  3. Describe the impact.
    • Put the situation into perspective with how it affects the larger picture and those around us.
  4. Let them vent.
    • Invite the person to respond. "Help me understand..." "I'm wondering what's going on..." Be quiet during this time.
  5. Agree on the problem.
    • Is the issue you brought up the root, or have you determined something else through discussion? Get aligned.
  6. Brainstorm solutions and come to an agreement.
    • Listen, avoid criticism, let them feel heard. Ensure they are part of the solution. Focus on the future.
  7. Follow-through.
    • You don't want to have the same conversation again. People repeat behavior that gets attention to be sure to recognize when they do something right.

Remote? Onsite? Hybrid?

Two years after the start of the pandemic, more employees prefer to work hybrid than remote, research shows. Read more here!

7 Ways to Reduce Friction Between Remote and Onsite Employees

  1. Identify the Cause of the Friction
  2. Be Transparent
  3. Define What Flexibility Means
  4. Rethink What Roles Can Be Performed Remotely
  5. Address Distance Bias
  6. Build Trust
Read more about friction here, or download the article.

(Recently archived Supervisor/Manager HR pages: May '23, Jan '23, Dec '22Nov '22, Oct '22Sept '22July '22June '22May '22. Email for older page archives.)

How to Be a Better Human series


Working, Learning and Leading Remotely

Resources for employees, supervisors and leaders to effectively and efficiently work with hybrid and remote teams.


As we move to more hybrid work schedules (partially remote) below are some tips and help for supervisors and depts. These considerations are to guide you as you determine the people and positions that are suited for remote work and how to refresh and update your supervision and group work structures.  There is content for professional and student staff as well as the link to the flexible work agreement form, for those who are requesting ongoing remote schedule, work or location agreements. 

The ICON course: Leading Remote/Hybrid Teams (#WCVD02) training required for current supervisors has some excellent tips, resources, advice and requirements.

*CHECK OUT THE updated UI resource page: Working, Learning and Leading Remotely.

*For Enhanced/Promoting Employee Engagement - Try the platform 15Five

  • The HR team has tested it out and found that the free version offers a user-friendly weekly check-in that asks key questions for keeping staff engaged and motivated, shares that with their supervisor, and promotes further engagement with features like teams, survey options and virtual "high fives" to recognize teammates.  (Emily has an account and can add you easily - reach out to learn more!)

  • LinkedIn Learning courses: Managing Virtual TeamsLeading at a Distance, Learning Path for Remote Working: Setting Yourself and Your Team up for Success.

Remote Work Considerations and Tips.pdf

Tips for Supervising Students Remotely .pdf

Flexible Work Agreement form - employees should fill this out if they are remaining remote when they could/are asked to return to campus or will have an ongoing flexible arrangement (i.e. hours, duties, location) outside of what the pandemic is currently dictating for depts. 

Understanding and Managing Remote Workers - GALLUP RESOURCES

Referenced Resources from ICON Supervisor Training

Resolving Coworker Conflict of Coping with COVID

UI Resources and Programs

Leadership Development is an ongoing effort at the University of Iowa and in our Orgs.  The UI Organizational Effectiveness and Learning and Development teams are hard at work creating, updating and enhancing many training and development opportunities for leaders at all levels and supervisors, current and prospective.  Check out the links below.

Leadership Development

Leadership Competency Framework

Supervisor Training@Iowa

Supervisor Toolbox

Supervisor Guide to Onboarding


Your Org HR Team

Many of you are familiar with Clifton Strengths and the philosophy of positive psychology.  In May 2019, Gallup launched the new book IT'S THE MANAGER by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter, packed with 52 discoveries from Gallup's largest study on the future of work.  Your HR team is hard at work tailoring a workshop for supervisors to walk through and learn to apply the strengths-based philosophy to your regular supervisory and coaching strategies.  Feel free to reach out with thoughts or preferences on what this might look like and we'll be in touch when we've got a draft/plan to share!

External Development/Training Opportunities

  • Individual and Team Performance (ITP) Metrics Lab - Free team assessments to help you learn about each other and improve or enhance your teamwork!  Area to assess include leadership, peer feedback, team dynamics, conflict style, and personality.  These activities and following discussion can be a great teambuilder.

  • People Manager Qualification Program from  Designed to help supervisors develop skills for successfully managing teams, Elle - a virtual character in the program, will help you through an interactive, gamified and edutainment focused virtual learning experience to build solid people and team leadership skills. 

  • Tune into the recent Gallup webcast on Building Resilience: How Managers Lead Post-Crisis Performance, focused on employee engagement. 

  • Boss to Coach One - Virtual Training from Gallup to accelerate performance through conversations and coaching.

  • Check out Reality-Based Leadership, a philosophy developed by Cy Wakeman, self-proclaimed drama researcher and renowned speaker. Her research has shown that the average employee spends nearly 2.5 hours per day in drama and she made it her mission to support today's leadership on a mission to reduce drama and increase employee accountability.  These changes, in turn, increase productivity, employee engagement and satisfaction.  

  • For Leaders: Lead in Uncertainty and CrisisA new 2 hour webinar for leaders.