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 month we will share themes, tips and resources to use on your path to being the best manager, supervisor, influencer and employee coach 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

Give a High Five!

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.

High Fives monthly and are an option for all org 02 & 35 supervisors and staff! 

Check out some highlights from the High Five's received thus far on our Rewards and Recognition page.


"Out of the gate, it is essential to note that employee engagement is not an activity or even an HR initiative; instead, employee engagement is an outcome. Employee engagement is the beneficial result of managing the four layers of the employee experience." - Decision Wise

The four layers of the employee experience are a helpful model for conceptualizing the pathway to employee engagement. 
  • #1 Base Culture: "Defined simply as "the way things work" at a particular organization...the product of foundational decisions such as mission and purpose, ideologies, or industry type."
  • #2 Strategic Culture: Overseen by senior leaders, this is where choice comes into the experience, where behaviors and answers to questions like "What does it mean to be an employee of this organization?"
  • #3 Employee Experience: The organization's culture through the employee eyes is the layer we're typically most concerned with, where responsibility for this layer is shared among all leaders. 
  • #4 Leader Driven Experience (#LDX): Considered by Decision Wise to be the most important layer, "that key intersection between employee and direct supervisor." Different from the other layers, this has two stewards - senior leaders and frontline or direct leader, accountable for teaching others what it means to be a leader and what's expected of them.
four employee experiences graphic

Under this fourth layer, you as the supervisor and front line to your employees and teams, have three obligations:

  1. Advocate for the organization - ensure no "us vs. them" mentality, build connections and belonging between the org and the employee.
  2. Model good behaviors - know what's expected of you and be the brand in your interactions and leadership with others.
  3. Define your employees' purpose, path and place - ask yourself daily "what experience am I creating right now?" 
Embracing and interweaving the leader driven experience into your daily work will ultimately improve and maintain employee engagement. 


"Empathy is a needed skill in the workplace now more than ever."   - Heidi Lynne Kurter, Senior Contributor, Forbes.


"Today’s workers are holding companies to high standards and standing firm against outdated leadership practices by forcing accountability and change. Some of these antiquated practices include:

  • Ignoring employee feedback and complaints
  • Putting the wrong people in leadership and management positions
  • Tolerating and justifying toxic behaviors from senior-level employees
  • Prioritizing profit, customers and results over morale, and the employee experience"

So, check for yourself - do you fall into any of these?

What managers are doing wrong:

  • Enabling Bad Managers and Tolerating Toxicity.

"When leaders fail to take ownership, they lost the respect of great employees." - Philip Pages, Post Purchase Survey founder.  All too often other leaders will take the manager's word without question, leaving the employee to feel disposable and unfairly treated. "In successful companies, shame and blame don't work as management styles." - Brene Brown, author.

  • Inadvertently Promoting Burnout Culture.

"The pandemic put into perspective what’s important for many people." You can help to prevent burnout by putting employees first and promoting flexibility. Promote self-care practices and model it yourself.

  • Ignoring The Disconnect Between You and the Employee.

"Employees want to be active participants in achieving organizational goals as well as having their voices heard and feedback is taken into consideration." Don't underestimate the value of seeking out input and listening to your employees.

  • Valuing Profit and Customers Over Your Employees.

It speaks volumes when leadership only acknowledge meeting (or not meeting) goals and quotas and ignore the effort and contributions that lead to that result. Leadership sets the tone for the workplace. 


Read more about The Four Layers of the Employee Experience and What Managers are Doing Wrong, HERE or download.


Many areas on campus and companies all around have moved to more flexibility in location and hours. Have you or your employees considered a four-day workweek? From a manager perspective, "the four-day workweek can be a way to offer employees more personal time while holding on to structured, set work hours." 

As Brian Knoff shares in a recent article about this, "A four-day workweek is a lot easier to manage than a lot of the other flexibility ideas that are out there, because even if you change hours to 8:30 to 5:30, Monday through Thursday, or whatever you pick, you're going to be able to e-mail someone or call or message and they should respond pretty quickly. Other flexibility options require a lot more effort on the part of managers to organize, coordinate, figure out who's there and so forth." 

As a manager, you're responsible for outcomes and therefore, while you want to provide flexibility, finding ways to include knowns and some semblance of control is still important. Read more here about the manager perspective on the reduced workweek schedule. 

Also: 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 '22April '22Mar '22Feb '22Jan '22Dec '21Nov '21Oct '21Sept '21Aug '21, July '21June, '21. 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.