Connections Coffee Break for Supervisors

An important factor in keeping employees highly engaged in their work is a positive relationship with their supervisor. Connections Coffee Break offers an opportunity to engage supervisors in a conversation with one another to support thoughtful solutions, generate innovative ideas, and help the university to consistently recognize and value employees in both large and small ways at all levels of the organization.

UO supervisors are invited to a virtual coffee break to connect with other supervisors, talk about your successes and challenges, and share thoughts about what might help support you in your working life. The sessions are hosted by UO colleagues who will be there to listen and to offer suggestions for related resources available to supervisors.

View the current schedule for upcoming session and register in MyTrack.

Register for a Coffee Break Session

Ah-ha Moments from Coffee Break Sessions

Keeping your team engaged and connected

Connection is especially important for remote staff in particular during these times of uncertainty. And communication is key to staying connected and completing work effectively.

  • Making the effort to “re-learn” your employees in a new environment. People may need something different in a new kind of space and way of working. Ask questions about how working is working.
    What do you like about working from home?
    What is a challenge?
    What have you put in place and/or what do you need to help manage your work?
  • Using MS Teams/Zoom to connect, quick phone calls, regular 1:1 meeting with employee and supervisor. Balance your routines with new ideas, some teams will tolerate more change than others. Be mindful of the team style and your own style.
  • Be flexible and compassionate regarding ways of working and pair this with clear expectations for the work that needs to be done. Stay open to flexible schedules and approaches, while making sure to discuss and understand in order to ensure employee and supervisor are on the same page.
  • Be compassionate toward yourself as a supervisor
    Work is more than meetings, give yourself time to plan and consider your actions.
    Take breaks and rest making sure you would do what you recommend to colleagues and those you supervise.
  • Gather informally and enjoy being together – arrange tea time, the virtual baby shower, zoom bingo, meeting warm-ups, spirit or theme weeks, celebrate professional rites of passage such as retirement.
    Think about preparation and structure, tap into the creativity of the team for focus activities so people are not in a virtual room unclear about how to interact.

Leveraging technology for connection

  • Zoom meetings – as you would with an in-person meeting, have an agenda, make sure meeting expectations are clear. Zoom forces taking turns – a plus.
    • Use brief warm-ups to get people talking taking turns.
    • Use breakout rooms for smaller group conversations as needed.
    • Pair breakouts with google Jamboards for sharing ideas
    • Experiment with the non-verbal aspects of the Zoom meeting, thumbs-up, polling and chat.
  • Use available digital tools for sharing work.
    Trello and MS planner to help teams work together. These tools can help to ensure work isn’t duplicated; shared tasks are completed.

Parenting while working from home

The advantage of working from home is that children have a more complete view of the work of their parents. The value, variety and purpose of work is directly communicated. Work, and its significance, are integrated with family. This is a benefit that brings challenges.

  • Set-up zoom opportunities for parents to discuss ideas and strategies and ideas.
    Supervisors can empower and support their parenting employees by helping to set-up a session and enabling parents to share expertise. Even if you are not currently caring for someone else at home, as a supervisor, you can empathize and support.
  • In a meeting? Working on something that requires uninterrupted concentration? Not always easy.
    • Empower yourself to schedule time to focus – you are working (quite significantly) even when not in a meeting.
    • The door sign – help your children figure out if they really need to interrupt. A sign with questions they can ask themselves and tear off tabs/tickets to interrupt may help.
    • Keep trying new approaches. Somethings work for awhile and then they don’t. Be patient with yourself.