General Topics
Best Practices

Best Practices: Commitment and Vision Renewed

In a full-day retreat on May 4 in the President's Room in Woolsey Hall, leaders of the Best Practices Initiative completed a pivotal reexamination of the future as envisioned under the labor-management partnership. After quickly reaffirming the original partnership vision that was outlined in a strategic plan last September, the leaders participated in frank and productive discussions about a number of process and implementation issues.

“You now have a ‘brand’ for this new process and we know what is needed to make this initiative successful,” explained Tom Schneider, CEO of Restructuring Associates, Inc., who facilitated the retreat with his colleague, Scott Adams.

Present at the retreat were members of the Best Practices Policy Board, the Initiative Steering Committee, and the director of Best Practices. John Pepper’s role on the Policy Board has been taken on by both Shauna King, vice president for Finance and Administration, and Bruce Alexander, vice president for Facilities and New Haven Affairs. As a result of the day's discussions, the Policy Board agreed to continue to fully support the Best Practices Initiative as the central operational strategy for fully engaging staff members to achieve increased productivity, operational quality, improved service, and on-the-job satisfaction.

The strategy is aligned with an assessment by Restructuring Associates, during the last round of collective bargaining negotiations, that envisioned Best Practices "as an exceptional opportunity not only to establish a less-contentious labor relationship, but also to create a results-oriented partnership that yields measurable improvements to both parties and to the New Haven community.”

The Policy Board also approved a plan, developed by the Best Practices Training and Education Committee, to build the internal capacity to train and facilitate a number of additional Joint Departmental Committees (JDC) during the next fiscal year by hiring two Yale employees to serve as facilitators for the Committees. These internal facilitators, working with Best Practices Director Paula Wilson, will go through an apprenticeship under Restructuring Associates to obtain hands-on experience and classroom training. Progress reports from the first Joint Departmental Committees will be shared this summer and the experience and lessons learned from these initial efforts will help shape new Committees going forward.

Several key themes and lessons emerged from the retreat:

Every Joint Departmental Committee must have a clear scope that includes jointly setting specific, concrete goals, targets and measures. To be successful, they must achieve documented, significant improvements and meaningful outcomes.

Sponsorship both from the leaders within the departments and from the Best Practices leadership is critical to the success of the Joint Departmental Committees.

Consistent support and facilitation of these Committees are necessary to provide direction and identify and eliminate barriers to success.

Training is required for every Committee.

By working together on tangible goals, sharing information and ideas, and solving problems openly and jointly, a deep trust and partnership will develop. These Committees will serve as models for a new partnership throughout the University, so that a cooperative approach to working together becomes a natural part of Yale’s culture.