The 2nd Annual Office of the Registrar Retreat was held on June 27, 2014, as part of the Staff Success initiative started by Dr. Joe DeCristoforo, University Registrar. With the office closed for the day, the staff decamped to the HEB University Center where we participated in activities ranging from critical thinking and team building skills to healthy office attitudes and mental relaxation.
Capping a Year of Staff Development Work
This year's team leaders for our Staff Success Initiative were Reuben Aleman,
Juan Cantu, Wendy Foster, Flor Hernandez, and Ana Rodriguez. The Retreat serves as the capstone activity to the year’s monthly Staff Success activities.
The theme for this year’s Staff Success Initiative was: “Positive Reinforcement: focusing on how to make your work days and personal lives more positive by making small changes in your attitude, work processes, and daily interactions.” Throughout the year, we combined readings from “How Full is Your Bucket?” by Tom Rath, with TED talks and NPR segments to spur discussions in each of our small group meetings.
Integrating the Four C's
So, when we designed our retreat capstone, we wanted to integrate our Staff Success Initiative with the 4C’s. Here’s what we did:
- We enjoyed Connecting with one another through a game called Snowball, where each person has a fun fact about a mystery coworker and has a set amount of time to interview coworkers to reveal the identity of the mystery coworker.
- We had fun Collaborating using a Name that Baby activity, where photos of fellow staff members flashed on the screen and groups worked together to figure out who that staff member was – lots of great laughs with this one!
- We practiced Communicating with Rowdy Ropes: groups of staff were given different shapes to create with one large rope. Things really got interesting when the shapes became more complicated, and the staff were given new rules like not letting go of the rope, creating a shape without talking, even creating shapes with their eyes closed.
- We were Creating throughout the day, including a Drops activity where staff created drops (kudos) about fellow staff members to fill buckets placed in the center of the tables (a la Tom Rath’s book).
Collaborating with Other UTSA Departments
We also were treated to awesome guest speakers who offered a nice transition between our many activities:
- Gaby O’Dell (Counseling Services) demonstrated simple meditation methods that can be used to clear our minds and be more productive.
- Kristee Phelps shared office exercises that can be done “anywhere, anytime” to help us stay sharp throughout the work day.
- Sam Gonzales participated in a Q&A about Staff Success and rising to challenges, and then presenting the 2014-2015 Registrar Office Merit Award to Melissa Rodriguez.
Staff feedback on the retreat was overwhelmingly positive, and included comments like:
- What I enjoyed most was the team building and interaction.
- I learned how important staff success is for our line of work and how to be more positive.
- The ropes made me realize how communication is key especially when given barriers.
Comments from our Staff Success Leaders included:
- Flor Hernandez: "Being a Staff Success leader helped me grow as part of a team, and all the discussions my team and I shared brought us closer together and made me feel lucky to be a part of the Office of the Registrar."
- Juan Cantu: "'Lollipop moments.' Our Retreat was just that - those moments that change lives when we're not even paying attention. Our retreat focused on having fun and provided a positive experience, I want to say we did that based on all the feedback we got from our coworkers. We created an atmosphere where we used the tools from the book and TED talks to allow the positive feedback in our individual working areas.
- Ana Rodriguez: "I’ve seen such an improvement in how our office works together, one that I have not witnessed in any other office that I worked for. I am so lucky to have been a part of making our office more successful. Staff Success has given everyone opportunities to voice themselves, open up as individuals, and become leaders. The retreat is just icing on the cake! This is an opportunity every staff members should have in every office.
Staff Success Initiative: A New Tradition?
Even though our Staff Success Initiative is in its early years, both management and staff have seen an improvement in office relations and morale, which in turn helps us better serve the UTSA student community. We believe that staff success leads to student success, and the Office of the Registrar takes on that commitment with our motto “One office. One mission. Student success.”.
Submitted by —
Athletic Certification Specialist II,
Office of the Registrar