Manager of Staff Center for Training and Development
by John Smith - Jan. 12, 2018
Helping students to learn and succeed is clearly stated as a primary goal in Ferris State University’s mission. The work done in classrooms and laboratories to support that notion are, in turn, enabled by a variety of offices and departments across campus. As part of that process, Jody Gardei, the Manager of the Staff Center for Training and Development and her team work in collaboration with these many operations. The center’s goals include fostering lifelong learning among university employees, while promoting effective communication in university offices, departments, and classrooms, along with facilitating development programs for department supervisors and leaders.
Gardei is a formidable example of a lifelong learner, having joined the university’s Information Technology Services staff in 2001, following her honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force. She earned her Master of Science in Career and Technical Education from Ferris, in 2013, a year before accepting her manager’s position with the SCTD.
“The center was proposed as I was completing my CTE studies, so I applied for the manager’s job, and was excited to be selected,” Gardei said. “My previous responsibilities, in IT, helped me get to know people across campus, and I turned to those with the appropriate expertise and abilities as we established ourselves, and began to offer programs.”
Gardei said the center’s work is based on helping staff members and departments to structure their efforts in line with the university’s core value of Learning, through programs like Business Writing for Professionals, providing training that promotes active listening or other team-building activities.
“Helping to facilitate campus initiatives is a big part of the center’s offerings,” Gardei said. “I invest considerable time in research, and actively listen to my contacts, to assess the needs, before developing customized team-building activities, for groups like our Student Affairs supervisors. We offered ‘Question, Persuade, Refer’ training to the staff of the Birkam Health Center, in keeping with a national suicide prevention and awareness campaign. I have turned to Sandy Gholston, in University Advancement and Marketing, and Megan Biller, with Ferris’ Doctorate of Community College Leadership program, tapping into their expertise to offer advice on social media messaging for our departments and university programs.”
Giving university faculty and staff assistance in improving productivity is another focus of the center, according to Gardei.
“There are online resources, such as Lynda.com, Hoonuit, and GCN training, which Ferris employees can access through our website,” Gardei said. “Mastering computer programs like Excel, incorporating video in classroom instruction, and a wide variety of tutorials are available.”
Another important consideration for the center, and its assistance to Ferris employees is to promote training that helps individuals in offices and departments be more efficient in their efforts. Gardei said these programs are very much in line with the core value of Excellence, the striving “to produce the highest quality outcomes.”
“One Note, which allows greater access of information, is a real time-saver,” Gardei said. “Skype for Business, Planner and OneDrive are all resources that can help staff be more productive, and a group meets several times each semester to address what is useful, and assess emerging applications and technology.”
The center also works to assist in promotion of university core values, like Ethical Community and Collaboration, as Gardei said the workplace should be a pleasant and inclusive environment, one that can work through differences of opinion, and other situations.
“Adaptive Schools training, programs in active listening, and those focused on conflict resolution really emphasize treating peers with dignity, and respect,” Gardei said. “I believe all of our staff, as well as our faculty members can benefit, since these skills apply to classroom instruction, and cooperation in an office, or departmental setting.”
Gardei said more than 70 employees have gone through a four-day program focused on creating a collaborative workplace, which also has a follow-up session on polarities management.
“There may be differences that co-workers cannot resolve,” Gardei said. “This training helps them to still find a way forward.”
Helping Ferris staff to develop as campus leaders, and to become supervisors, or improve in that role is another important aspect of Gardei’s duties.
“The center has begun a cycle of offering the Leadership Development Program on an alternate-year basis with the Supervisor Development Program,” Gardei said. “We began an LDP series of events in September, on the university’s Ropes Course. The core, and optional workshops in the SDP program will begin in the 2018 Fall semester. We do make an effort to provide this learning to Ferris-Grand Rapids employees, along with the Kendall College of Art and Design, and the university’s out-state locations.”
Gardei sums up her duties as manager of the SCTD as being a provider of opportunities for Ferris employees, whether they are instructors, staff or administrators.
“We have many resourceful employees, who, when provided the training module or resources they are after, then go ahead and accomplish the learning they had hoped to achieve,” Gardei said. “That is very rewarding, and I hope everyone associated with Ferris understands what our center can provide them, and that we are more than willing to help them in any way possible.”
John Smith is the communications specialist in the News Services and Social Media department of University Advancement and Marketing.
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