Teams & Issues: Faculty-Staff Communication Team

Note: This team is no longer active. The information below is available to document the history of service VOICES members have provided to the university community.

Faculty-Staff Communication Team


The VOICES of the Staff network for Faculty and Staff Communication will explore ideas for enhancing communication among faculty and staff and across all layers of staff, in order to provide the best possible support for the University’s mission of research, teaching, service, and patient care.


  • Define significant existing communication gaps
  • Draw on best practices here and elsewhere, and on U-M faculty research, to propose ways to fill those gaps
  • Enhance staff understanding of the University and its missions.
  • Extend the concept of "high-quality connections" (based on the research of Ross Business School Professor Jane Dutton) as a significant tool for enhancing campus communication


  • Received funding to develop materials on building better relationships among faculty and staff, and between supervisors and their staff, using research from the Ross School’s Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship; in particular, Professor Jane Dutton’s concept of energy-enhancing "high-quality connections." Materials will include: slide & video presentations, workshops, a workbook, and so on. The PowerPoint presentation with video clips is available now, and can be tailored to a particular unit’s needs.
  • Received funding to develop a video for New Employee Orientation, introducing staff to the mission and culture of this "premier public research University." The video is now in production, with collaboration from the Office of the Vice President for Research. When complete it will be made available through this website. A design team including both VOICES members and other staff is carrying this project forward, experimenting with the Portfolio process.
  • Inspired the first local spin-off organization, FAST Connections (Faculty/Staff Relationships Task Force) at the Ross School of Business. FAST Connections is identifying ways to improve the partnership between faculty and staff in order to enhance overall school effectiveness. By participating in various work, recreation, charity and learning opportunities together, faculty and staff come to appreciate the contributions each can make, building trust and leading to more satisfying accomplishments. For information, see:
  • Conducted a pilot Integrative Portfolio session, involving several staff members over several weeks in experimenting with the Portfolio technique to gather and transfer extensive staff knowledge. Team alumna Karen Dickinson is carrying this project forward, working with other VOICES alumni.
  • Developed a template for an on-line resource for faculty members (such as lab directors) who supervise staff, to provide instant easy access to both procedural issues and to information about effective communication for supervisors.

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Work in Progress

  • The Faculty-Staff Communications Team is actively engaged in applying Professor Jane Dutton's ground-breaking work on Building High-Quality Connections (HQC's) in the workplace. For more information on HQC's, click here. For additional information, email the HQC group at
  • A sub-team of current team members will use focus groups to explore effective teaching styles for different kinds of audiences, and plans to conduct pilot sessions in 2008.
  • Creating additional channels of communication between faculty and staff. Another current sub-team is approaching several of the schools and colleges independently, to learn
    • How staff participation is encouraged in the life of a unit.
    • What methods units have for promoting both staff and faculty achievements and recognition.
  • Providing new information and up-dates to longer-term staff via an online newsletter, to help them re-engage with the U and its work. This sub-team calls itself "OEO," for "Old Employee Orientation!"


Recommended Reading and Viewing...

  • Energize Your Workplace, written by our faculty partner, Professor Jane Dutton introduces the idea of "high-quality connections," showing how our daily interactions affect not only our mood but also our physical health, energy levels, and effectiveness. The book has inspired much of the work this team has done. Here are details:

    • Energize Your Workplace: How to Create and Sustain High-Quality Connections at Work(Jossey-Bass, 2003) Corrosive work relationships are like black holes, swallowing up the energy we need to do our jobs. In contrast, high-quality relationships generate and sustain energy, equipping people to do work and do it well. Author Jane Dutton provides three pathways for turning negative connections into positive ones that create and sustain resilience and flexibility, facilitate the speed and quality of learning, and build individual commitment. Energize Your Workplace offers each of us the resources we need to build high-quality connections in the workplace.

  • Trust is everything. Michigan Ph.D. alum Aneil Mishra, Associate Professor of Management at Wake Forest University, recently gave a presentation to over 45 VOICES members on his new book, Trust Is Everything: Become the Leader Others Will Follow.  His presentation offered a wealth of helpful tips that we can all take back to our workplace. Click here to view the video.

Other U-M websites helpful in enhancing workplace communication and respect

Team member insights

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Network Team Members

Team photo of the VOICES Faculty and Staff Communication Team

Seated (from left): Ann Larimore, Mary Ceccanese, Mary Cardwell, Joanne Williams;
standing: Vanessa Humenay-Klaver, Melissa Eljamal, Colleen Root, Bruce Skinner, Amy Flint, Melissa Crawford, Tracey Darnell.

Team Members


Mary Ceccanese, Facilitator

Ross School of Business

Mary Cardwell, Facilitator


Melissa Crawford

Briarwood Family Medicine

Tracy Darnell

College of LS&A

Melissa Eljamal

College of LS&A

Amy Flint

Chelsea Family Practice

Linda Hart


Vanessa Humenay-Klaver

Hospital Entrance Services

Doritta McDaniel

Flint School of Management

Rick Risner

Hospital Plant Mechanical Systems

Coleen Root

Rackham Graduate School

Bruce Skinner

Internal Medicine

Ingrid Williams

Anesthesiology Pre-Op Clinic

Joanne Williams

Howell Pediatrics

Michael Winslow

General Medicine

Katherine Wood

Graham Institute

Faculty Partners

Jane Dutton, Ph.D.

Professor, Management and Organizations, Ross School of Business

Ann Larimore, Ph.D.

Professor, Emerita of Geography and Women's Studies, College of LS&A



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