Staff Embark On Yearlong Supervisor Class

Duke's 'First Time Supervisor' program begins for 20 staff members

Members of Duke's fourth 'First Time Supervisor' program gather for the opening ceremony at the Nasher Museum of Art. Photo by Duke Photography.
Members of Duke's fourth 'First Time Supervisor' program gather for the opening ceremony at the Nasher Museum of Art. Photo by Duke Photography.

Two years ago, when Mickey Johnson started Duke's First Time Supervisor class, she was crunching numbers as a financial analyst. Now she supervises a dozen employees at Duke's Patient Revenue Management Organization. 

This week, she offered congratulations and encouragement to 20 Duke University and Duke University Health System staff members participating in this year's First Time Supervisor program.

"This class will make a huge difference in your professional career," she said March 5 during the opening ceremony.  "I wouldn't be in the position I have today if I hadn't learned how to build a team through this class."

The First Time Supervisor Program, which is offered by Duke's Professional Development Institute in Human Resources, supports high potential employees who aspire to move into supervisory positions. Over the course of a year, participants receive coaching and mentoring sessions to identify their strengths and weaknesses. They attend classroom learning on topics such as communication, project and budget management and managing difficult work relationships, all at no charge. In return for Duke's investment in their education, participants commit to staying at Duke for at least two years after the completion of the program.

Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration, said teaching supervisory skills promotes growth for the individual and institution.  

"There is a high correlation between job satisfaction and productivity, and a direct line of sight between having competent supervisors and satisfied employees," he told the class. "We hope the skills you learn here will benefit you and Duke for many years."

Participants in this year's class - the fourth since the program began in 2006 - were selected from a pool of 45 employees nominated by their supervisors. Supervisors support participants by finding a mentor, releasing the participant from work for training time and assisting in creating stretch assignments on the job.

Johnson, who spoke during the opening ceremony, nominated a member of her staff, Donna McCombs. McCombs is a revenue cycle specialist at the Patient Revenue Management Organization.

"Being selected was an affirmation that my 10 years of hard work at Duke has been worth it," McCombs said. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to be with classmates who are going to be willing to stretch out of their comfort zones along with me."

Johnson said she nominated McCombs because she wanted to share the positive experience she had when she took the class in 2010.

"When you benefit from a program like this at Duke, you just have to pass the torch," Johnson said. "And Donna cares about the team, so I know she'll make a great supervisor."