19 Graduate from Yearlong Supervisor Program

Family and colleagues celebrate employees' commitment to professional development

Family, friends and colleagues gathered to celebrate the graduation of 19 Duke employees from the First Time Supervisor Program on Dec. 14, 2012. Photo by Duke Photography.

Applause, grins, whistles and whoops of joy greeted 19 Duke employees as they walked across a stage at the Searle Center. The celebration was for the graduates of the First Time Supervisor Program, a yearlong class offered by Duke's Professional Development Institute in Human Resources to support high potential employees who aspire to move into supervisory positions. 

"This is one occasion where we don't ask you to hold your applause," Sally Allison, assistant director of recruitment and manager of Duke's Professional Development Institute, told family members, friends, colleagues and mentors during the ceremony in December. "These graduates have shown a commitment to Duke and to their own development, and they deserve every bit of congratulations we can offer."

Over the course of a year, First Time Supervisor participants receive coaching and mentoring sessions at Duke to identify their strengths and weaknesses. While working their regular jobs, they attend classroom learning on topics such as communication, project and budget management and managing difficult work relationships, all at no charge. 

Matt Mielke, an IT analyst for the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, asked his supervisor to nominate him for the class because he wanted to find additional ways to use his skills at Duke.

"My stretch assignment project of developing an external communication plan for our department let me step outside of the safety of my familiar job routines and proved to me that I could use my creativity in a different way to benefit the university," he said. 

The goal of the highly structured First Time Supervisor Program is to create a pool of employees with solid supervisory skills, Allison said.

"A critical part of creating a positive work environment is having good supervisors," she said. "This program is a way for Duke to develop high-potential employees and invest in the future of Duke."

In return for Duke's investment in professional development, First Time Supervisor participants commit to staying at Duke for at least two years after the completion of the program. During this time, they receive additional professional development and recruitment assistance.

"You have learned about teamwork, and you are part of a team here at Duke," Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration, told the class during the ceremony. "We take that seriously." 

This is the fourth cohort of participants to complete the First Time Supervisor class since it began in 2005. Approximately 80 percent of the graduates of the first three classes have been promoted into supervisory positions at Duke, according to Allison. 

Gloria Steverson, patient account team lead at the Patient Revenue Management Organization and class speaker, said participating in the class is not a guarantee of a promotion. 

"But what this class has done is given us tools and resources to successfully lead a team," she said. "We have a solid foundation to become successful supervisors."