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Get a ‘Back to School’ Refresh with Professional Development

Duke Learning & Organization Development offers sessions on communication, resilience, time management, and more

a lightbulb and a book

In his role as a procurement specialist for the Duke Aging Center, Todd Lewis handles a wide range of tasks. 

From scheduling meetings for academic groups to facilitating purchases of everything from office supplies to wearable heart monitors for study participants, he’s got plenty on his plate. And after taking the Managing Multiple Priorities course from Duke Learning & Organization Development (L&OD) in March, he’s now able to handle tasks more efficiently.

He has embraced course strategies such as budgeting time for specific tasks and devoting time at the beginning and end of each day to craft a gameplan for how and when to get work items done.

“I find I’m getting a lot more done in a shorter amount of time because I’m not allowing anything else to get me off track,” he said. “Before, my day could get kind of scattershot. I’d have 20 different things to get done and I would try not to let any of them slip through the cracks. Now, it’s now a lot easier.”

Todd LewisPart of Duke Human Resources, L&OD offers courses for Duke staff and faculty about a wide range of leadership, communication, time management and technology topics. As the workforce emerges from the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new academic year begins, now is a perfect time to finish build new skills, or refresh existing ones.

“Now is the time for people to reengage and re-ignite in their professional development,” said Keisha Williams, Duke’s assistant vice President for L&OD. “There are a wealth of resources out there for people to tap into in our learning space. We have certificate of excellence designations if individuals are interested in a specific designation, leadership academies to grow your skills or our open enrollment professional development offerings to expose our workforce to a variety of current relevant skills that are needed in our current times. Now is the time to recalibrate and intentionally plan your learning journey. ‘’

Between now and the end of 2022, L&OD is offering 40 remaining courses on technology and professional skills, ranging from specific capabilities of Microsoft Excel to how to deliver effective feedback.

Keisha WilliamsWhile some topics in the mostly virtual sessions are aimed at managers, or address specialized work areas, most courses offer ideas and strategies that can help people in a broad range of roles.

“Regardless of your position, or how long you’ve been at Duke, these courses can help,” Lewis said. “We’ve all got a hundred things to do and more coming all the time. It can be overwhelming because it can feel like you don’t have enough time in the day. I think courses like this not only benefit the employee, but also Duke, because they’re gaining a more organized, more efficient and less stressed out employee.”

Learn more about three of the most popular courses available this fall and take a look at the rest of the offerings to see if there’s something for you.

Managing Multiple Priorities

Next online sessions: September 20December 12

Joy Birmingham, assistant director for Duke Learning & Organization Development, teaches the Managing Multiple Priorities Course. Photo courtesy of Joy Birmingham. Among the most popular courses, Managing Multiple Priorities is geared toward workers who have competing demands on time and attention. 

In addition to advice about organizing tasks, the three-hour workshop provides valuable strategies for building an efficient daily routine and opening lines of communications with colleagues and managers. 

“I think a lot of us are just trying to get by and do what we can today to survive until tomorrow,” said Joy Birmingham, L&OD associate director. “Instead of throwing you a life preserver, with this course, we want to teach you how to swim. That’s what time management is. It’s not just learning how get your work done and not lose your mind, it’s also about planning your attack so you can work toward your goals.”

Communicating with Diplomacy and Tact

Next online sessions: October 12 (Part I), November 14 (Part II)

Don Shortslef No job at Duke exists in a vacuum. Everyone, regardless of their position, will need to work in harmony with colleagues in some way to meet goals and carry out Duke’s mission. 

At the heart of that relationship is communication.

Senior Learning & Organization Development Consultant Don Shortslef, the leader of the two editions of the three-hour Communicating with Diplomacy and Tact course, offers participants strategies for being assertive, while respecting the emotions of others. He also provides insights on how effective listening and non-verbal cues can be as important as any words spoken.

“People who have these skills succeed in business and particularly in leadership roles,” Shortslef said. “You can have a high IQ and you can have strong skills, but if you don’t know how to communicate with people, have emotional intelligence, and know how to manage your emotions and the emotions of others, you’re not going to go as far.”

Resilience: Building Skills to Endure Hardship and Prevent Burnout

Next online session: November 7

Marjorie Siegert With a pandemic and plenty of upheaval at work and beyond, the past two years have left nearly everyone dealing with increased stress. And that stress can often lead to burnout. 

First offered in the fall of 2020, this three-hour course helps participants identify physical, emotional and behavioral signs of burnout and, through peer coaching and self-reflection, figure out ways to manage stress, strengthen resilience and find a way forward.

“No matter which side of the organization you come from, whether you’re a junior individual contributor or in senior leadership, we’re all members of a community,” said L&OD’s Senior Practitioner Marjorie Siegert, who leads the course. “We need to ask ourselves how we can find resilience, and how we can provide resilience for others?”

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