ESD 112 support staff support each other with Job Alike Workgroup

Administrative Assistants, Secretaries and Office Assistants are crucial to supporting the daily functions of ESD departments and programs. And sharing their work and learning from one another is also crucial. This is where the ESD 112 Support Staff Job Alike Workgroup comes in.

The Workgroup is the brainchild of the Administrative Assistant Leadership Team (AALT), the ESD 112 Administrative group. AALT created the job alike meetings for all support staff two years ago and the positive feedback has been remarkable. Members meet voluntarily five times a year to:

  1. pool resources and talents to encourage problem solving;
  2. streamline processes; and
  3. improve communication to support inter-agency collaboration, individual growth and unity.

The first few times the group met last year, they developed the meeting format and brainstormed a long list of topics to discuss, such as “Managing Emails” and “Positivity in the Workplace.” Now they pull from that list to create their meeting agendas. In a typical hour-long meeting, the large group of 20-30 support staff participate in a quick ice breaker and learn a fun fact about an administrator or function of the agency. Then one to two members give a presentation on their own department or program during the “program showcase.”

At the most recent meeting in February, support staff learned about the Information Technology department from Secretary Valerie Deen and the Educational Service Agency (ESA) from Secretary Connie Salzman.

“In all my years working here, I’ve never had to get up and talk in front of a group of people,” confessed Deen at the beginning of her presentation.

Wendy Niehaus, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent notes, “It’s great practice for our staff to build leadership and presentation skills.”

Professional Development is one of the ESD’s priorities identified by the ESD 112 Cabinet’s Agency Culture Initiatives. Job alike workgroups, like this one, help build opportunities for career development within the agency.

After the program showcase, the group breaks into smaller discussion groups to tackle a couple of topics they have identified. Members find these discussions invaluable as a way to share ideas and learn how other staff members have solved similar problems in their own departments.

Overall, the Support Staff Job Alike Workgroup has proven to be a great way to strengthen ties across departments within the agency. “Our support staff have indicated they are really getting a lot out of it,” said Niehaus. “We are excited to share what we have learned with other job alike groups in the agency that could benefit from something similar.”

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