Quality and Productivity Database

Descriptive Title of Proposal: Own Your Zone Learning Program - Unlocking Our Cognitive Traps
Year Submitted 2017
Person(s) Responsible for the Idea
Name / Nom Title / Titre
Raf Jamil Organizational Development Specialist
Lonnie Harder Associate Director, Building Services
Jacqueline Hunks Training Administrator
Robin Lubaga Trainer
Name of Institution University of Saskatchewan
Office Address University Services Building
110 Maintenance Road
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5C5
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Telephone: 306-966-4748
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Name (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Dan Swerhone
Title (Senior Administrative Office of the Institution) Director, Operations and Maintenance
Office Address University Services Building
110 Maintenance Road
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 5C5
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Telephone: 306-966-4534
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Abstract

The Own Your Zone (OYZ) program is a distinct approach to employee training within higher education. OYZ was conceptualized to strengthen the implementation of the Facilities Management Division (FMD) Zone Delivery Model, intended to provide better service to the University of Saskatchewan community. OYZ targets the varied needs of a diverse workforce of 175 custodians and takes a multifaceted approach to providing a wholesome, sustainable and permanent solution to addressing these needs, realizing staff potential and helping the zone model succeed.

The creativity and potential risks associated with this innovative program challenge the customary thinking at FMD. The defining pillar of the program stems from the humanistic adult learning approach - a personal reinforcing logic - instead of a contemporary behaviouristic approach which can lead to emotional labour.

The needs assessment phase identified multicausal problems hence a multifaceted solution; OYZ comprising eight modules. While each module has a clear goal, they have interlocking attributes that complement each other, magnified by a unique delivery approach, to achieve the chief goal of enhancing the customer interaction experience by better serving the campus community.

The OYZ modules are:

  • Speak to My Zone – discusses real-time job situations and proposed solutions through face-to-face group learning

  • Enhance My Zone – shows appreciation and respect to custodians, increasing their sense of belonging as the face of FMD to the campus community

  • Take Pride in My Zone – discusses professional behaviour in a safe learning environment

  • Welcome to Your Zone – trains new hires in an individual-centric learning approach

  • Lead My Zone – Zone Managers lead by example by doing custodial work in a consistent, disciplined and unified manner

  • Build My Zone – describes a set of values and principles to live by

  • Know My Zone – a knowledge exam to boost sense of pride, confidence and build knowledge to proactively serve the campus community

  • Polish My Zone – the collection of data and feedback to evaluate the program

OYZ is a three-year program created by FMD staff for FMD staff. Despite being only half-way through, with four modules implemented, this program is already showing a positive influence on all stakeholders.

Criteria Please submit one paragraph describing how the proposal fulfills each of the evaluation criteria.
Transferability

A mixture of qualitative and quantitative data suggests that the general mix of the custodial staff at other Canadian universities is similar to the University of Saskatchewan (U of S). Custodial staff is generally diverse and has similar needs and problems, such as conflict resolution, cultural awareness, confidence and shyness, social awareness, and interacting with customers. The Own Your Zone program was designed to address each of the identified needs. Any university with similar needs could benefit from this program. A survey of 10 western-Canadian universities reveals that there is no comprehensive learning solution compared to the scale, size and goals of the Own Your Zone program, which makes Own Your Zone highly transferable. The courseware and the program are specifically customized for a university setting and are also cost effective, which makes it further transferable to other universities. The real-time situational topics discussed and trained in the Speak to My Zone module are extremely transferable as they are situations that could occur at any university. Some universities have outsourced their custodial workforce, but this learning is still applicable regardless of custodial services being in-house or outsourced.

Quality Impact

The needs assessment conducted for the Own Your Zone program identified the following needs: cultural issues, conflict resolution, consistent and appropriate interaction with customers and co-workers, feeling disrespected, showing respect to the campus community, a positive work attitude, gender bias, confidence and shyness, bullying, social and situational awareness.

A survey (attached) completed 14 months into the implementation of Own Your Zone reveals the following data:

  • 89% can deal with customers in a more confident manner

  • 80% can express themselves more fluently and confidently

  • 83% have increased their understanding of professional behaviour

  • 82% feel respected and think their work is appreciated by FMD leadership

  • 75% agreed that FMD is investing in their development

  • 82% feel more pride in helping their campus community

Selected individual comments of trainees:

  • I strongly agree that the program helps better interpersonal relationships with fellow coworkers and helps to develop professionalism.

  • I think it’s a good program. I think everyone is more aware of professional behaviour.

  • I learned the dos and don’ts of my job.

  • I feel more confident while interacting with my coworkers.

Productivity Impact

Own Your Zone is in its second year of implementation but it is already having a positive impact on all the trainees. So far, a total of 2964 hours of training have been imparted to 175 trainees over 59 weeks (17 hours per trainee).

A survey (attached) conducted 14 months after the start of OYZ shows the following:

  • 74% have increased their level of engagement

  • 73% have increased their level of confidence

  • 77% have increased their sense of belonging to the U of S and their zones

  • 74% have improved teamwork

  • 73% have improved their ability to handle conflicts

  • 81% have improved their understanding of different cultures

  • 75% have developed skills in interacting with colleagues

  • 83% have increased opportunities to share their experiences

Innovation

Own Your Zone is innovative considering that FMD is in its early stages in terms of creative appetite and absoluteness of risk tolerance. The leadership challenged its own risk-averse thinking to redefine risk, failure, and experimentation as the way to innovation, and approved an empowerment model resulting in the implementation of a self-directed work team for the program. This was achieved by having the six Zone Managers create, design, implement, follow-up, amend, adjust, and evaluate the program from start to finish. This also resulted in the elimination of a need for buy-in by the managers since they created, owned, and implemented the program. The managers follow a “personal and peer accountability” model instead of the traditional top-down model. The decision to build the program in-house was made after a rigorous and intensive “buy versus build” analysis - the courseware development, delivery of training and everything from conceptualization to completion is done by internal employees, with every decision approved by the Zone Managers. The defining and foundational pillar of the program stems from the humanistic adult learning approach - a personal reinforcing logic - instead of a contemporary behaviouristic approach which can lead to emotional labour. Another pillar of the program is the adaptation of the “Appreciative Inquiry” philosophy which builds on the existing strengths of the trainees and the organization. The goals of the program may be focused on enhancing the customer experience but the animating force fuelling the passion is the desire to help employees realize their full potential to excel personally and professionally. The structured instructional design method required a needs assessment, which identified multicausal problems. The needs assessment was followed by the design, implementation, and evaluation of the program. Because the needs assessment phase revealed multicausal problems, a multifaceted solution was engineered. This solution was the Own Your Zone program, comprising eight modules. While each module has a clear goal, they have interlocking attributes that complement each other, magnified by a unique delivery approach, to achieve the chief goal of enhancing the customer interaction experience by better serving the campus community. The modules are not mutually exclusive but they are collectively exhaustive to provide a wholesome solution for the identified needs. The modules are:

  • Speak to My Zone – This first module is imparted by educators in face-to-face group learning. The objectives of this module are to increase confidence, discuss real-time job-related problems and possible solutions in a safe learning environment, and to pave the way for other modules. Speak to My Zone and Enhance My Zone complement each other.

  • Enhance My Zone – This module was launched with Speak to My Zone. The main objectives of this module are to show appreciation and respect to the custodial staff, and to increase their sense of belonging to the division and the university.

  • Take Pride in My Zone – This module was launched 10 months into the program. It works alongside Speak to My Zone to discuss professional behaviour in a safe learning environment.

  • Welcome to Your Zone – This module targets the newly hired custodians. One of the educators meets one-on-one with the new employee to welcome them to campus, and to explain Own Your Zone.

  • Lead My Zone – The objective of this module is to show through action that the Zone Managers respect the custodians and the work they do. The Zone Managers lead by example by doing custodial work in a consistent, disciplined and unified manner.

  • Build My Zone – This module is a set of values and principles to live by. It is launched with Lead My Zone. Zone Managers train the trainees and then model the values in their daily routine.

  • Know My Zone – This module is an opportunity for the staff to learn more about the university. It is a set of knowledge exams intended to boost pride and confidence, and to build knowledge in order to help employees proactively serve the campus community.

  • Polish My Zone – This module collects data and feedback to evaluate the program.

Supporting Documents