Hundreds participate in first year of supervisor training

Employees who earned Supervisor Development Certificate

 The first recipients of the certificate for advanced supervisor training are pictured at a celebration ceremony Jan 12. Back Row:  Richard Adzgowski, Kendra Bigsby, Yolanda Smith Thomas, Julie Pinkston,  Sarah Barrett, Kyle Haefner, Front Row: Jessica Hunter, Kirsten Slaughter-Rice, Jaqueline Clark, Danell Bartsch.

What do a couple hundred university supervisors have in common? They all are polishing their supervisory skills via the university’s supervisor develop program, launched a year ago in January 2017.

The classes have pinpointed a need that is so strong on campus, that the first round of courses were full within eight hours after they opened for registration. In the first year, more than 400 supervisors, including the President’s Cabinet, have attended at least one class, and 70 have completed all of the required courses.

The wild success of the program reflects the challenges of taking on a supervisory role; just navigating personnel issues and finding ways to motivate employees can keep supervisors on their toes. Many individuals in supervisory roles are promoted because of a skill set that may not directly relate to their new relationships with employees as a boss and mentor.

University Office of Training and Organizational Development Associate Director Marsha Benedetti speaks to a group
Training and Organizational Development Associate Director Marsha Benedetti speaks as the first employees to complete the Supervisor Development Certificate Program are celebrated, Jan. 12.

“Supervisors play a critical role in employees’ engagement and satisfaction,” Marsha Benedetti, associate director of Training and Organizational Development, said. “If everyone was a good supervisor, what would campus look like? We’d have a more engaged campus, higher employee retention and an overall better workplace. People would be able to discover and use their strengths to support the university, and find that they were more successful and felt more value in their time with us.”

Training and Organizational Development has created the free training program, and provides a framework of courses that are available to supervisors to take – some via a mandatory charge from President Frank to all supervisors, and some that help supervisors better hone particular skills beyond what’s required.

The goal of the training is to help supervisors become effective and inspired in their role and discover their leadership style and how it can be used to inspire employees. Many supervisors leave classes with new ideas that they can implement right away.

“The classes gave me tools to work with and understand a wide variety of age groups,” said Richard Adzgowski, a custodial supervisor with Facilities Management. “The supervisor training also provide me with many ideas and tools that were beneficial in forming a team environment verses a stand-alone ethic. I would like to see everyone take classes like the system thinking class and the strength based assessment; both illustrated how I fit into the big picture and provided plenty of insight on areas that I need to work on.

“One of the best parts of the program is that I was able to meet people from many different areas of Colorado State University, hear their ideas and share mine,” Adzgowski said, who recently completed the certificate courses. “The classes were well done and provided a dynamic, fun atmosphere to learn and engage with others.”

Jeff McCubbin, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, echoes Adzgowski’s observations about the benefit of hearing ideas from and making connections with other class participants. “I particularly value the integration of academic and administrative personnel that broadens the topics of conversation and comments,” McCubbin said. “Creating a campus culture truly involves all to be committed, informed with enriched and broadened perspectives. These trainings help make that happen, and the facilitators are organized and keep the sessions on track.”

All supervisors have three years to complete the entire required program, which is comprised of four foundational classes and two electives that can be selected from a variety of options. Those who want to further their skills beyond the required program can earn a certificate by taking the four required foundation courses and eight additional courses. Classes are offered each semester, and are capped at 30 people per class.

Detailed course and registration information is available at

Most of the spring training courses are full and currently have a waiting list, and Benedetti encourages employees to register for the waiting list if courses they want are full. This helps gauge demand so that additional courses can be opened.

Earlier this month, 13 supervisors from five colleges and units completed the certification courses and were recognized.