Dear NMC Community,

Over the past three weeks – has it been just three weeks that I’ve been on the job? – my focus has been three-fold:

  1. maintain the momentum, ensuring that all the good work that our faculty and staff have already set in motion, continues to move forward;
  2. build relationships, with both our internal and external stakeholders; and
  3. learn about NMC, and how we do things around here.

That translates to more than 100 calendared meetings and events during these first three weeks – listening and learning – seeking to better understand who we are and how we serve our students and the wider community.

  • I’ve talked one-to-one with students and attended events with them, like ice skating and an art reception to celebrate student contributors to the NMC Magazine. This week I will be attending a Visual Communications class where our students have created designs for our next year’s NMC Holiday Card, so I can see first-hand how our students are ‘doing to learn.’
  • I’ve met with our faculty and staff. From attending Faculty and Staff Council meetings, to numerous one-on-one interactions. From visiting a faculty member in the hospital to learning first-hand about the challenges of keeping up with snow removal on campus! I’ve even joined in a pick-up employee basketball game. But, most of all, I am looking forward to engaging faculty and students in their classrooms and our staff in their workplaces.
  • This past week, I connected with our alumni – more than 50 of them – participating in Trivia Night at Right Brain Brewery. And, next week, I will be travelling to Florida to meet even more alumni at receptions in Naples and Sarasota.
  • I have met with many of our supporters – donors and community members – who generously share their time, talents, and treasure with the college. Their passion for NMC is obvious – through their actions they are truly helping NMC “Be What’s Possible!”
  • And, I’ve met with many of our community’s businesses, organizations, and government leaders – who rely on NMC to help meet their talent needs and our region’s workforce development needs. What I am hearing is that NMC not only directly serves our students’ educational needs, we also serve our region’s economic development needs. One faculty member captured the essence of how we do this when he shared with me, “NMC doesn’t merely help students earn a degree. Rather, we help students build a financially stable career. Then, they are able to give back to the community.” Yes indeed, it’s a virtuous cycle, where the work of our college faculty and staff not only contributes to student success; our work also contributes to strengthening the fabric of this community.

I share this update to be both transparent about ‘what I’ve been doing’ and to be sure I am communicating and sharing feedback with you about what I am hearing as I engage in listening and learning. But also, recall, I promised that I’d share with you – weekly, over a five week period – a  short personal reflection about the “Five Behaviors of Cohesive Teams,” beginning with the importance of trust; then, working my way through – conflict, commitment, accountability and results.

I believe it’s important to begin with trust. Trust is relying on someone else to do the right thing. I hope my role modeling and actions show you that I can be trusted, as you rely on me to listen and learn; champion a student-centered focus, as well as a community-centered and community-serving focus; and to be the college’s Chief Storytelling Officer, sharing our good news stories, cheerleading and advocating for you, the college and our students.

I am also trusting you, relying on you to do the right thing. This week I witnessed just how reliable our NMC family is. When a longtime faculty member had to unexpectedly cancel his class for the semester, that very evening Bobbi Garner, the science and math office manager, came back into the office at 7 p.m. and worked with the instructor and his students until midnight, to ensure that they would be able to enroll in a class, and that there would be no adverse effect on their academic plans. Bobbi’s student-focused action is a touching example of how trust produces great organizational outcomes. It’s what happens when we can rely on someone else to do the right thing.

Of course, as we seek to grow together we’ll inevitably face challenges as all teams do; challenges around trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results. But, as one faculty member reminded me, after my last communication, “Living this out [the five behaviors of cohesive teams] starts with trust as the foundation, at the bottom of the page, and reads upward.” His point to me is a reminder that trust is foundational, it’s the bedrock upon which all of our aspirations will be built.

Together, let’s continue to strengthen our foundation of trust, inside and outside of NMC with our partners in the community – relying upon one another, so our students and the community can also rely upon us to do the right thing. The ‘so what’ of intentionally developing trust is that it is essential to an effective team, because it provides a sense of safety. When we feel safe with each other, we feel comfortable to open up, and take appropriate risks. Without trust there’s less collaboration, creative thinking and innovation. On the flip side, where there’s trust, we don’t hold back, we’re ‘all in.’ We think out-of-the-box and are willing to take prudent risks. In high-trust environments we don’t need to look over our shoulders, instead we look to each other, and together we look ahead.

Together, let’s continue to look ahead!