Tales From the Front:
Cultivating Culture – Increasing Employee Engagement through Strategic Planning

Sara Reed and Lauralea Edwards

Wednesday, May 26
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM HST
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM MST

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM MDT

 CPE Credits: 1.2

Business Management & Organization

Program Knowledge: 

Session Description

Problem: Strategic planning in higher education is often seen as an institution-level initiative far removed from most employees (staff, faculty, and administrators). This session presents a case study of how Salt Lake Community College, a large, urban college, has created a process and culture of engaging its stakeholders not only in the initial planning but the ongoing conversations at the institution.
Solution: When a strategic planning process is tied to the mission, vision, and values of an institution, is embedded with the culture of the institution and involves ongoing dialogue, the process can be a powerful method of employee engagement.

Lessons Learned: Strategic planning done well requires a clear, unified mission, vision, and values. It also needs to connect to key objectives the institution would like to achieve and be imbedded into the normal ways of doing business at the institution, instead of being an outside committee or done as an additional project. Leveraging existing committees and organizational structures builds diverse and differing perspectives into the process, which leads to the strategic plan being an active, living plan in support of students. Finally, building accountability structures into the process in ways that facilitate autonomy and trust rounds out a successful planning process by creating an intentionality of culture through intentionality of values.
Benefit to others: This session is an interactive discussion around:

  • Techniques on engaging employees in creation of mission, vision, values, especially within strategic planning
  • Methods for starting conversations about integrating values into everyday work life
  • How executives can demonstrate commitment to the strategic plan and encourage further employee engagement.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop a deeper understanding of strategic planning
  2. Learn about strategies to enhance employee engagement through strategic planning
  3. Brainstorm ideas on how material can be utilized at institutions of all sizes

About the Speakers

 Sara Reed Photo

Sara Reed
Associate Vice President, People & Workplace Culture
Salt Lake City Community College

Sara Reed has over 20 years of experience in leadership, management, organizational change, and leadership development. Through her service in higher education and the military, she has led diverse teams throughout the globe. Currently, she serves as the Associate Vice President for People and Workplace Culture at Salt Lake Community College, where she leads a team to help transform the lives of staff and faculty through their employment at SLCC – from attracting to growing, retaining, engaging, and leaving a legacy. Previously, Sara served as the Director of Operations at the University of Utah’s Department of Internal Medicine and Executive Director of the Shared Services Center at the University of California, Davis. Sara is passionate about the role of higher education in America, especially in the areas of leadership diversity, inclusion, belonging, and helping all who participate in higher education in reaching their potential.

Sara is also an active volunteer in the Western Association of College and University Business Officers and currently chairs the Professional Development Workshop Committee, helping over 500 higher education professionals per year gain a variety of professional development. Prior to her transition to higher education, she served as an active duty military officer, leading teams of various sizes across the globe, and she continues to serve as a Reserve officer. She is currently the commander of the 50th Intelligence Squadron at Beale AFB, CA. She earned her doctorate from Drexel University, MA.Ed. from California State University – Sacramento, M.S. from Troy State, and BA from University of Minnesota. She is married and is mother to three daughters.

 Lauralea Edwards Photo

Lauralea Edwards
Assistant Vice President, Strategy & Analysis
Salt Lake City Community College

Lauralea Edwards is systems-oriented data strategist committed to integrating business and technology to make higher education affordable, accessible, and sustainable. With over ten years of experience, Ms. Edwards has founded a successful non-profit, and has led system-wide initiatives building data-informed processes to measure effectiveness in achieving strategic goals.