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Customer Feedback

"Your course made the difference... now I have the tools to build my understanding of what's going on."
Margaret Maxwell, Quality Team, Bureau of Land Management

"Employees are resolving their own conflicts now, asking for coaching tips rather than asking the manager to deal with it for them."
Tom Washburn, Production Manager, Hewlett-Packard

"Susan Wehrspann has consistently delivered highly ranked and valued classes to Hewlett-Packard employees in northern Colorado. Her inclusive approach to communication and collaborative team building continue to make a difference in the workplace."
Hewlett-Packard, Northern Colorado Education & Development

"Susan helps put individuals at ease and quickly breaks down barriers that inhibit creative expression."
Tom Fujiyoshi, President, Center for Quality Studies

"The class applauded your excellent presentation style, attention-keeping techniques and the value of the information presented."
D. Schultz, USDA Forest Service

"Susan demonstrates that exemplary quality of going beyond what is necessary - an outstanding human being who truly cares about people."
Betty J. Handy, Training Coordinator, State of Colorado


I've been using the problem solving module that we worked with in training to fill the 2 vacant positions in my section.  Below is the situation and the people involved.  I don't have an outcome yet due to some Human Resources circumstances that have arisen and extended the process.  I'm at step 4 and holding.  The method has helped to keep the process focused.

Problem Statement:  The Resources Section needs to fill two vacant positions, a Resource Assistant and a ___ Assistant, from two Certificates of Eligible Candidates. Desired State:  Fill each position with the most qualified candidate. Selection Process:

      Review applications

      Document strengths and weaknesses

      Interview as needed

The following steps were taken in order to progress through the selection


1.  List each candidate's strengths and weaknesses, and summarize that list.  Criteria used for identifying strengths and weaknesses were based on duties listed in vacancy announcements to which the candidates responded. 2.  Identify strongest candidates based on determinations made in step 1. 3.  Conduct reference checks of strongest candidates.  All references are to be asked the same questions.  These questions relate to the candidate's skills, abilities, and capabilities of working on their own, in a team, and with diverse people. 4.  Conduct interviews with the strongest candidates.  All candidates are to be asked the same questions.  These questions are based on the candidate's experience with the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities listed in each position description. 5.  Select the best candidate based on determinations made in steps 3 and 4.

Resource Specialist

 It really helps to find out how we traditionally deal with people. He is still looking at what I gave him. Any ways, I applied what you taught us to an employee that I supervise. He is a very talented, hardworking employee, that once you direct him to do something he will readily do it. However, he seems to lack self confidence to some degree. He initially appeared somewhat aloof to me as his new supervisor. For the last month I have been trying to pin him down to have his mid-year performance evaluation. Early last week I had the opportunity to again remind him that we needed to have his mid-year performance evaluation done asap, but that it will be totally painless-I told him that it was something that I had to do, but I wanted to use the opportunity to discuss his interests, career goals, and training needs-real positive experience. Apparently he believed me and trusted me, because that same day he can wandering into my office ready for the evaluation. I began our meeting telling how much I appreciated all that he has done since I came on-board, and that I really appreciated all his hard work. We proceeded to discuss the jobs that he would be responsible for during the remainder of the year, what kind of training he would like to have this year, his career goals and what types of additional skill qualifications he would like to develop. It was a very productive and positive meeting. I definitely think that the interpersonal effectiveness skills that you taught us helped me out. Thanks for a wonderful training session, and best of luck. I also told my district ranger that you would be interested in coming to the district and help direct our self-evaluation of how we deal with people. ....

Resource Specialist


My supervisory went on vacation leave and I was in the acting position, in May. We received notice from the Washington Office that we had lost more than 200 slots for our Program. One member, M___, of my supervisor's team (my team) is in this program. My situation was to attend a large meeting where the program status would be explained to all participants and their current manager, with M__ and then meet with her one on one after the meeting to attend to any concerns she may have. The good news was that the program was not ending right away. We have until the 30th, so more than 30 days notice. Additionally, the program manager here started to work right away on placements with other agency's that may include the option of keeping our employees here, while paid for by another agency.


The large meeting went as best as can be expected, given the news. Most seemed relieved that they were not being let go that day and had until the 30th. When I met right afterward with M____, I worked real hard at putting into place the listening skills, without judgment, or turning the conversation into my similar situation of last year. I made sure I met with her without my usual distractions (things in my hands, taking notes). I think it was important that we met in her space, not mine and not in my supervisors. We talked (M_____ talking mostly, and me listening) for a long time, longer than I thought we would, and at the end, she said to, "thank you for caring." I believe she meant it. I know I did. She is a wonderful worker, and a good person. I am hoping to have word by the end of this week that we will be able to keep her.

Acting Director


….First let me say I really did enjoy this class and thought you did an excellent job of facilitating.  You seem to be the type of person who really enjoys life and that is good.


Since returning back to my office I have been trying to apply some of my learning to the job situations.  I have been trying to improve my interpersonal and communication skills by asking more open-ended questions and paraphrasing more.  I think I am a fairly good listener but practice does make perfect.  Also, we have a new employee whom I work closely with and I have tried to be more delegating and yet let him feel his way and ask questions without hanging directly over him.  He seems confident and doesn't hesitate to ask questions so I feel like I am doing a decent job so far. I think your class will definitely help me.

Business Manager



What is a Supervisor?

What is a good Supervisor?

What is an effective Supervisor?


You must learn not only the definitions to this terminology, but the meaning of each as well. You can take a person and place them in a supervisory role, but this does not necessarily make them Supervisor material. An effective Supervisor must be prepared for challenges, open to learning all the time and have adaptability at all times. I feel a Supervisor must be open to all aspects of the selected job(s) that one has supervision of. You must be prepared for everyday to be a challenge, without challenge the learning stops and I feel that a good effective supervisor never stops learning. When you feel you know it all you can only work for and with yourself. To be an effective leader you must be open to change. Change is a person's biggest challenge, it happens constantly.

I will briefly touch base on my late employee issue. After taking your class I began to approach her situation differently. We first began by having a meeting, away from any distractions, away from any disruptions, away from the atmosphere of "What will happen next to interrupt us?" We went to a quiet place, no phone calls, no students, no venders, and no interruptions at all. I explained to her all the issues concerning her job, her job performance or lack of, and issues that would prevent her from getting her job on a permanent basis is some of her inconsistencies were not corrected. As her Supervisor I had to explain to her the effects of how her tardiness was indeed affecting her job. I told her that as much as I would like to not have to have this conversation with her, I must. Her future with the Forest Service would end for habitual tardiness if it continued; this is a critical area on her evaluation. I explained to her that no matter how great of an employee she is, how devoted to covering her work, how good she worked with the students or any of the other wonderful things she had to offer our organization; it wouldn't matter when she was out of a job for habitual tardiness. I told her that the final decision was not up to me, it was up to a panel team. They would review her folder and the history since beginning here and then she would be offered a permanent position or not. The team will see her habitual tardiness in writing, see if corrective actions have been offered from me and a plan put in place to correct some of the issues. All of which I have done and there has been no improvement. I think for the first time she heard me. I think for the first I heard her, I heard what she was saying. I always (tried) to listen, but I was not sure if I heard her.

She opened up to me about allot of issues that she has involving her 4 teenagers, all of whom are aged 14 to 20 years old. I listened, not saying anything. As of June 12th, 2003 she has had only 1 tardy day and it was due to a flat tire on the way to work, and she was only 7 minutes late for her shift. She told me that for the first time since she began her employment in December 2002 that she felt like she was part of "our team". She thanked me for listening and she thanked me for hearing her. She also thanked me for being a good supervisor. For being understanding, while I was still being the heavy. She said I was a good Supervisor. This meant the world to me. Maybe she just needed to have someone listen to her and someone to really hear what she was saying, I don't know, but I do know that she has changed one really bad habit. We all need to be heard from time to time. I feel that the First Time Supervisors class was very educational where knowledge is concerned, but being a good effective Supervisor will come from trial, error and effort. Sometimes what is read from the pages is not all black and white. Experience is the greatest teacher. I will apply all that you have taught, all that I have learned and each day of challenge together and one of these days I will be that supervisor that is remembered for all that I gave, and not for what I took. I want to have positive effects on the people that I supervise. I know that the role that I am now playing will not always be positive, there is the bad with the good, but I am ready for the challenges of my chosen job. I want to succeed and I want to be good at what I do. Once again, I welcome the challenges ahead of me. My goal is to be fair, effective and "GREAT!" I am not sure if this is what you were looking for, but this is what my heart tells me and my fingers typed. Thank You for becoming such a positive person in my life! Thank you for giving us such a wonderful panel team, what a wonderful amount of knowledge placed before us. They were all impressive. Some were more prepared than others and I'm sure some spoke with honesty and sincerity. M______ did well in picking the panel members for us. Once again, THANK YOU, you did an excellent job at teaching us and THANK YOU for all that you are helping me to achieve. What is a Supervisor? What is a good Supervisor? What is an effective Supervisor? ME!!!

USFS JC Supervisor


As I'm the supervisor of the marking crew, I learned to relax my use of directive behaviors and started using more supportive behaviors. I used to come in the office and tell the crew "to get going to the field" in a stern tone. Now, I'll go to the office and ask the crew if they are ready to go out to the field. If they are ready, then I will, in a supportive and moral-boosting tone, say something like, "let's go out in the field and teach the trees what it is like to be marked." Since I've been more relaxed in my commands, the crew have done better job of getting things done.


Since most of the marking crew members consist of at least a year of marking experience, they mostly know what is expected of them in terms of marking timber. However, one of the markers is not very confident in marking timber. I encourage him in marking timber. I'll be supportive and I tell him that if he has a question in regard to a tree to be marked, do not hesitate to ask me. I'm more supportive than direct to encourage the marker to be more confident in marking timber.  I want to make sure that the marker actually enjoys the decision making process of marking timber. For example if the marker tallies a tree and I find an error that the marker made, I'll say, "Well, 45 feet is not necessarily right, however, I would recommend you to go to 52 feet. The reason it should be at 52 feet is..." Then, I'll ask the marker if the 52 feet decision is understood and clear and encourage the marker to keep up the good work.


I encourage the markers to make decisions for them. An example would be if I have to work in the office and I delegate my duties to the crew leader, I'll let the crew leader know a certain type of work that needs to be done. Then, I'll ask the crew leader how the work will be done. When the crew leader tells me how the crew will be lead and how the work will be done, I will either agree or reject the crew leader's ideas. However, I will be supportive by saying, "I like your idea because it is..." or I will disagree with the idea by saying, "It probably will not work very well, however, I like the fact that you are trying to get the work done. What I would recommend is...however if you are more comfortable with your idea, its okay as long as you get the job done."


The crew members practiced for the Fire Pack Test by walking around with a 45 pound sand pack. After their practice, we went out to the field to mark timber. In the process of getting the paint ready, I noticed that the crew members were very sore from the practice. So, I asked them how sore they were. I listened to them telling me that they were extremely sore and that their legs were hurting. I could tell that they were not feeling too well either. I did not have any experience with the pack test so I didn't know how sore one could be. So, I reacted by telling them that we will not mark timber (which includes extensive walking) instead we'll do light duties for the rest of the day.  Because of that, they were very motivated to do the light duty work because they would not have to mark timber with very sore legs.


Since I've taken the training, I've studied the markers more often. I watch their behaviors more closely, ask how they're doing, and talk with them about their interests in life as well as how their families are doing. We've decided to have a "get-together-kind-of-thing" outside our work hours. For example, one of the markers invited all of the marking crew to a BBQ feast at the marker's house in a couple weeks. We decided to take turns to host our "get-together" thing so that we can learn more about each other and keep our morals high. We have a tough job that includes sweat, blood, and guts so we need to keep each other going and keep the moral high. This is the first time in my 3 1/2 years as a timber marker that I’ve seen all of the crew members supports each other.


I learned a lot from the training and I have seen improvement with the crew. I try the best to be a good supervisor to them.

Supervisory Forestry Technician

Sue: Sorry this took so long. This is the tail end of a very busy hiring season - so I'm up for a breather! Let's see...When I first got home after the class I used the chart idea to help my kids make some decisions about how to be more organized. First, to organize their thoughts and then, to figure out priorities. I use the same method for myself too, when there are conflicting problems vying for my attention. I also showed the method to my husband who recently became a first time supervisor. It's a great way to brainstorm and it lets you see everything in black and white. It's there to refer to when other things interrupt the process as well. Thanks for sharing it with us! I enjoyed the class!


Business Management Assistant

 As I recall, we are required to email you with how we have applied our new-found knowledge in order to receive our completion certificate.  So here goes...

After learning about the different personalities I have been able to "label" certain people at work as a certain flavor.  Once I have labeled them, and I know that all flavors are equally good, I can expect certain behavior from them like we discussed in class.  Wade, (who came to class with me) and I are presenting the information we learned in your class to our division soon and I have been able to apply my knowledge in the following instance.  Wade and I agreed on what we would work on for the presentation.  I have performed my duties in a timely manner, being the chocolate type, and in my opinion, Wade is taking too long to get his done!  I know (now) that Wade is VERY strawberry and so he does well working at his own pace without being supervised too closely.  I want to check in with him on his progress because I am anxious to know the status.  I know that if I continually check in with him, I will probably get on his nerves (and create problems) and he won't want to work on projects in the future together.  Even though it is not the chocolate's style, I am forcing myself to give him his space, since I know he is reliable, and leave him alone to do his own thing (prevent problem).  If I let him be his strawberry self I know the work he is doing will be creative and unique as the strawberry profile describes.

 HR Specialist

       Man have I been busy in recreation lately, but I guess that I had better take time to do my assignment if I want my certificate.


I enjoyed the training we had and I feel I have some good information to pull from in the future. Well I had an issue to deal with concerning an employee taking advantage of the leave system here at work. The way I handled the situation was to wait until it was time for a mid term evaluation, when we made it to the teamwork part I brought up that it is important that all the team members feel that all the team members are pulling their fair share of the load. We also talked about just what the procedure is to call in and how it is important to be honest and dedicated to your job. Other team members are quick to point out that you may be taking advantage of the sick leave system.

         The approach seems to work so far. Thank you for having the class and good luck to you and I hope to have some more training with you in the future.


Recreation  Director

Do I have some updates for you. Last week, H____ and I gave our presentation to our division. It went very well. H____ shared with me the email she sent you (we both got a good chuckle out of our differences) and were able to devise a plan of attack catering to both our needs to get the project done. A completion schedule without too many details... a little chocolate, a little strawberry. All deadlines were met, and we've received rave reviews.


Anyway, our presentation lasted nearly an hour. Quite a bit longer than either of us expected. During the presentation, H______ and I had everyone complete the personality questionnaire. Not so surprisingly to either of us, the results were very similar to that of our class. There was an even breakout of chocolates and vanillas and only one strawberry (my supervisor).

Being a strawberry myself, why I like him so much as a supervisor became pretty clear to me. He lets me work as I see best fit and when I do need his input, it's normally because I could use his creative opinion.

However, not all is well in strawberry land. My boss's supervisor (Financial Analyst) is a chocolate tried and true. So, my boss and I are taking it upon ourselves to create procedures for many of our repetitive activities and more paper trails to appease the Financial Analyst’s  chocolate side. I couldn't ask for better people to work with but this has been probably one of the largest issues we've faced in recent months.


While this has just started, it's going quite well. Instead of writing procedures, we're animating them in a flow chart program. This definitely is more appealing to my strawberry side... it just seems more creative and practical. We're also reviewing some of our manuals. While I typically keep most of my procedures in my head, it has been interesting putting them to paper. There may be something to that chocolate thing. Working through the details is already helping me understand more of the specifics.


Thank you very much for the lessons earlier this month. They have definitely been helpful.

Finance Director

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