Workplace Skills

Wondering how you can enhance your workplace performance? Attend any of the following Workplace Skills workshops, customized specifically for Northwestern faculty and staff; most workshops are also open to non-NU participants.

HRD500- Better Business Grammar and Usage

Their tone and content may be serious, but letters, memos, e-mail messages, proposals, and reports with grammatical or punctuation errors won't be taken seriously. In this two-part workshop, participants learn how to avoid embarrassing mistakes in everyday business correspondence by getting a comprehensive, confidence-building review of the basic rules of grammar, capitalization, word usage, sentence structure, and punctuation.

Key Points

  • Identify and use the eight parts of speech correctly
  • Write clear, complete sentences, fix sentence fragments and run-on sentences
  • Spot and correct errors of agreement, consistency problems and pronoun mistakes, and misplaced or dangling modifiers
  • Change passive voice to active voice
  • Use that/which, who/whom appropriately
  • Spot and correct missing or misplaced periods, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks, apostrophes, hyphens, dashes
  • Use colons, semicolons, parentheses, and ellipses correctly
This two-part workshop meets once a week over two consecutive weeks; please plan to attend both dates.

HRD655- Certified ScrumMaster Training

In this highly interactive two-day workshop, participants will begin the process of identifying when Scrum-based project management is appropriate over traditional project management. Participants will also explore ways to solve complex problems using the flexible Scrum methodology.

Key Topics:
  • ScrumMaster vs. Project Manager
  • Identifying Scrum-appropriate projects
  • Overview of Scrum and agile fundamentals
  • Implementing Scrum team roles and responsibilities

The workshop will prepare participants for the Certified ScrumMaster assessment and reveal the impact of Scrum on complex project/product development. Whether participants are already practicing Scrum, interact with Scrum teams or are faced with complex project/product development, this class will sharpen their ability to more efficiently manage projects. Participants will work on a real project in class, participate in Scrum ceremonies and assume a Scrum role on a development team. Participants should come prepared to explore the practice of Scrum, why it works and how it could impact their work environment.

After the workshop, participants will need to complete an online assessment if they wish to pursue the Certified ScrumMaster designation. Participants will also have complimentary access to:

  • Two year membership to the Scrum Alliance ($50 value)
  • 6-month access to a Scrum planning and implementation tool for themselves and their team members (a value of $30 per person)
  • Several job aids, sprint planning cards, and a workbook/reference guide

Basic familiarity with agile/Scrum is recommended, but not required. This course also offers 14 PMI PDU’s.

HRD960- Crucial ConversationsĀ®

Crucial conversations take place every day in our work. You know the type -- conversations where there are high stakes, differences of opinion, and strong emotion. The difference between mediocre and top performance lies not in strategies, hardware, or even in processes, but in how people handle those difficult conversations. At the heart of all problems in a team or organization are conversations that are either not being handled, or not being handled well.

Key Points

  • Identify the conversations that are keeping you from your desired results
  • Speak persuasively not abrasively, no matter the topic
  • Make it safe for others to share their honest opinions
  • Deal with people who either clam up or blow up
  • Gain control of your own emotional responses
  • Disagree without being disagreeable
  • Influence without exerting force
  • Improve teamwork, productivity and effectiveness

This practical and powerful two-day workshop is based upon a top-ten best-selling business book, Crucial Conversations.

HRD575- Developing a Content Strategy for your Website

This workshop-style course is an introduction to Web Content Strategy. It guides participants through the critical step of planning a site's identity, voice and tone. After reviewing strategies for developing these messaging goals, we will do a series of fun hands-on activities to create tools, such as an identity statement and voice and tone guidelines. If possible, attend this course with other members of your team!

HRD580- Document Design: Make the Most of Your Message

A well-designed document is more than just pleasing-it is easier to read, understand, scan and review. This workshop will help you organize information and design your letters, memos, e-mail messages and reports so that you will be able to make your point more skillfully and effectively. You will learn how to:

  • Choose the correct format, design and typeface
  • Think about the best design before you get started
  • Use headings, subheads, bullets and white space effectively
  • Use graphics, tables and charts to create impact
  • Use visual devices to emphasize main ideas and increase readability
  • Design flyers and announcements

HRD620- Effective Meetings

How to manage meetings to make them more effective, more productive and more timely.

Key Points

  • Building effective agendas
  • Handling challenging participants
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Alternatives to meetings

HRD630- Effective Presentation Skills for the Nervous & Novice

This foundation-level, one-day presentation skills workshop will help you manage your nerves and get your presentations started on the right foot. Through an interactive process in which skills are introduced and practiced, you'll work on your own real-life presentation and learn how to:

  • Manage nervousness and control your racing thoughts
  • Engage listeners in a comfortable, flexible, conversational process
  • Build your confidence
  • Be clear and concise
  • Introduce your presentations clearly and concisely
  • Think on your feet

Throughout the class, you will work on your own real-life presentation. This workshop uses video-recorded exercises and private video review to help you identify and develop skills you need to succeed.

Who Should Attend:

This workshop is designed for those with little presentation experience and those who suffer from a great deal of nervousness. Job-seekers will also find this session beneficial because skills can be easily transferred to job interviews.

HRD645- Getting Things DoneĀ®

Are you experiencing a constant deluge of email and phone calls? Do your daunting projects seem impossible to complete? Is the avalanche of incoming information and outstanding action items keeping you awake at night? This full-day Getting Things Done® Essentials workshop will provide tools and tips for implementing an improved work-life management system that can transform uncertainty into stress-free productivity.

Workshop participants will receive a copy of David Allen’s bestseller Getting Things Done and several practical resources for future success using the GTD methodology.

Key Points

This engaging and interactive workshop will teach you how to:

  • get your email inbox to empty
  • make responsible commitments to new ideas and projects
  • maximize return on your time — to do more with less
  • gain clarity of what is more and less important
  • improve the balance of proactive versus reactive behaviors
  • get projects unstuck

HRD660- Grace Under Pressure

*The cost of Grace Under Pressure is funded by the Office of Human Resources Work/Life Division. A cancellation no-show fee of $225 applies to all registrations.*

It's that sort of day.

The phone is ringing off the hook. You're put on the spot in a meeting. All the problems are getting dumped in your lap.

You can feel yourself becoming reactive. You know you're not thinking clearly, that you're not being effective, but you don't know what to do. How can you turn a bad situation around?

“Grace Under Pressure” offers new tools for remaining calm, focused and open-minded during difficult encounters – real physical techniques that counteract what our bodies do during stress.

Many of these new approaches come from recent brain research.

In this lively, memorable half-day workshop, you'll go far beyond theory. You'll practice these techniques and make them your own, ready to put to use the next morning – or even on the way home that night.

Key Points

  • Maintain composure in difficult situations
  • Reduce stress on the spot
  • Reverse the “fight or flight” reaction
  • Think more clearly under pressure
  • Be more present in difficult situations

HRD675- Interacting with Customers

Customer service has become more important than ever, but it’s also harder to do well.  No wonder:  everyone is stressed, and there’s so little time to get things right.

How can you determine what your customers need, help them find solutions, and send them off happy – even on those days when nothing seems to work?

“Interacting with Customers” will give you tools to create an outstanding customer experience for all the people you interact with.  And since the University environment has its own special considerations, you’ll have opportunities to practice your new approaches in realistic, Northwestern-style situations. 

Making your customers’ lives easier will make yours easier as well. 

You’ll learn about:

  • What customers want
  • Setting expectations
  • Creating positive customer relationships
  • Managing difficult conversations
  • The appropriate apology
  • Owning the problem, not the blame

HRD615- Managing Up: A Partnership Involving Expectations, Success and Continuous Improvement for You and Your Boss

A harmonious, productive workplace relationship with your manager is one of the most important factors in your job satisfaction and success. If you work well and communicate effectively with your boss, you’re more likely to remain at your organization and sustain your success there. This highly interactive workshop can help you learn how and why.

Key Points

  • Get expert tips on the best ways to approach your manager
  • Quickly determine and clarify your manager’s expectations
  • Learn to “give your boss feedback” about things that are sensitive
  • Bring your best to your workplace relationship with your supervisor (and get his/hers in return)

HRD632- Mastering Your Presentations

This two-day comprehensive workshop is interactive and realistic. It builds the skills you need to manage with confidence all aspects of the presentation process. Throughout, you will work on your own real-life presentation. Taught by two instructors, this workshop uses video-recorded exercises and private instructor-led video review to help you develop skills you need to succeed. You’ll learn how to:

  • Organize information so that it’s persuasive and listener-focused
  • Create effective visual aids to support key messages
  • Engage listeners in a comfortable, flexible, conversational process
  • Be clear and concise
  • Use visual aids effectively whether seated or standing, projected or hardcopy
  • Think on your feet
  • Manage and facilitate interactions with listeners

Mastering Your Presentations includes pre-work as well as job aids for applying what’s learned in class to situations you face outside of it.

Who Should Attend:

This workshop is designed for business presenters, facilitators and trainers with some presentation experience. Comfort with PowerPoint or other presentation software is a plus.

HRD975- Positioning Yourself for a Leadership Role

This highly engaging and interactive half-day workshop is designed for Northwestern employees contemplating their first supervisory position. The path to management is not for everyone and this program will help participants evaluate both their interest and aptitude for taking on leadership responsibilities. Further, we will discuss a set of career strategies that build visibility, gain support and establish credibility. Participants will engage in a set of exercises designed to simulate some of the challenges of supervising others, and will draw on this to design a personal development plan.  

HRD650- Project Management Essentials

This workshop will help both new and experienced project managers review ways to produce a realistic and manageable project timeline. Participants learn the concepts and processes which can be applied to setting project goals, identifying project deliverables, and effectively estimating and measuring progress.

Key Points

  • Identify the project management processes
  • Create a scope document
  • Schedule project activities
  • Estimate and allocate resources
  • Control project progress
  • Conduct a post-project review

HRD540- Proofread Like a Pro

Proofreading is more than just rereading what has been written. Good proofreaders can identify mistakes and improve the quality of writing even under tight deadlines. By using numerous in-class exercises, this workshop will teach you proven tips and techniques to perfect your documents. You will learn how to:

  • Use several successful proofreading strategies
  • Proofread for overall coherence and organization
  • Spot and correct the most common mechanical errors

HRD680- Recruiting & Hiring Great Staff for Northwestern

Organized around Northwestern's seven-step recruitment process, this workshop provides great tools and resources for expediting the hiring process and making good hiring decisions.

Key Points

  • Navigating Northwestern's recruitment and hiring process
  • Opening and posting a position
  • Advertising and networking
  • Screening candidate resumes
  • Preparing for and conducting interviews and phone screening
  • Hiring and onboarding new employees

HRD965- Transitioning From Peer to Manager

One of the most difficult career transitions can occur when one assumes management responsibility over a set of former peers. Overnight, the ground rules change and a variety of conflicts and challenges can emerge. This half-day workshop is designed to help address the boundary issues that crop up, and the competition that sometimes lingers long after one is promoted. We will discuss the best way to prepare for some of these potential problems, and will help participants deal with any unique situations they may have encountered as they try to establish the right tone for their leadership.

HRD545- Writing Compelling Employee of the Year Nominations

Is there someone in your department who goes above and beyond his or her normal duties, is dedicated and effective, and deserves to be recognized? Has he or she worked full time at Northwestern for three or more continuous years? If you've answered yes to both those questions, then this class is for you. In one lunch-time session, you will learn how to write an Employee of the Year Nomination that is both specific and meaningful.

By the end of the class, you will be able to:

  • Make sure your candidate is qualified
  • Identify what makes a successful submission
  • Use concrete examples to make your case
  • Write a clear, concise, and compelling submission

HRD520- Writing Difficult Messages

Rejecting an applicant, denying a request, issuing an apology, or responding to a complaint can be delicate. A masterfully written letter or memo can build goodwill or, at the very least, minimize negative feelings. This workshop will teach successful ways to approach difficult correspondence and communicate bad news tactfully.

Key Points

  • Decide what and how much to say
  • Choose the appropriate tone and style
  • Soften a negative message but get the point across
  • Say no and still maintain goodwill
  • Choose when and how to deliver the message
  • Write five different types of difficult messages

HRD530- Writing for Results: Effective Letters, Memos & E-mail Messages

At the least, poorly written letters, memos, and e-mail message waste time and cause miscommunication. At worst, they are not read at all. This workshop will teach participants to organize and write strong, action-oriented business correspondence to get the reader's attention and the desired results.

Key Points

  • Analyze your audience and define your purpose
  • Effectively organize your ideas and information
  • Choose the appropriate tone and style
  • Write strong opening and closing paragraphs
  • Reduce rambling and get to the point right away
  • Use format and type to emphasize your main ideas
  • Revise and edit for overall organization and coherence

HRD555- Writing for the Web: Introduction

Writing for the web isn't as simple as putting your handbook, brochure or lesson plan online. This hands-on workshop teaches the specific strategies needed to get your message across online.

Key Points

  • Write for typical web users who scan instead of read
  • Use the right tone for this immediate and informal medium
  • Repackage institutional language and marketing speak
  • Prune your site of unnecessary content
  • Write for higher search engine rankings
  • Make key information prominent and links visible
  • Keep user needs at the forefront of your mind as you write

HRD565- Writing for the Web: Intermediate

If you know the basics of web writing but need some assistance on a particularly thorny page or section from your site, this workshop is for you!

In a small-group setting, you will receive suggestions and work through problems facing your online content. You will also hone your editorial skills by assessing and providing suggestions for the online content examples submitted by fellow workshop participants.

Prior to the workshop, participants will submit up to three webpages for instructor and group review. The submissions must be from a University-related site. If you submit more than one web page for review, please note that additional pages will be assessed as time allows.