UCAR Communications

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One—no, two—new Delphi coordinators

When UCAR president Rick Anthes found out that the runoff election for Delphi Service coordinator had ended in a dead heat between HR’s Nancy Norris Wade and ACD’s Teresa Rivas, he thought about ways to break the tie, such as holding another election or flipping a coin. But then he turned to a plan voiced by his assistant, Susan Montgomery-Hodge: inviting the two popular candidates to share the Delphi position.

“After all, an equal number of people liked the two candidates, so everybody should be happy with this solution,” explains Rick, who announced the election results on 25 July. “Sharing the workload will also make it easier on each coordinator.”

The joint election of Nancy and Teresa to a four-year term as Delphi Service coordinator capped an unusually dramatic staffwide election. It was touched off when Janet Evans, who had served as coordinator since 1999, stepped down in the spring to focus on her new position as manager of budget operations in the NCAR Budget and Planning Office. Three employees were nominated to replace her: Nancy, Teresa, and IT systems administrator Diane Norman.

The first surprise came in early July, when none of the three candidates received a majority of votes. This led to a runoff between the top two vote getters, Teresa and Nancy. Then came the announcement that the runoff had culminated in a 210-210 tie.

When Nancy got the news from Rick about the tie vote, she immediately welcomed his plan to share the position. “I think that’s perfect,” she says.

Teresa’s first thought when Rick told her about the tie was, “Oh, no, not another runoff!” But when Rick suggested a sharing arrangement, she thought it was a great solution.

How it works

The Delphi Service coordinator is a volunteer position designed to foster communication between staff and management. Any employee can write to the Delphi Service on a confidential basis about a UCAR, NCAR, or UOP policy and be assured that the appropriate person in management will answer the question. Most Delphi questions and answers are printed in SN Monthly and archived on the Delphi Service Web site (www.ucar.edu/delphi).

The Delphi Service, named after the site of the famous oracle in Greek mythology, began in 1974 as a way for staff to raise questions about institution policies. Over the years, hundreds of Delphi questions have been submitted, providing

a unique perspective on our organization. Topics have ranged from recycling and snow removal to drug testing, radiation from desktop monitors, and (more recently) the use of water during times of drought.

All Delphi questions are submitted to management without any names or identifying information. The questions and the questioners’ identities are kept in a locked file. Once a question is satisfactorily resolved, the name of the questioner is destroyed.

With Nancy and Teresa sharing the Delphi duties, staffers may submit questions to either one, or to both simultaneously. Directions for submitting questions are given on the Delphi Web site. Nancy and Teresa will discuss the questions with each other, but the one who receives the question won’t reveal the name of the questioner to the other, thereby further cementing the confidentiality of the process.

Nancy stresses that staff should take advantage of the Delphi Service by submitting questions. UCAR is rare among large organizations in having such a confidential process for staff to question management. “We both want to encourage people to use the service,” Nancy says. “It’s a really important thing that the organization values employees enough to give them this venue.”

Adds Teresa: “It’s kind of humbling to feel that people trust you that much, and I’m certainly going to do everything I can to make sure that’s not going to be misplaced.” •David Hosansky


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Crisis phone line available to staff

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