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Making Workplaces Work for Everyone with Ultimate Medical Academy’s Nicole Anzuoni & Crystal Lauderdale (Ep. #53)

The BetterManager Team
Building Better Managers Podcast Episode 53 - Nicole Anzuoni & Crystal Lauderdale

Building Better Managers Podcast Episode #53:  Making Work Work for Everyone with Ultimate Medical Academy’s Nicole Anzuoni & Crystal Lauderdale

The way we work together has changed in profound ways over the past two-plus years. Making the most of this moment means more than simply “getting back to the office.” On the Building Better Managers podcast, we’re always excited to spotlight strategies, tools, and tips that organizations and leaders can model to create positive and healthy work environments.

In this episode, we’re joined by Nicole Anzuoni and Crystal Lauderdale of the Ultimate Medical Academy, to discuss how they’ve worked to foster unity, energy, and excitement, and engage its 1,800-plus member geographically-dispersed team. Nicole and Crystal share concrete strategies, ideas, and takeaways from programs focused on an array of areas including Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, promoting cultural continuity, mental wellness, and manager coaching and support.

In this episode:

Meet Nicole & Crystal

  • Nicole Anzuoni is Executive Vice President, Chief Legal & People Officer, and Corporate Secretary at Ultimate Medical Academy, where she oversees UMA’s People & Culture division including its legal, human resources, facilities, talent acquisition and organizational wellness teams.
  • Crystal Lauderdale is Director of Communications & Public Relations at Ultimate Medical Academy, overseeing the institution’s internal communications, media relations, social media and community involvement.

Ultimate Medical Academy's Mission

  • Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) is a non-profit higher education institution whose mission is to equip and empower adult learners to excel in health care careers. They've been in operation for almost 30 years, with more than 10,000 students mostly online across the country, over 70k graduates and 1800 team members.
  • They primarily serve adult learners who have been in the workforce for some time, and they're usually balancing childcare, a job, other home responsibilities, and trying to go to school to improve their lives as well as the lives of their families and future generations.
  • They take pride in providing an individualized approach so learners can feel supported in receiving education that might be different than what they last experienced the last time they were in school. They understand that folks need additional and individualized attention to get through this as they balance everything in their hectic lives.

Meeting Hybrid Workplace Challenges

  • UMA is just one of a great many organizations that are supporting a hybrid, mostly remote team. They have found some truly effective ways of keeping their team members engaged.
  • The most important thing is to have the communication approach that if someone else has done something that's worked, let's share it and spread it through the organization. The purpose of life is not money, it's not titles - the purpose in life is to gain wisdom and share it with others.
  • Committing to team member success is one of their core values, and with a global pandemic on the horizon, when the only way to keep everybody safe was to send them home to work remotely, it was not difficult to make the right decision.
  • How does that translate for UMA going forward? With a very vibrant workplace culture (when you walked into the buildings, people were visibly excited to be there to be with each other), how to recreate it in a hybrid/remote environment?
  • One of the first things they did was to create a cultural continuity committee. To take that culture and ensure that it could translate into a remote environment. They gathered team members from across the organization, all departments, and developed a series of different initiatives and activities to keep people connected.
  • Here are just a few of the effective things they implemented:
    - Spotlighting team members with short fun videos
    - Having luncheons with executives and other leaders allowing team members to bring their own questions about whatever they wanted to talk about
    - A hub of remote working resources that people could access
    - How to entertain your kids - where to go in a safe way to to get out of your house during COVID
    - A wellness and mental health hub, making sure that they had mental health resources available was very important to us.
  • They also created an award called One UMA - for team members that embody that sense of unity that brings us and keeps us all together.

Takeaways/Next Steps

  • Your team members are your most important asset, so how do we get people to stay? Why would people want to stay with you?
  • The Golden Rule, that we treat people the way we would like to be treated, is an excellent starting point, but we need to nuance that, because I might not want to be treated the way you want to be treated!
  • Work to understand our team members so well that you know how each one prefers to be communicated with. Some may not like to be recognized in a public setting, they would prefer if you communicate with them on a one on one basis that they've done a good job. A different team member may prefer to hear from their leader in a public setting that they've done a good job.
  • And another team member might really cares about career progression - we need to make sure that we can show a career path for this person.
  • Use The Platinum Rule: Find out and treat people the way they want to be treated!
  • Read the book Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, the NY restauranteur, who focuses on hospitality as a business concept. It's not that "the customer's always right," that's not enough for the customer to be right - you can't even treat your customers right until your team members believe in what you're doing, feel valued, feel that they can be seen & heard, and do their best work to serve your customers.

Downloads & Resources

Follow Nicole on LinkedIn here, Crystal on LinkedIn here, and the UMA at UltimateMedical.edu, LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter.

Subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform!

Check out our blog articles on Leadership here.

Nicole Anzuon

Nicole Anzuoni is Executive Vice President, Chief Legal & People Officer, and Corporate Secretary at Ultimate Medical Academy, where she oversees UMA’s People & Culture division including its legal, human resources, facilities, talent acquisition and organizational wellness teams. 

Nicole’s work supports more than 1,800 UMA team members who in turn support more than 10,000 students, more than 72,000 graduates and healthcare partners nationwide. Under her leadership, UMA has implemented and grown effective programs focused on key areas such as cultural continuity in times of change; mental wellness; diversity, equity and inclusion; and manager support.

Prior to her work with UMA, Nicole practiced corporate law at two leading firms in New York. She holds an A.B. from Harvard University in Government and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. In 2019, the Tampa Bay Business Journal named Anzuoni a Top Corporate Counsel honoree.

Crystal Lauderdale

Crystal Lauderdale is Director of Communications & Public Relations at Ultimate Medical Academy, overseeing the institution’s internal communications, media relations, social media and community involvement.

Crystal and her team use an ever-expanding toolkit of written, visual and interactive strategies to inform, engage and unite more than 1,800 members of Team UMA working across the country. Crystal also oversees UMA’s community involvement which includes volunteerism, philanthropy and community partnerships. Giving back to its communities is a big part of UMA’s team culture and exemplifies its commitment to creating a “Ripple Effect of Care.”

Prior to joining UMA, Crystal held management and leadership positions with organizations such as the New York Times Company, Aol, Florida Polytechnic University and global consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal. She holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California, an MBA from the University of Florida and is a graduate of the Leadership Tampa class of 2015.

Episode Transcript
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