L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



The First Supervisors and Managers Bootcamp Created a Safe and Interactive Learning Experience

The Summer 2019 Supervisors and Managers Bootcamp graduates at Maymont in Richmond, Virginia
The Summer 2019 Supervisors and Managers Bootcamp graduates at Maymont in Richmond, Virginia

By Sherida Davis-Bryan

Being a supervisor can be challenging, rewarding, frustrating, and amazing all in one day. Supervision of others requires constant hat-switching from coach to manager to cheerleader and more. The energy and skills necessary to swing from one role to the other are key to being successful and building a high functioning team. The Performance Management Group (PMG) within the Center for Public Policy at VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs created the Supervisors and Managers Bootcamp (SMB) to help supervisors, managers, and project managers tackle their days armed with relevant knowledge and practical ideas.

For decades, PMG has provided an environment for leaders, managers, and supervisors of today and tomorrow to examine and enhance their abilities as thinkers and decision makers. Adding to PMG’s principal line of professional development experiences, the SMB generated a week long, safe space for 19 ambitious supervisors and managers to engage in an experiential journey that contained a self-assessment, rich discussion, peer coaching, and collaborative projects.

The structure of the week-long SMB lead participants down a path of discovery; moving from an assessment and reflections on their own choices and capabilities to considering how to use their strengths and shore up other areas to maneuver the unpredictable world of leading others. The week offered an in-depth review of performance management with scenarios and candid conversations about current supervisory struggles with the group offering sage advice and poignant questions. Team exercises ranged from working through questions, to creating structures together, to not only discuss team dynamics but feel them in action and reflect on them. Ultimately, the week culminated in a range of new insights and a distinct feeling of connectedness with everyone in the room.

We are thrilled to add this new workshop for supervisors and managers. We wanted to build a safe space for new and experienced leaders to share with and learn from one another while enhancing their ability to navigate the world of leading others. The week is filled with a range of exercises involving groups and generous helpings of self-reflection. We are committed to lifelong learning and SMB allows another avenue for supervisors at various points in their careers; from the long-term supervisor who isn’t quite ready to move to our other offerings to the one who needs a refresher and revitalization to keep doing their important work.

The class ended with the group planning a reunion and a walking club of those who work in close proximity. The experience surpassed anything we could have imagined. The authenticity and supportive conversations were stupendous and essential to the process.

“Overall, I loved the interaction with new people and a chance to get away from the monotony of my everyday work life. This was a very good experience. The inclusion of all the various activities and thinking exercises, to the egg drop that was very fun and the impromptu speaking that made me more aware of self,” reflected a participant and graduate of SMB which is held at the Maymont Environmental Education Center & West Terrace in Richmond, VA.

When asked for thoughts or opinions of the week as a whole, one participant and graduate noted, “There were so many things. If I had to narrow it to one specific topic it would be the effective delegation session. The most valuable thing I learned was to be clear and specific about what your delegating. Role playing on this topic opened my eyes to why I found delegating so difficult.”  Another participant shared, “This is one of the best classes I have attended. Mainly because of the practical examples and the discussions. I learned a lot from my classmates. The instructor was pretty terrific also. She was spontaneous and recognized when she needed to spend more time on certain topics than others.”

“We are thrilled to integrate this new program with our other experiences offered at PMG. Thank you to this inaugural SMB class for showing interest and curiosity to join the first session. We are happy with the energy and all of Sherida’s hard work to implement the first Supervisors and Managers Bootcamp,” said James Burke, PhD, Director of the Performance Management Group.

“Sherida, who has been a wonderful addition to the PMG team, had the creative vision to construct and implement an interactive program that received high remarks from everyone in the inaugural class. PMG is excited to continue to offer this program to complement our Professional Development experiences,” said Linda Pierce, MBA, Associate Director of the Performance Management Group.

Graduates of the Summer 2019 Supervisors and Managers Bootcamp include:

  • Talya Brown, Disability Determination Services
  • Rachel Cuervo, Disability Determination Services
  • Joseph Cummins, Department of Elections
  • Jessica Eldridge, Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
  • Monica Eley, Department for Aging & Rehabilitative Services
  • Betsy Evans, State Corporation Commission
  • Brian Foran, Christopher Newport University
  • Jessica Hendrickson, Department of General Services
  • Theresa Hunter, Virginia Department of Fire Programs
  • Brian Lawson, Virginia Tax
  • Trieste Lockwood, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Kim Minor, Virginia Department of Elections
  • La'Shawn Reid, Virginia Lottery
  • Tabitha Saunders, Virginia Victims Fund
  • Karen Thomas, Department of Elections
  • Helen Vines, Virginia Department of Social Services
  • Justin Wallace, Virginia Department of Health
  • Scott Weaver, Virginia Retirement System
  • Penny Williams, Department of Accounts


Additional Professional Development Opportunities at Performance Management Group

SMB is among several professional development programs offered by the Performance Management Group at the Wilder School:

  • The Virginia Executive Institute (VEI) is a 10-day program that provides a dynamic forum for leaders to be part of an impressive network of state executives who have committed to developing their leadership strengths and becoming change agents for Virginia's future. VEI is the principal executive educational program with more than 1,400 distinguished leader graduates including cabinet secretaries, agency heads, and other directors.
  • The Commonwealth Management Institute (CMI) is a five-day program that focuses on professional development for managers in state government. The institute promotes the exchange of information, the development of creative ideas, and cooperation and future collaboration among program participants.
  • The Virginia Government Leadership Summit (VGLS) is a 4 day event that fosters a different framework that focuses on conversation, reading, reflection, writing, and self-development. This program is for graduates of VEI and CMI.
  • The Experienced Supervisor's Institute (ESI) is a three-day program for forward-thinking supervisors, managers, and project leaders. This class helps build the necessary competencies that will move participants beyond the role of a managing supervisor to becoming an influential leader. This program focuses on advanced supervision tools/tips and an introspective look at what it takes for Supervisors and their team to succeed in good and challenging climates.
  • Fundamentals for Supervisors (FFS) is a three-day program that provides essential skills required by those new to supervising the work of others, leading project teams, or who have not received prior supervisory training. The goal of this program is to increase an individual’s performance as a supervisor and to provide practical tools to enhance staff performance.

Learn More

For more information about these programs, contact:

pmg@vcu.edu or (804) 828-8845 or www.pmg.vcu.edu