Workplace Coaches Help Employees Help Themselves

Posted: June 28, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Probst

John has been struggling for days over a conflict with a co-worker. He isn’t sure how to deal with the problem. Should he confront his colleague or let it slide?

The new Workplace Coaching Program sponsored by Human Resources and staffed by trained Mason employees may be just the ticket to help him with this dilemma.

“The program provides Mason faculty and staff with a safe place to discuss their problems,” says Daniel Taggart, employee relations specialist and administrator of the program. “It’s a confidential way for employees to meet with someone who can help them to clearly identify the issue they are facing and develop options to solve the problem.”

The employee relations team, housed in Human Resources and Payroll, sponsored the intensive training for coaches in March. The coaches are members of both academic and non-academic departments at Mason. Coaches help employees understand both what they expect of others and what others expect of them. They can also serve as a sounding board to help employees process their thoughts.

The program has been in the making for three years. Patricia Donini, employee relations director and deputy director for Human Resources and Payroll, and Linda Harber, associate vice president and chief human resources officer, formalized the coaching program to deal with nondisciplinary problems and give Mason employees a confidential outlet to voice their concerns.

“Coaching is the art of helping people help themselves,” says Julia Morelli, a trained coach who directs operations for Mason’s Capitol Connection. An important aspect of the program, she notes, is that coaches do not tell the individual what to do. Instead, coaches ask a series of questions and help faculty and staff reflect on their situation and develop options that work best for each particular problem.

“I’m very excited about the opportunities that are coming up because the program helps to represent the university in a consistent way,” says Stacey Remick-Simkins, a trained coach who is a program coordinator in the English Department. “It also allows the diverse group of coaches to network with one another.”

Remick-Simkins, who has participated in other types of coaching in the past, is a strong advocate for the program. She says she feels that finding ways to effectively address difficult situations develops better working relationships and helps to build better working environments.

Other workplace coaches are Carmen Rioux-Bailey, Carol Kaffenberger and Rick Brigham, College of Education and Human Development; Dan Taggart, DelShahn Kaplan, Ian Reynolds, Linda Harber and Pat Donini, Human Resources and Payroll; Deborah Kaplan, Department of English; Dolores Gomez-Moran, Student Academic Affairs; Jenny Verdaguer, Bachelor of Individualized Study; Kara Danner and Rose Pascarell, University Life; Kevin Barrett, University Police; Pam Patterson, Dean of Students; Robin Knies, Freedom Center; and Wendy Holt, Intercollegiate Athletics.

Workplace coaches are available on all campuses. To schedule a private appointment with an available coach, call Human Resources at 703-993-2600 or e-mail Taggart at or Donini at

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