Brandon's Blog: Putting a Smile in the Workplace
Flag Football

July 25, 2014

University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page,, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.

There is obviously tremendous value in creating a great workplace environment. An organization with a strong culture needs to have clear guiding principles and embrace a common purpose as it strives to achieve challenging goals.

Organizations that have a strong and healthy culture make sure the guiding principles and aspirational vision are integrated into everything that is done -- hiring decisions, communication, recognition, celebration, and the way they create positive energy. And if you have a career in athletics, you can generate a lot of positive energy!

To further our guiding principle of being a "great place to work," an important -- and descriptive -- Smile Committee was created. The committee's job is to draw on the skills and interests of a broad cross-section of the U-M Athletic Department to create activities of fun and importance. And they are doing a great job!

This past Tuesday (July 22) at the University of Michigan Golf Course, the annual Athletic Department Team Outing was held. More than 140 athletic team members played in a fun, golf scramble event, but what do we provide for the non-golfers? Family activities and a barbeque dinner for all U-M Athletic Department team members have been added over the past few years. The result is that we now bring together more team members and their families than we have in the past. It is a special day.

Like the annual Athletic Department Team Outing, each Smile Committee event scheduled throughout the year is planned to help our team members learn more about each other, their families and create positive energy within the department.

One of the first activities our Smile Committee created was a day with the women's rowing team. It was a chance for our team members to interact with the student-athletes and coaches and find out more about the sport and what it takes to compete.

Nearly 50 Athletic Department team members travelled to Belleville Lake to get a first-hand look at the Michigan Boathouse, take part in some rudimentary workouts, and then take to the water in one of the Michigan shells (boats) to find out how everyone must work together as a team to create a fast (and upright) boat team. (At times, "upright" was a challenge!)

Then the Smile Committee expanded the clinic idea to include field hockey, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball and golf.

Athletic Department families are also extremely important to our workplace culture, and the Smile Committee creates events to make those individuals feel part of their bigger family. The Holiday Party and the Halloween Trick-or-Treating for the children of the U-M Athletic Department team members are just two of the annual events that we all look forward to.

The Smile Committee knows how hard the U-M Athletic Department Team members work and the long hours demanded in their profession. They will come up with new ideas to bring smiles to our teammates and their families to remind them how much they are appreciated.

Our entire Athletic Department team also knows how hard the Smile Committee works. I'd like to recognize Katy Hepner, Lee Roberts, Wanda Smith, Jake Stocker, Ashley Korn and Terri Jan along with all the facility workers and the extended "helpers" who volunteer their time as well to help set and clean up. All of you are a driving force behind our Athletic Department team engagement, performance and, ultimately, our success at making Michigan Athletics a great place to work.

We greatly appreciate your willingness to go beyond the call of duty to create "wow" experiences for our department team members.

Thank you and Go Blue!

Smile Committee Activities

  • Annual Golf Outing & BBQ
  • Holiday Party
  • Under the Lights Flag Football Game
  • World Cup Soccer Watch Party and BBQ
  • Volleyball Clinic
  • Soccer Clinic
  • Lacrosse Clinic
  • Rowing Clinic
  • Golf Clinic
  • March Madness Watch Party at the Stadium
  • Egg Hunt and Flying Pancake Breakfast
  • Ice Cream Socials
  • Good Luck Video for Softball Team
  • Maize and Blue Pep Rally Luncheon
  • 12 Days of Giving, including volunteering at Food Gatherers, donation collections to benefit Alpha House, SOS Community and Humane Society, writing holiday cards to soldiers

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