Congratulations to Jeff Thomas, associate director of customer support, who has received the Superior Supervisor award as part of KU Medical Center's C.A.R.E. employee recognition program.
Under his direction, customer support provides PC and help desk services for KU Medical Center and The University of Kansas Physicians. Jeff and his staff manage approximately 5,600 PC and laptop systems and provide the first point of contact for customers. In addition to resolving computer problems, they also develop operating system images for PCs and Macs, administer software application deployments, software security patches, and much more. Jeff and his team are considered problem solvers.
Although Jeff supervises 19 employees and oversees a department that could be perceived as a highly stressful environment because it touches every area of the campus, Jeff is always cool, calm, and collected.
"I try not to get too excited," he explained. "You don't need a lot of excitement in a crisis situation. My motto is to deal with the facts and sort through the details to get to the root of the problem so we can help our customers.
"We try to plan ahead to avoid the Chicken Little syndrome where the 'sky is falling' all the time. Our goal is to develop the best standard and repeatable support processes possible to avoid down time and minimize those crisis situations whenever possible."
This motto is also one that he uses to empower his employees.
"I have an open door policy and encourage my staff to stop by whenever they need me," he said. "I will provide guidance, but the staff is then expected to execute from there. I try to help them understand a problem by stepping through the process and assessing the facts.
"I also empower them to handle situations on their own. If they need to escalate an issue, I want them to feel comfortable doing that. Part of my job is to remove the barriers so my staff doesn't have to go through a chain of command to get things done, and I only get involved as needed."
Removing barriers was one characteristic that was mentioned in Jeff's nomination. So were mentoring and development, team building, professional integrity and innovation.
"Jeff is an incredible manager," said Robert Pavitt, technical support. "He is always available to talk if you need him, and he reaches out to his staff on a regular basis to communicate on upcoming changes, training, and projects. It is great to have a director who is a solid and stable foundation no matter what changes occur."
"Jeff has a relentless focus on customer service," added Jameson Watkins, director of customer innovation and support and Jeff's manager. "That focus pushes his entire team to put themselves in the shoes of those who need IT help."
As great as his director and staff think he is, Jeff looks at it as just doing his job.
"This nomination was a total surprise," Jeff said. "The things you do for your team I see as expected, but to be recognized by one of your staff for doing what you're supposed to do is really special. I am truly honored and humbled."
The personal side of Jeff
Born and bred in Wyandotte County, this original Kansas native loves to hunt treasures. Attending auctions and estate sales offers him a break from all the technology and work-related stress.
Jeff also enjoys fishing and spending time with his wife, Deborah, and high school-aged daughters, Rachel and Marisa. Jeff's dream vacation would be a trip to Europe, particularly Italy, Greece, Spain, and the Mediterranean regions because he is intrigued by all the history and beauty.
Be sure and nominate a colleague for the 2nd Quarter Employee of the Quarter. The deadline is June 15.