If you’ve attended an employee recognition event, employee orientation, or a professional development course, chances are you’ve met Alexis Crean, organization and staff development specialist in the UConn Health Department of Human Resources. And, chances are her role runs counter to your preconceived notions about HR. Alexis has been with UConn Health for 23 years, the last 19 in HR. She lives in East Hampton with her husband and two teen daughters.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities in UConn Health HR that perhaps historically are not associated with human resources in general?
I know that this might sound cliché but I really do believe that Human Resources is about what we can do to help the organization, and its people, become more successful. I have been the lucky recipient of working for some great individuals who have helped me shape my career and that is why I choose to give back every chance I get. I have found in my 23 years with the organization that one of the best ways to do that is to build strong relationships. It’s about having a one-on-one conversation with the new manager who isn’t getting the most out of her team, and then helping her to get more out of that team. It’s about helping employees understand their role in the future and why “our” organization values them. Yes, we all have to make sure that we are abiding by the rules and regulations but as an HR professional I always keep the person I am serving front and center, giving him or her the best I can offer.
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
Favorite place to visit:
I love going to NYC any chance I get
Famous person you’d most like to meet:
Q: How do you make your unique role in HR your own?
My mom always told me, “Bien predica quien bien vive”—“Lead by example.” That’s why I always keep a look out for ways that we can show employees that Human Resources really does care and that it’s not just talk. So if I can make an employees’ experience that much the better by offering a meaningful recognition event, or providing compassion during a difficult time, I am your person. People often say, “I wish I had your job because it looks like so much fun,” and I respond, “Thanks so much for saying so, and know that it is done with much thoughtfulness and attention to detail,” because I enjoy giving back to a community that I respect so much.
Q: What is something about UConn Health HR that you think is generally misunderstood?
To employees, HR could be the person they see only when something goes wrong. Yes, we‘re there when someone gets fired, during exit interviews or disputes, so it’s easy to see why Human Resources is commonly misunderstood. In my experience, being an HR professional is a constant balancing act of being an employee advocate, maintaining compliance, and acting in the best interest of the organization, ensuring that employees get recognized and offering resources to assist in developing their work and life balance.
Q: What do you find most rewarding about your role?
I am especially proud of the gift I have of visual storytelling. From the age of 5 years old I have been telling stories through pictures. I never thought that my passion would transcend into my daily work. It is so rewarding for me to take people’s messages and create a presentation or a visual that inspires understanding, action and change.
Q: Anyone who’s worked with you knows you always bring such positive energy. How do you maintain that so consistently?
Thank you, that is very kind of you to say! I subscribe to the Positive Attitudinal Effect. Meaning, the greatest thing about attitude is that it is the one thing we all have the ability to control. It’s a choice. You could say that my positive attitude is my secret sauce. A positive attitude has a positive impact on my productivity, work quality, service, innovation, and the emotional bond I feel with my colleagues, customers and family. It’s what I am trying to teach my daughters to practice, every day.
Q: What’s something you like to do outside of work?
We love our community and proudly give back to it through our family charity, the Turkey Plunge, which has raised $166,000 over the last seven years for our local food bank. There is something very satisfying about bringing together people, have some fun and making a difference in people’s lives!