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She shines bright, helps resolve conflict

We all know there are thousands of behind-the-scenes movers and shakers at Purdue University. In our busy, day-to-day roles on campus it’s rare we think of the others in the trenches making things happen – that is, until we need help.

When it comes to helping employees, the Employee Relations department’s priority is assisting supervisors and employees with work-related situations they may encounter. Acting as the employee’s or supervisor’s connection, Employee Relations team members help maintain and manage employer-employee relationships.

At the helm of Purdue’s Employee Relations department is Sharon Williams, interim employee relations manager. With 32 years of experience in Employee Relations, Williams has crafted her abilities and has had the opportunity to see a variety of different scenarios play out, making her a valuable resource for both employees and supervisors.

According to Williams, she enjoys working with the Extension office and in all 92 Indiana counties where there are offices, as well as with the great people on Purdue’s campus.

“I like working with employees and supervisors to give them the tools to help them be great at what they do,” she said. A tool that would help Williams in her own job would be her chosen superpower: reading minds.

As a life-long West Lafayette native, third-generation Purdue graduate and lover of Purdue sports, Williams feels right at home on campus and proudly explains that she “bleeds black and gold.” Therefore Williams takes on each day with the hope of being able to manage the ever-changing needs of the employees and managers on campus. The areas that Williams supports are the executive offices, Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Public Affairs, Enrollment Management, as well as Teaching and Learning.

Like most of us on campus know, a normal day doesn’t really exist. The same goes for Williams; within her realm of responsibilities there isn’t a normal, either. Things can and do quickly change with employees’ needs that mandate the assistance of Williams or one of her co-workers in Employee Relations.

They handle the good, the bad and the unexpected. While the majority of the work done by Williams and her team is positive, there are situations that arise, of course, that are more challenging.

“It is difficult when a situation I am working with ends in a termination,” Williams said. “I like to think that everyone can be successful, but sometimes the job the person is in is just not the right fit at that particular point in time.”

Williams tries to handle each situation with respect and compassion for those involved, knowing each person and situation is different and each is an opportunity to learn.

“I spend my days working with employees and supervisors to help resolve conflicts,” she said. I also do a lot of training to be proactive in trying to avoid those conflicts.  Much of my time is spent listening to people’s concerns and helping them figure out what options and alternatives will work best to help them resolve their concerns.”

When Williams isn’t at work assisting employees and managers resolve conflict, you can usually find her spending time with her granddaughter or watching Purdue sports.

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