L&D Manager Spotlight - Darren Hale

Darren Hale, 

Interim Executive Director, Construction and Facilities

1. Describe your role for UT.  

I have the privilege of being the interim leader of the Construction and Facilities team who build and maintain the university’s facilities and landscape, striving to make UT Austin the highest impact public university in the world. We are roughly 1,000 dedicated professionals who are the caretakers of the “here” in What starts here changes the world.  

2. What was the most important lesson you learned as a new manager?

Accountability for both me and my team. As the leader of the team, I am responsible for the outcomes for every task they’re assigned and for their actions. When the team succeeded, I learned to give them credit. When we didn’t meet expectations, I took responsibility for missing the mark and identified things that I could have done differently. I would also get feedback from the team on how we could have done better. If necessary, I privately hold team members accountable and coach them to be successful next time.

3. What advice do you have for managers to help develop their team?

To help develop their team, managers should prioritize creating an open avenue of communication by listening. It is also crucial to work together to develop a clear vision that everyone buys into, as this promotes alignment and fosters a sense of shared purpose. Additionally, setting clear expectations and holding team members accountable is essential for driving progress and maintaining focus. Finally, celebrating successes, no matter how small, is a powerful motivator that reinforces positive behavior and helps to build a strong team culture.

4. Why is learning in the workplace important?

I believe in continuous improvement and a growth mindset. I develop teams to never settle for the status quo and to strive to innovatively improve how we deliver services to UT. One way to improve is through learning. Whether that is through refreshing/enhancing current skills or by learning new skills or different ways of doing things, I find I always have opportunities to learn and progress. With a growth mindset, I’m always looking to improve. In addition to more formal learning, I’m also learning from those around me by watching them or discussing how to address certain challenges. I also utilize expert resources such as Human Resources for personnel challenges.

5. What have you recently learned, what are you currently learning about, or how are you developing yourself as a professional?

I recently started meeting monthly with a friend from a previous job to talk about leadership challenges and to act as a sounding board. We decided to read through “Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek. I wanted to find someone outside UT to get a different perspective, but I also wanted to find someone that I trust, respect, and shares similar values.