This is an opportunity for readers of this newsletter to anonymously ask me a question about any aspect of student recruitment, leadership, and professional or personal development. Each week I’ll post my answer for everyone to read.
Q. An Director of Admissions asks:
“Can you identify ways to build morale within your admissions team?”
A. Thank you for your question! This is such an important topic. Let me start by saying that without having additional context about you and your staff, it’s hard for me to truly give you the best, personalized advice.
Having said that, here are some key points I always try to make when I have a similar type of discussion with someone in a position of leadership. And let me reiterate that I’m willing to dive deeper into this subject with you (or anyone else reading this) if you’d like. All you have to do is email, call or text me. My contact information is at the bottom of the newsletter each week.
- Truly get to know your staff 1-on-1 and show them you care. This is by far the most important point I’m going to make. You need to understand why they got into the admissions profession; what motivates them; what their strengths and weaknesses are (not just your opinion but also their own opinion of themselves); and what their short and long-term goals are. Until you have this kind of information it’s hard to help them grow.
- Whatever kind of leader you are, be consistent. Too many leaders say one thing and do another. There has to be consistency if you expect to build trust and truly get buy-in from your team. They don’t all have to like the way you lead, but they need to trust you and feel that you care and have their best interests in mind.
- Communicate clearly. Define individual roles for each staff member. When you ask someone to do something extra, explain the why behind your ask.
- Invest in training. I’m firmly convinced that one of the bigger factors behind the high turnover rate in college admission offices is lack of professional development opportunities.
- Make sure your team understands why the job they do is so important. Explain the bigger picture, and when it’s needed, use student success stories to remind individual staff members of the role they played.
- Goal setting with a purpose and consistent follow-up.
- Giving your team ownership will create a more positive work environment.
- Recognize achievements both privately and publicly (not just privately). And not just the big moments. Small achievements are what generally lead to those big moments.
- Team building activities. Whenever you feel it’s needed, organize opportunities for everyone to relax and recharge their batteries.