The Professional Development Plan- A Window Into Your Future

Professional_Development_Kermit

Hey All! I’m actually back again- for two consecutive weeks in a row (don’t judge me- I know it’s been awhile)! And what on earth could I be back with at this busy time of the year for SAPros near and far? Why, the very key to your professional future- the professional development plan!

So why do I say with such confidence that having a PDP is the key to your professional future? For one, I’ll admit that I’m biased: I’m a planner- so much so that if there were an Overplanners Anonymous I’d not only be a member but I’d probably be planning the meetings (see what I did there?) so that’s definitely one reason I have one. It’s actually a problem. As someone who was raised to believe that a goal without a plan was just a dream, it just comes naturally. However, there’s a much more important reason that I created my own PDP and that I recommend doing one. Think about it- when you were in school- be it grade school or grad school- someone gave you the blueprint to get to the next level. A set of core classes, expertly designed syllabi, the full works – it’s incredibly helpful and if you do it right will give you the skills to get where you want to go, but in some ways it’s a handicap because the second you get out of grad school… it disappears. There’s no academic advisor or professor giving you an outline of what books to read, what conferences to go to, who to meet for coffee and discuss concepts with. Unless you have a supervisor who’s willing to pick up the slack (and with workloads increasing these days most can’t do this the way you’re used to), you’re on your own.

As a professional, the onus is on you to chart your own course- which at first can seem very daunting. However, if you take the time out of your busy schedule to do some reflection and thinking about what you want for the year and for the years to come, you can come up with a very useful tool that can be just as helpful to you as your academic educational plan. Developing your own PDP can be a great way to figure out what you want to do for the year and can be a great tool to present to a supervisor to help them figure out what they need to do to get you there. In my new role, I’ve asked my staff to develop their own PDPs using a template that I designed.

The Professional Development Plan- A Window Into Your Future

Every professional tends to have their own way of doing a PDP – I’m not going to claim that my way of organizing the information is the best but it definitely has worked for me in the past, so in an attempt to help folks who’ve never done this before out I’m sharing it below. Feel free to e-mail me, message me or comment below if you have questions.

 

GotDegrees’ Professional Development Plan “Master Recipe”:

  • Professional Philosophy: In order to figure out where you’re going, you need to think about where you’ve been and what effect those experiences have had on your personal approach to doing this work. The first step in determining your plan going forward is to think about what guides you as a student affairs professional- why do you do this work? What do you want to impart to students and to colleagues? What makes you get up in the morning and brave 100 degree temps in July and a foot of snow in January to get to the office?
  • What’s Your Endgame?: Once you know who you are in this field, it’s time to think broadly about where you want to be at the end of the time covered by your plan. For some of us, the endgame is another position- be it a move up or a lateral move across functional areas. For others, it’s building skills, knowledge or capacity in a current role – maybe getting more involved outside of your department, maybe becoming involved with a professional association, maybe even thinking about writing more. One way to think about this section that can be helpful is to take a look at job descriptions for the roles you’d like to have and pull out some of the responsibilities and requirements to use as a starting point for where you’d like to be. This section should be big picture- you’ll get more specific in the next section.
  • Specific Goals: The next step is to think about the details of your plan- what are the specific goals you want to achieve? Do you want to submit a program proposal for a conference? Get to know more about a different office on your campus? Prepare to take the GREs in anticipation of applying to a doctoral program? Whatever it is, I recommend keeping it simple and not having more than three or four specific goals. Developing SMART goals (more information on what this means here) is a good idea here because you want to be able to keep track of your progress throughout the period that you plan for. In addition to goals, you should think of a couple of objectives that spell out the steps you want to take to get to your goal- again, keep it simple and SMART whenever possible.
  • Other Information: After your personal philosophy, endgame and goals, you can go in a few different directions- the questions that I tend to ask myself and my team include:
    • What offices or departments do you want to work with or learn more about?
    • What auxiliary or collateral assignments do you want to work with in our office?
    • What conferences do you want to attend or present at?
    • What might you be looking for in terms or webinars or reading material?
    • Do you want to do more writing?
    • Might you be interested in taking a class at your institution or elsewhere?

The Professional Development Plan- A  Window Into Your Future

These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself- depending upon what you’re interested in doing, you might have interests that get covered here or that may be completely outside of what I’ve thought about. At the end of the day, this document is about you and your wants and needs, so don’t be afraid to tweak and change it to make it work for you.

I usually try to create a plan at the beginning of each academic year (ideally prior to the start of student staff training but it can easily be after) that covers the full year- obviously it doesn’t have to be set in stone and can change, but it’s good to go into the year with a plan so you can make decisions. I’d keep the plan’s scope limited to a year at most- you can decide to do one each semester if you like if you like something more short-term. As someone who loves all things technology but isn’t exactly a digital native per se, I like having hard copies up in my office to keep me grounded but usually keep plans electronically so I can refer back to old ones and see how I’ve grown over the years. Finally, you should share your plan with your supervisor if you believe it will be helpful for them- but make sure you’ve added any tasks or needs for your position if you do so they know those are priorities for you.

I won’t be bold enough to promise that doing a PDP will automatically get you the job of your dreams- if I had that power I would have put Miss Cleo, Walter Mercado, and every other psychic out of business years ago. However, I can say from personal experience that having a plan will take the guesswork out of figuring out professional development, which in the end can lead to the job you want anyway. In any event, it’s a useful tool that I highly recommend and enjoy using in my own practice – if you have time over the next few weeks (stop laughing/crying- I know you don’t and I don’t either), start working on one and let me know how it goes.

Enjoy your last few weeks of summer/your first few weeks of the new semester!

J

Yik, Yak, & All That: Reflections on #NASPA15, #DIVERI15 and Yik Yak

Scenes from New Orleans...
Scenes from New Orleans…

Welcome Back! I’ve been away from this space for a long time- two and a half weeks to be exact- but I promise that I have a legitimate reason. Over the past week, I’ve been to New Orleans and back for the NASPA 2015 International Convention, taken a quick trip to Cambridge, MA to attend an event at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and presented at the DIVE RI conference at URI, so this was definitely one of the times where I wasn’t in this space because I was busy living life in an effort to have more to say here. With that in mind, I want to take some time to talk about NASPA, my experience presenting at DIVE, and (because EVERYONE has talked about it at some point) the Yik Yak debacle at NASPA last week.

NASPA 15 Conference

NASPA

First of all, I couldn’t have been happier to be in New Orleans last week- the 40 degree hike in temperature and relative increase in general friendliness in the area (the South does beat the Northeast there…) was a great improvement from what I was dealing with at home so that made the pursuit of professional development easy. The opening session, which featured among other speakers Dr. Jennifer Arnold of “The Little Couple” and “Little People, Big World”, was phenomenal- I really appreciated her message of hope, perseverance, and resilience as a way of framing the idea of “Navigating With Courage.” As much as I did enjoy what was offered at NASPA ’15, I will say that I got even more out of getting to meet new colleagues and folks who’ve reached out to me as a result of my blog and Twitter activity than I did the sessions. That being said, there were a number of great sessions that I really enjoyed- a few highlights are below:

The Sessions

I usually go into conferences with a game plan of sessions I want to attend; this year I decided to be open to seeking out topics I hadn’t typically gone to see. The first was “Blogging Bravely: Thoughts, Tips and Advice from the Blogosphere”; for one, being able to meet fellow SAPros who are bloggers and whose work I’ve had the privilege to read like Paul Brown, Josie Ahlquist, Marci Walton, Kimberly White and Renee Dowdy was a great way to get the conference started. In addition, I really appreciated hearing questions from others who were either thinking about blogging, had recently started or in a couple of cases from folks who had been writing publically for years. Lots of important topics related to the art and science of blogging in student affairs came up- how do you give credit to others when writing? Navigate office and institutional politics when it comes to writing and being associated with your institution? Blend your personal and professional lives in one blog? I liked that the session was a discussion with excellent participation in the backchannel on Twitter as well- more than any other session I attended this year, the group in this one made really good use of social media and made an effort to continue the conversation after the session ended.

While I missed Melissa Harris-Perry’s session (I’m going to need conference planners not to put the keynote up against other presenters…. KTHXBAI.), I did attend a session that raised some really interesting thoughts for me entitled Roles For Men In Advancing Gender Equity and The Advancement of Women To Senior Leadership Positions in Higher Education. Led by Dr. Shaun Harper (who I’ve known since 2006 when I participated in one of his studies on young Black men in college), Dr. Hikaru Kozuma and Marc Christian, the session highlighted some of the ways that men in higher education intentionally or unintentionally perpetuate oppression and subjugation of female professionals and discussed what male allies can do to better support women in the field. Hearing that women made up less than 3% of the top paid athletic leadership on college campuses, among other details, was truly eye-opening. The presenting team were careful to highlight both that women didn’t need male saviors (hence the name change from Ensuring to Advancing Gender Equity) and that male privilege and power was not universal due to intersectionality (so men of color, gay men and trans men are not necessarily as powerful as White, heterosexual cis males), and encouraged group discussions where men and women were able to interact with each other and learn from each other as well as the presenters, which was incredibly helpful. As a professional who has worked in environments in Student Affairs that were predominantly female (including two with women in senior leadership positions), I think at times it’s been easy to think that this isn’t an issue; however after reflecting, I have to admit that this isn’t the norm everywhere. The divisions I’ve been in where women have been promoted were like that because the women had male allies who would support them and call out other men who were oppressive- behavior that is needed everywhere if we’re to see more women in leadership.

NOLA_2

I went to a couple of sessions that were specifically targeted towards Black SAPros, which is always really important for me at national conferences; as much as I love Region 1, we don’t necessarily get as many opportunities to do so regionally so I try to take advantage of the opportunity as much as possible when I get to the national level. Two sessions in particular (From Their Voices: How Black Administrators Manage Racism in Higher Education & Glass Ceilings or Mirrors?: Career Trajectory for Black SAPros) were great spaces to discuss the issues that Black SAPros face in particular. So many thoughts that have crossed my mind over the past few years were brought up in these sessions: deciphering whether or not incidents I’ve experienced were racism, figuring out whether or not I wanted to “do the dance” or “play the games” needed to move up in my career, and thinking about what the future held- advanced positions, Ph.D. programs, etc. Conversations about mentorship, networking, and giving back to grads and younger professionals came up in both sessions, as well as having the ability to use coded responses and thoughtful reactions to potential acts of systematic racism or microaggressions (as a trained social worker, I know that the words “Tell me more…” have WAY more power than you might think), and the energy of being in a room of predominantly Black professionals was definitely something I appreciated and didn’t even realized I was missing.

Finally, I had the privilege of attending sessions led by former supervisors (Movin’ On Up The Ladder of Student Affairs) and colleagues (Remedial (Social) Class Work: Supporting Students of Lower Socioeconomic Status) that were amazing as well. As someone who is eagerly seeking to move up to the next level of my career, I really appreciated hearing the USC ResLife team’s thoughts and their sharing the three levels of thinking (Blue Collar, Blueprint and Blue Sky) that professionals need to master at each level in order to be able to move up. The session of working with students across class lines was great in covering a topic that as a field we don’t necessarily do well enough despite claiming to do so.

Overall, the sessions were solid- a lot of great material that I felt like I could take back to my institution and share. This year felt like I went for more items that would be personally beneficial rather than for my department, but in personally benefiting I’m sure I’ll be able to support my team, my region and my colleagues more (at least that’s what I’m telling myself, so…)

DIVERI

Diversifying Individuals Via Education (DIVE RI)

If being a participant at NASPA was a treat, being able to present at the Diversifying Individuals Via Education (DIVE) conference at University of Rhode Island on Saturday was a real privilege. About eight weeks ago, I got an e-mail from the student leadership team inviting me to participate as a presenter for the conference, which according to their mission statement “seeks to promote intercultural competence and inclusion on college campuses through workshops and discussions.” I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting personal invites to present here, there and everywhere so when someone reaches out and I’m available, I’m going.

The conference was a great one- primarily organized by URI students, for URI students- and while I only was able to attend on Saturday morning when the bulk of the workshops were offered the schedule was packed with social and educational activities that looked great- a hair show, keynotes by Drs. Damon Williams and Marc Lamont Hill, and performances by student groups in addition to the sessions that I was present for. There were some great options on the schedule including sessions on the prison industrial complex, respectability politics, mentoring, white allyship, student activism and “post-racial” America.

My presentation was entitled “Underrepresented and Overwhelmed”- my focus was on the college mental health crisis and how it affects students of color in particular (presentation slides below- look for a post on this specific topic next week) and how others can help. Overall, I loved the part of the conference that I was able to attend- in particular a presentation entitled Blacklisted: The Influence of Racial Bias on Higher Education led by three White URI students was especially impressive and highlighted a great example of White allyship in action. DIVE RI was a great way to end the week, and I can’t thank the students who organized it enough for inviting me to speak!

The Great Yik Yak Debacle of 2015

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, we have to talk about this again. No, I won’t belabor the points made over and over and over again in the past week, but I wanted to consolidate what I thought at least once in this space. I’ll keep it brief and bulleted:

  • I’m still shocked about how much attention this actually received- an official statement from NASPA national headquarters, an article in the Chronicle, an impromptu session at the end of the conference all over what was likely the work of a small group of people (AT MOST) really was stunning. I will say that I am glad that it DID get attention because it exposed the fault lines in the SAPro community that we need to explore and manage.
  • Personally, I’m not shocked by any of what happened outside of this- WE ALL know that people engage in all of the behavior that got broadcasted on Yik Yak at conferences, and if anything it just proves that SAPros are themselves human. I think that at times we spend so much time telling each other that we are “on” all the time (a concept that if you read my post on busyness you know I don’t believe in) and that we have to be role models 25/8 that we forget that the best role model makes mistakes but knows how to acknowledge when they screw up and apologize. I’m a big proponent of treating my fellow professionals as well as I treat my students- and I really wonder if some of the comments and attitudes coming out would be focused towards students.
  • There’s a lot of conversation on whether or not going to a conference for work is a vacation or not, based primarily on the Yak that someone posted about NASPA being their only 4 days off. First off, if you take 4 days off a year, there’s a serious problem either with your vacation strategy or your institution’s vacation policy… I’ve gone back and forth with this one; on one hand, none of us would be there if we weren’t working in student affairs in some way (I’m guessing a student affairs conference isn’t a typical vacation spot). On the other hand, taking time off away from your institution with fellow professionals or grads DOESN’T mean you can’t have fun. Exploring a city, having a couple of drinks, going dancing… all things that normal adults do, even when at conferences. Getting trashed, engaging in unsafe behavior… not normal, and not OK. I’d say that I look at NASPA and similar events as working vacations- I relax, enjoy myself and socialize but I make sure that I get enough work done that I can feel good about doing the fun stuff. Balance, people… it’s not that hard.
  • I think we can all agree that the posts that highlighted sexual harassment, fat shaming and other blatantly offensive behavior were wrong, but in listening to and reading some of the responses to other posts we got to see how heteronormative, Judeo-Christian centric and self-righteous some of us can be at times. While I’m never an advocate for putting one’s dirty laundry out there, again I wonder if we are willing and able to give our fellow professionals the same space that we would give our students. Yes, they are professionals and are held to a higher standard- but sometimes we need to forget that even some standards are too high. Perfection and sainthood aren’t realistic expectations for anyone. Our field has a big problem in general with respectability politics and insecurity when compared to the academic side of the house in my opinion- and I’ve always been raised and taught that respect comes from within, so I’ve personally not felt like I needed to perform a certain role other than being a good person in general to win others’ favor.
  • Finally, I’m hopeful that this conversation won’t go into the storage boxes with our convention badges in the coming weeks, but that we as a field will seriously interrogate our understanding of professional ethics, appropriate use of social media, and effective ways of calling each other in rather than calling each other out. Time will tell, but if you didn’t like what you saw last week, moaning about the plight of our field will not help- being an active part of making change will.

That’s enough from me for now- I’ll be back in a few days with a new Phriday post; whether it will be PROTIPS or PHEATURES will depend upon how the rest of this week goes.

Until next time, be well and be the change you wish to see in the world (or in the field)!

J

 

 

Meetings: The Student Affairs Professional’s Greatest Nemesis?

Meetings: The Student Affairs Professional's Greatest Nemesis?

After taking time off from GotDegrees (partly because I needed to take time to live life in order to have something to write about, partly because I needed to take time to survive selection season), I’ve decided that I need to cut back on posts for a while- but not by much: Starting in March, I will be posting TWICE a weekon Tuesdays and Fridays. Every now and then I may post a few surprise pieces outside of the general schedule, but I feel like it’s a good idea for me to slow down so I don’t burn out and so I don’t burn you all out as readers.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Meetings_Too_Damn_High

What did you do between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM yesterday? If you’re currently working in any capacity, particularly if you’re working in student affairs, I’m willing to bet my next check that you spent at least a third of that time (maybe more) in meetings. Meetings with students, with your colleagues, with campus partners, parents, vendors, community stakeholders, supervisors, so on and so forth. Meetings to talk about projects, staff performance, collaborations, “learning opportunities” (read: any and every stupid stunt students can pull that result in conduct cases), etc. This is part of the work we do, and part of being a white collar professional in America. Sometimes strenuous, sometimes frustrating, but it’s how things get done in the workplace. Such is life, right?

So why do we complain about it so much? If people have to write articles and in some cases entire books about having better, more productive meetings, something is clearly rotten in the state of Denmark no matter how many of us claim to love what we do.

Why Does This Matter?

This topic came up for me a few weeks ago and was the focus of my second PHEATURE Phriday because as much as I love the work I do, I find that I often feel like I’m part of meetings to set up other meetings to talk about the content of more meetings; a good friend and colleague often says that at my institution “we have conversations about conversations,” and rarely, if ever, does anything actually come out of this endless loop of talking. Granted, change in higher education usually moves at a glacial pace, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but I can say that I’m over it happening without being questioned, especially when my personal and professional time is involved. One of the articles I posted in the aforementioned piece noted that professionals spend nearly 9 hours a week in project update meetings, and I actually think this figure is quite low for SAPros- I can spend that much time in individual staff one on one meetings alone so it’s W closer to 15-20 hours for me.

In most cases, I can deal with this- I love meeting with my students and catching up, or checking in with colleagues on projects we’re doing together and in these instances these sessions are as much social as they are professional (more on this later). However, there are many, many cases where I feel like my time might be better spent elsewhere- and clearly this is a sentiment shared by folks in and out of higher education. At a time where we are dealing with decreased funding and resources, fewer staff doing more work, and an increasing sense that accountability to stakeholders is necessary, why are we fine with sitting in rooms for hours at a time, wandering down winding paths that lead to nowhere? We don’t have time for this, nor do we have the energy to dedicate to this project- especially if we want to help our students and ourselves. Higher education is often served with a heaping side of bureaucracy, and it’s no wonder that students can often feel like we don’t hear them or see them and their concerns and needs- we’re too busy sitting in the conference room next door discussing how to do the work instead of doing it! I imagine that this trend also contributes to burnout among staff- another issue we don’t need when most of us already do the work of multiple professionals.

Why is this happening? How did we get here? How do we fix the problem and save ourselves from the scourge of infinite meetings?

3hrmeeting

Why Do We Have So Many Meetings?

Let’s be honest- if I really knew the answer to this question, I would be a public intellectual selling books on the national stage and hiring a staff to run this blog for me (life goals?). There are a million reasons why we may have an excess of meetings that pop up on our calendars and why we allow them to take over, and there’s no way I can cover them all here. I do think that there are some common ones that I’ve seen that really grind my gears (in the words of Peter Griffin) and that I think we can work on. In no particular order:

  • Disorganization and Miscommunication. To an INTJ like me, wasting my time is like spitting in my face or insulting my mother- there are few things you can do to me that will anger me more. When we have meetings to update others on projects, make decisions, or otherwise do the work needed in our organizations we end up meeting the most when we don’t dedicate the time to prepare beforehand. Think about the last staff meeting you had to attend- did you actually read through the notes from the last meeting or the required readings or materials to discuss? If you didn’t, on behalf of the people who did, you should probably know someone likely resisted the urge to throw something at you- or worse. Other questions I have for you: Did you set an agenda? Time limits? Action items at the end of the meeting? If professors can do it for classes, why can’t we do it as professionals? Not communicating that you didn’t meet expectations, or providing updates that may change the nature of the conversation is another major issue here that can further make more work for others (also not a good look).
  • Desire for Social Interaction: Remember above when I said that some of the best meetings can be times for social interaction as much as they are for professional development? Don’t worry- I haven’t changed my mind on that and I really do believe it. However, the problem lies in the tendency for the scale to tip in the favor of the social side and not to do enough in the way of professional work. In most cases, people who work in student affairs are naturally social- even if they tend to be more introverted, they usually (hopefully!) like helping others and working with others so it’s natural to get caught up in conversation, even if it is professionally stimulating. However, staff meetings are rarely the best time to do this- in the case of my student staff team that meets from 8:00-9:30 PM (usually split into two halves each for 45 minutes), the LAST thing they want to do is to sit in a room late at night so keeping it strictly or mostly business is highly preferred. Coffee dates, lunches and happy hours are better suited for non-work related chit chat- save your best energy for the tasks at hand in the workplace.
  • Reluctance To Set Limits: This works a couple of ways- for one, I think we’re reluctant at times to cut conversations off and to ask people to hold their thoughts for more appropriate times or places, either out of a fear that we’re stifling discussion or that we’ll upset someone. This leads to meetings that have no agendas, fluid agendas or agendas that get tossed out completely and to meetings that run way over the scheduled time. No one wants to be the person who cuts off others or makes others upset- but by allowing folks to talk unchecked and for meetings to go on and on, you’re far more likely to upset people by wasting time. The other way that limits are needed and often neglected is by using one type of meeting to address multiple concerns and levels of concerns instead of being strategic about time. In our roles, we have many minor needs, some day to day concerns, major crises and emergent situations, and long-range concerns- spending hours having a larger conversation about strategic direction when you really need to figure out what’s happening in the office this week makes no sense and can severely impact your office’s ability to move forward in meeting any challenges at all. It’s true that in our profession we are often overworked and have to do the work of what should be two or three professionals- but in doing so, we need to prioritize what’s important, learn to say no, and spend the time we do have in the right places.

How Do We Fix This?

So here’s what we know so far:

  • Meetings are often crucial to our success as SAPros.
  • They’re also a huge drain on our time and energy.
  • We’re partly to blame for some of this due to bad habits.

Clearly, we can’t do our work without meeting together- so how do we do it better? Some suggestions from me below:

  • Be realistic and efficient about time and resources. If you only have time for a 60 minute meeting, don’t pull together material for 90 minutes or more- realistically you should be setting aside at least 10-15 minutes of your time for any unexpected issues, questions, concerns, announcements, etc. My personal rule is to have enough content to fill 75% of your time because you’ll more than likely run over. If you don’t have enough to talk about or if your topic can easily be covered in a quick e-mail exchange or through stopping by someone’s office, avoid putting another meeting on your calendar. Respect the time of whoever you’re meeting with- students, staff, faculty, or otherwise- and don’t overbook.
  • Set an agenda- and actually follow it. I don’t have large staff meetings unless I have some set agenda planned- make sure you know what you want to get out of times together and do your best to share that with folks in the meeting (bonus points if you do it beforehand). NEVER schedule a meeting longer than 10-15 minutes without an agenda- it’s way too easy to get off track and lose focus.
  • Do your homework BEFORE the meeting- or be honest about it if you didn’t. If you need to read something or review notes beforehand, DO IT. It’s exhausting and infuriating to have to take time out of my schedule to sit in meetings where I spend time watching others do things they could have done before they got to the meeting. I get that this can’t always happen- the nature of our roles requires flexibility, but me allowing you to disrespect me and my time isn’t being flexible- it’s being negligent. If you can’t adequately prepare, let whomever you’re meeting with know so you can reschedule- don’t be the office douchebag who always comes in empty-handed.
  • Make sure to end the meeting with takeaways and action items. This one is harder to do. We can’t always ensure action on everything we discuss. It’s still important to work towards having concrete takeaways and towards giving folks work to do afterwards- it can curb the need for more meetings and provide opportunities for professional growth.
  • Connect with colleagues on your own time. Notice that I didn’t say that you can’t be social in meetings when it’s appropriate. Some degree of this is necessary and you do need to get along with your colleagues when working together so it’s to be expected that you’ll want to catch up. However, dragging out a meeting when others have important work to do isn’t a good look- and for the introverts in the room who run on lower reserves of social energy, it’s draining to be stuck in endless social interactions. If you’re spending longer than 10 minutes a meeting doing this, consider setting up a separate time to check in or making that part of the meeting optional.
  • Check your ego at the door. SAPros like to talk and to get their opinions and thoughts out there- again, not a surprise- but talking just to hear yourself speak or to avoid making a decision isn’t being collegial. Be willing to take the space you need and to make space for others and to consider your office or department’s shared goals, mission and values in making decisions. Resist the temptation to place yourself and your wants above your students’ needs.
  • Consider reorganizing your meeting structure. One of my favorite professional reads of the past few months was Patrick Lencioni’s Death By Meeting. One of his suggestions is to implement varying levels of meetings to best use time. A quick 5-10 minute check-in at the beginning of each day can give everyone a sense of the daily agenda and any emergent issues coming up, while a weekly staff meeting can be used best for project updates and more ongoing concerns. Larger conversations or summaries can be done in monthly progress meetings while strategic decisions are usually best saved for quarterly off-sites or retreats. However you choose to do it, be thoughtful about when and where you spend time so you don’t get caught up in larger issues and ignore the day-to-day dramas.

spiderman_meetingsAgain, I’m not opposed to meetings in general- if I was, there’s no way I’d survive as long as I have in a career that requires so many of them. However, if we’re going to avoid burning out, angering each other and neglecting our biggest stakeholders- our students- we’ve got to rethink how we do them going forward.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this piece and got something out of it! Please share your thoughts on whether you think our meeting culture is excessive, as well as any tips and tricks you use to run great meetings. I’ll be back later in the week with a very long overdue PROTIP Phriday- thanks for reading and as always please, please, please like, comment and share with your friends! See you again soon!

J