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I (Probably) Know What You Did Last Summer

If you’re like most college administration staff, on the last day of the academic year, you’ve got one foot out the door, ready to begin your vacation. And it’s totally natural, after a long year, to want to get away to rest, recuperate, and recharge.

But you’ve got to treat summer vacation like a bag of potato chips. You know how you’re not supposed to eat the entire bag mindlessly because you’ll end up regretting it? It’s better to eat a just a few chips and save room for healthier foods.

By this I mean, go ahead and take a short rest, but don’t use your entire summer vacation as an excuse to be lazy and unproductive, or you might regret it.

Instead, use the summer to START the transformative changes to enhance your programs, departments, or services.

You might wonder why I bolded the word START. Well, it’s because change happens over time, and the summer is a great time to reflect, assess, brainstorm ideas, develop a plan and begin acting on your transformational action plan.

Go ahead and take a short rest this summer. But then get started on finding ways to make improvements to better serve the students.

Here are some things to consider while reflecting on improvements that can be made:

What Didn’t Work Last Year?

Think back to what you’ve tried in the past that didn’t work. For instance, often times we know the gaps that need to be fixed, but we try to fix them in one shot.

I’ve been guilty of this. I’ve hired multiple consultants with the hopes they would magically fix our problems instantly. And for a couple of days, the consultants were present, everyone seemed invested and we appeared to be making headway. Then the consultants would leave and slowly everyone returns back to their old, ineffective patterns.

It’s like being overweight and out of shape and hoping one week at the gym will get you ripped or able to pull off a string bikini. Ain’t gonna happen. Real change requires a longer commitment.

If you haven’t been able to make lasting changes in your department, consider trying something different in the coming year and hire a long-term consultant.

Yes, this will cost more, but consider hiring a consultant to lead you through long-term planning and implementation.

As you probably heard it takes at least 3 months for habits to be formed. Why do we continue to invest money and time in one-shot programs and trainings without having a long-term plan to implement the changes to make them stick?

Conduct an Audit

Do you assess all of your processes, services, and procedures at least twice a year? Are they working? What is the student feedback? How is the data informing the changes needed? How do you involve the staff in this process?

What are the Needs of Your Team?

How well did the staff work together this year? Were there issues that you didn’t address? How did these issues affect the foundation? What are the staff needs? How can you meet these needs to strengthen the entire team? What have you done before? Did it work? Did it last?

Create a Playbook

Transformation requires a playbook. What is your long-term plan to make changes? What tools will you use? Will you assign a book or an article, have your staff watch a webinar, go on a retreat? Without a playbook, many strategic plans end up on the proverbial shelf. Good intentions don’t create lasting change. But having a solid plan and committing to that plan does.

Students’ needs are constantly changing. To improve our services, we’ve got to understand their needs and how we can meet them. As they change, we must change.

Summer goes by fast. Don’t let it get away from you this year. Go ahead and get some rest, but then get to work to figure out how you and your staff can transform into the team that can best support your students in the coming year.

If you decide you’d like to hire a long-term consultant, please get in touch with me. I love growing teams and helping to create lasting change.

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