Make time for communication. We open thebeginning of the fall semester with a con-vocation, and all the full-time folks areinvited. During that presentation, I alwaysmake an update on what progress is beingmade, and I have a chance to communicatewhat significant changes and challengeswe’re facing.
I work with the administrative leadershipteam during the summer, and we go overthe challenges and the things that we wantto do, and at the same time, they’re communicating our plans back to the peoplethey work with, so what I’m saying is actually going to the institution as a whole.
There’s no one communication strategythat gets to everybody. Some people readeverything, other people don’t read anything. So what you put out in writing forsome people is great, for other people, it’snot. You have to try to get to pretty muchevery communication available.
We have a series of communications thatwe do throughout the year called brown-bag lunches, where we have someoneclose to the topic address an issue thatwe’re dealing with. I have meetings withthe support staff at the institution, and wetalk to all kinds of people so that everyonehas an opportunity to meet with me if theywant to gather information and offerinsights.
It’s always a huge challenge, and you justhave to make time to do it. There are somany demands on your time that you canbe completely consumed with what otherpeople want you to do. So, as you work onyour priorities with time, you have to saythat communication is something thatyou’re going to make time to do.
Do you always achieve it? No, you’dalways like to be able to do more. The president can’t do it all, but you have to set thetenor for communication to remind thewhole institution how important that is.
Shrink the plan and share it. One thing we dois when we develop the vision that we’regoing to be following, we reduce it to a single page. It covers both sides, but on onepage we have our deeply held values and beliefs on how we’re going to operate, ourvision.
It’s all laid out and we give it to everybodywho interviews for a position at the collegeand say, ‘This is where we’re headed, andwe can tell you how we got to this if youwant us to, but there’s been a lot of processto get this, and it’s a deeply held consensusof where we want to go. So that’s something you need to look over and considercoming in, and we’ll be judging everythingthat’s done from that directional template.’
We know that if we’re going to be able toachieve the vision of that plan, you have tohave the human talent to initiate and energize it to really make it happen. Part of thatis having people see if they can fit with thatright from the beginning.
Let the staff see where you’re headed. Youalways are in a position where you have toadjust your directional plans to the currentrealities. You have to be able to makeadjustments and refinements, and one ofthe significant challenges is to keep peopleconversant with and abreast of theprogress you make and also the challengesthat accrue. People like to know what’sgoing on, they like to be able to see thatwe’re making progress.
One of the things we do is have our institutional planning council evaluate ourprogress on where we are on the initiatives that we plan to undertake during a particular year, and then we update the progresson the whole plan for 2015. So if everybodyknows where we are, and in what context,you can explain what adjustments weremade so that people can understand themoves we make.
That keeps staff consensus strong andmakes it easier for the implementation tobe strong.
Understand what your people are doing. Thefirst step is always getting fully enmeshedto the environment that you’re in so thatwhat are the programs, the services, theinitiatives that are already under way.People have to know that you’re on top ofthe status of where things are, and it’s fromthat point that you can then begin to workwith people to help lead change.
You have to understand what is going on.People have to understand that you’re ontop of that knowledge or information, andthat you’re willing to help them achievewhat it is they’re trying to do while alsolooking at where the institution is going.One of the assumptions that I make is thatpeople really want to do a good job, andthey want to have a leader that understands what they’re doing and the progressthat they’re making.
With that in mind, they’re happy to have aleader help them do it better, and they’rehappy to have help refining what they’regoing to do as long as they see that youunderstand what they do, celebrate whatthey do, value what they do and then findways to build on what’s working well tomove forward.
To do that, we come at leadership froman abundance philosophy as opposed to adeficit philosophy. We don’t come at theinstitution from looking at what’s wrong,what do we need to fix, we come at it fromunderstanding what’s working well andhow we can accentuate and acceleratewhat’s working well in such a positive waythat it overcomes the areas where wecould do better.
HOW TO REACH: Lorain County Community College, (800)995-5222 or www.lorainccc.edu