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How You Can Be More Interesting to Prospective StudentsTuesday, May 31st, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

Challenges. We all have them.

One of the biggest challenges that many college admissions teams face in this highly competitive environment is coming up with something interesting to say.

Furthermore, there’s the challenge of writing things in a way that actually connects with this generation of prospective students. Both hurdles are extremely challenging for many college admissions recruiters who are being asked to do more with less time.

In my ongoing effort to help you become a smarter, more efficient recruiter, I want to pass along some proven ideas on how to actually be interesting to your prospects, specifically with what you write about in letters, your emails and on social media:

  • Don’t be afraid to be wrong (within reason, of course).  This is part of an overall strategy of being transparent.  Being wrong means you’re human, and that’s a quality that our research says today’s prospects, and their parents, value significantly.  Talk about a part of your application process or your campus visit that your institution is trying to improve.  The honesty will be refreshing to your recruits.  Of course, exercise reason when you do this.
  • Don’t be afraid to be right.  Build yourself as an expert, and give away your knowledge to prospective students and families. We’re all drawn to people who we believe can help us get to where we want to be. Your prospects are no different. When they accept you as an expert admissions counselor, it goes a long way towards erasing any doubts that may exist about your school in their mind.
  • Surprise your prospects.  Jim Belosic, CEO and co-founder of ShortStack, a company that helps build engaging social media contests and marketing campaigns, says that one of best ways to deliver exceptional customer service and be more interesting is to constantly be on the lookout for ways to “surprise and delight”. There are so many different opportunities throughout the recruitment process where you can make your prospect’s day. Are you trying to do that now? When you surprise and delight, your prospects and their parents will stop and pay attention. In a marketplace overflowing with colleges and universities that look and feel the same, setting yourself apart from the competition is a key factor in winning over a student.
  • Make your prospects laugh. Successful communicators have been doing this for ages, and as long as it’s appropriate for your prospect, humor can get them to pay attention to your recruiting message.  Easier said than done, of course, but I encourage you to look for ways to get your recruit to smile and laugh.
  • Make sure you are ALWAYS telling a great story.  I’ve talked about this over and over again, and we use it as a foundation for creating our Total Recruiting Solution (TRS) plans for our college admissions clients.  At their core, stories support your key recruitment points, make solid openers, and teach your prospects while entertaining them.  And, a good story can make you a legend in recruiting. I’m not talking about the occasional anecdotes on social media or in one of your letters or emails. I’m talking about the story that gets told over and over again for years to come. Forget about all the others…tell me that one.  As you tell those stories, don’t forget to explain how your prospect fits into them.

Being interesting isn’t easy, and converting that interest to your letters, emails and social media posts is even more challenging.  If a counselor can master the art, there is almost nothing that they won’t accomplish in the competition for the best students.

Strive to be interesting creatively, and watch what happens to your recruiting results!

Need help developing your story?  From our customized On-Campus Workshops to one-on-one personalized recruiting message creation as a part of our Total Recruiting Solution plan for college admissions departments, we have a lot of resources that can help counselors become more effective recruiters.  If you’d like to learn more, just send me an email directly.

Reflect, Analyze, Improve!Monday, May 30th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

No matter how good or bad your recruiting or performance results were during this past school year, you can always do better as a coach. Yet the single biggest key to improving both performance and results is ignored by almost everybody. If you want to be at the top of your game, you absolutely must learn from what has already happened.

Now that graduation is over and our student athletes have headed home for the summer, I spend a lot of time having fun with my family, I try to rest and recover, and I try to get caught up on things that had to get pushed off during the busy spring. But I also use this time review the progress I’ve made on my goals during the year. I do that by:

  1. Reviewing my tracking journal entries — a full year’s worth of recruiting, energy, and communication entries from the tracking journal I created.
  2. Reviewing my yearly, monthly, and weekly schedules to get a better understanding of how productively I was working throughout the year.
  3. Reviewing my business card file to remind myself of all the new contacts I’ve made.
    “Evaluated reflection turns experience into insight.”
    -John Maxwell

    The routine of reviewing the past year and preparing to set my goals for the coming year gives me a great deal of knowledge. I see what I have accomplished, I see where I fell short, and what I love the most about reviewing the previous year is that I get to see how much progress I have made.

    It is also very practical. It gives me a general feeling for how I’ve been spending my time (relative to my priorities). It helps me note any bad habits I might have fallen into. And I am reminded of all sorts of ideas I had, projects with my team or staff that I initiated, and relationships I started that need follow up.

    So now that 2nd semester has wrapped up for most of us, no matter what else you have planned for the next couple of days, set aside a little time to revisit the past year. I think you’ll come up with all sorts of good ideas about things you can do next year… along with the inspiration to get you going on them.

10 Reasons Why Your Recruiting Efforts Might Be Falling ShortTuesday, May 24th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

It happened this year not only to first-year admissions counselors but also some veteran ones – They didn’t reach their enrollment goals for their territory or demographic.

Many of you are worried. I know because you’ve talked with me about it. Something went wrong this recruiting cycle and you’re not exactly sure what, or why. You just know that it can’t be the same result with this next class of students.

Recruiting (which is really selling, remember) is an essential duty and responsibility in just about every single admissions/enrollment counselor’s job description. If you don’t recruit well, you might not keep your job. And even if they let you keep your job, it’s no fun going to work everyday unhappy and feeling like you’re walking around on eggshells. I’ve heard way too many counselors use words like “uninspired” and “miserable” this spring.

Today I’m going to take a different approach with my article. Instead of focusing on what you should be doing to be successful at selling and recruiting, I’m going to suggest some reasons you might be failing or falling short of your goals.

A word of warning: Some of these statements may seem harsh. Taking criticism can be a difficult thing. I want you to think of it as “tough love”, because I also know that you can use criticism (like I have many times before) to give you a competitive edge moving forward.

See if any of these struggles plague your recruiting efforts:

  • You are unprepared and unmotivated.  Sound harsh?  It isn’t in the case of some counselors, and unfortunately even some admissions leaders.  A number of counselors I speak to or meet with don’t take recruiting seriously. It’s not a job where you can just show up unprepared and wing it. No preparation will equal poor results every single time.  Is it hard to be more prepared and motivated than your competition to recruit?  You better believe it is!  Start now to prepare yourself for future recruiting battles.
  • You don’t believe in your ability to recruit. Believe it or not more counselors than you might imagine struggle with this.  They come up with a strategy for dealing with something they hate like recruits who don’t say much or overbearing parents, and when it doesn’t work they feel like they can’t get the job done. Selling effectively is a constant learning process.
  • You don’t know how to accept rejection.  Counselors tend to get down on themselves when an admitted student tells them no. Many start to develop a negative attitude and a defeatist outlook when it comes to recruiting.  Remember, they aren’t rejecting you personally they’re rejecting your school’s offer.  There’s a difference.  Don’t become bitter, and don’t lose your optimism.  Maintaining your confidence and belief in your ability in the face of rejection is key to succeeding.
  • You fail to master the fundamentals of sales.  I’ve said it many times before: Like it or not you are a salesperson.  Your job is convincing students and families why your college or university is the smart, right fit for them, and how it will help prepare them for the next phase of their lives.   Those kinds of selling skills aren’t something that business and admissions professionals are just born with. The difference is most business professionals are forced to learn those skills when they go to work.  Big companies put a lot of time and money into their corporate training programs.  Unfortunately that’s not always the case in admissions and enrollment management. That means as an individual you need to actively seek out resources that can help you to be the best. They’re out there, you just have to do a little digging.
  • You blame others when things go wrong.  Dan Tudor and I talk about this all the time with counselors and coaches. When you start blaming others for your recruiting failures, you’ve lost the psychological battle in selling.  Don’t blame your admissions director, financial aid staff, your school’s academic standards, the prospect’s parents…stop it.  Accept responsibility for your mistake or lack of effort and make it your goal to be the best recruiter on your admissions team instead of looking for the next scapegoat.
  • You fail to develop long term relationships.  How many high school counselors or community college professionals did you really work at developing relationships with this year?  Did you expand your recruiting network?  Failure to develop relationships with people who will advocate your school to a prospective student or parent without you asking is a common problem we see when we come in to help develop a winning recruiting strategy at colleges around the country.  I’ve been on that side of the desk and I’m here to tell you again that it will be worth your while to reach out and connect more then just when you need to set up a visit or request a transcript. If they feel you’re partnering with them for the good of their students, they will almost always advocate your school.
  • You aren’t able to overcome objections.  I talk about it frequently here in this newsletter.  This is the number one reason most counselors fail when it comes to recruiting.  Why?  There aren’t very many students who are going to say “yes” when you have failed to answer each one of their concerns.  Bring us to campus and learn our techniques to overcome objections. You’ll find that recruiting will get a whole lot easier and more enjoyable.
  • You don’t want to accept change.  Many people who work in admissions and higher education are creatures of habit, and they like it that way.  Change is constant, and if you’re trying to recruit a student/family using all the same techniques and communication strategies that you did even 3, 5, or 10 years ago, you’re probably struggling. Whether they’re a teenager or non-traditional student, times have changed. An easy example would be social media and texting. Do you know how important those communication methods are for today’s student, and how they want you to use them? To be the best you have to embrace change and learn to succeed under new and changing circumstances.
  • You aren’t persistent enough.  “I’m waiting for that prospect to call me back” or “I’ve already told them that information a bunch of times.”  Counselors who consistently make statements like these are the ones who fall short in recruiting. Being professional and persistent are keys to selling in the business world, and a big key to success in the college recruitment world.  Don’t give up easily.  And, as I talked about in this recent article, if a student picks another school instead of yours, be professional in how you respond to them.
  • You don’t “ask for the sale”.  You want to give them their space and you don’t want to pressure them. They’ll call or email you when they’ve made a decision. That’s the mentality too many admissions counselors continue to take. “Asking for the sale” is NOT about pressuring the student. If you’ve understood their needs, built trust, gained agreement along the way and answered any objections, the next logical step is to ask for this. You can also practice what’s called a “trial close” if you think the student is ready to “close”. This technique is one of the many things we work with admissions teams on during our on-campus workshops.

Hopefully none of these 10 reasons apply to you.  For many of you though, some will apply.  Here’s the next step: Determine how to erase any of these bad habits.  Even just one of these can cripple your recruiting efforts.

Need help?  Have a question about one of the bullet points?  Contact me via e-mail at jeremy@dantudor.com or call my cell at 612-386-0854.  We thrive on working with counselors and other admissions professionals who need help formulating a winning strategy when it comes to recruiting, marketing and communication.

Cowardly Coaching, A DecisionMonday, May 23rd, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

A superhero movie is always playing in our local theater. I grab the kids and go because those movies are fun and exciting. But they’re fiction.

I’d like to be a superhero-coach. That coach who is always doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Being brave all the time.

Well, that’s fiction too. Because there’s times I’ve been a coward as a coach. When I wasn’t brave.

Not easy to admit.

The Truth Hurts But … It’s The Truth

Here’s an important truth of coaching which won’t make the job postings … there will be times when its wicked tempting to be a coward. For me, it was times like:

  • when I had to cut that kid who gave her all
  • when I was so exhausted/sick/burned-out my world was spinning
  • when my real-world crashed full force into my coaching-world (like when my own child was home sick right before practice)
  • when I learned my best athlete was injured and shouldn’t play, but the BIG race/game was in 3 hours
  • when an athlete does something dumb, on purpose, that puts a team mate at risk
  • when my oldest son was graduating high school the same day my team was competing at the national championships

I can’t tell you what a superhero coach does in those situations. You’ll have to see the movie. I can tell you I’ve had to face them all. I’d like to say I always made a Captain American decision, took Ironman action, did what Thor world do. I’d be lying.

Your Coaching Movie

If the movie cameras are suddenly turned on you, how will you act? When faced with a superhero-coaching decision, what will you do?

  1. Will you scream at the athlete who “isn’t getting it?”
  2. When faced with a difficult decision will your decision be “non-decision”?
  3. Will you break a rule today, instead of changing the rule for tomorrow?
  4. Will you be the coach who didn’t say what needed to be said when it needed to be said?
  5. Will you work harder when things get rocky, instead of smarter?

It’s not easy, this coach thing.

Understanding that “right action” is as important as “right knowledge” can make it a wee bit little easier.

Stop Being a Multitasking ManiacMonday, May 23rd, 2016

by Mandy Green, Busy Coach

Happy start of the summer to all of you!  With this being a crazy time of year with wrapping up the spring season, graduation, getting summer off to a good start, etc., I wanted to send you a quick reminder on how you should NOT be working in the office.

Maximum performance in the office for us coaches is possible only when you concentrate single-mindedly on the task—the most important task, and you stay at it until it is 100 percent complete.

Remember, multi-tasking is the antithesis of productivity.  Multitasking is actually a myth. It is impossible. You actually cannot mentally and effectively multitask. We only have 1 brain and it does not function like a computer.  The brain has only one channel for language.

Here are 2 ideas for how you can avoid multitasking during the day.

1.      I believe that our need to multitask is significantly reduced when we do a better job of saying No and Yes.  We need to stop scattering our energy, focus, and wasting our time on trivial things that have nothing to do with our vision and goals and start saying “yes” to our priorities and to what truly matters.  Each day there is more to do than can get done.  So we must make choices, and those choices include saying “no” to some people and opportunities so that we can say “yes” to the greater work we are meant to do.

2.      List two or three multitasking activities you commonly engage in at work or at home.  The next time you catch yourselfmultitasking, STOP! Take a moment to think about what you’re doing, and quickly choose one of those tasks to focus on first. Complete that task before you switch to the other one.

When we immerse in a single task, we can access phenomenal FLOW; that is when we can get into a really creative and productive place.  It is the mental state where we are so focused and engaged with what we are doing, we produce our greatest results and where peak performance happens.

Keep it simple.  Focus on 1 task at a time until it is finished.  Don’t start a new task until the first one is finished.  Your focus muscles may be weak if you are guilty of multitasking a lot.  Something I have found super helpful to keep my focused while I am working is to set a Pomodoro timer for 25 minutes.  Go to www.marinaratimer.com.  When you get distracted, look at the clock and see how much more time you need to stay focused.  Keep telling yourself to stay focused, stay focused, stay focused.  It does get easier the more you do it.  You just need to build your focus muscles up again.

Have a great productive week!

The Secret Weapon of Your Recruitment Campaign, and Why It WorksTuesday, May 17th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

A couple of weeks ago our family added more sports equipment to the bin. The newest additions are a helmet, bat, glove, ball and cleats. Oh and a special bag of course, because how else is my almost 7-year old daughter going to carry all that stuff to softball practice.

Over the past 15 months or so my daughter has tried her hand at gymnastics, soccer, basketball, and now softball. Each time right at the start the same thing has happened. She gets frustrated because she isn’t immediately able to score every goal, make every shot, or hit a pitch that’s not sitting on a tee.

The late Jim Rohn – entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker — has said, “Success is neither magical nor mysterious.  Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”

We all know the importance of building good habits. To get better at something it takes practice on a consistent basis, which is becoming harder and harder for many people to accept because we live in a society full of instant gratification.

As you shift your focus to this next class of prospective students, I can’t stress enough the importance of being consistent from start to finish with all of your recruiting communications. It sounds easy enough, but for many admissions teams this is arguably their greatest challenge.

If your office doesn’t have a clear long-term plan to consistently communicate all the different parts of your school’s story and the things that make you unique, you’re making recruiting harder. And when I say a long-term plan, I’m not referring to just the marketing materials that get sent out at various points during the recruitment process. I’ve seen some really great pieces before, but those alone are not a winning communication strategy…not with this generation of students.

Today I’m going to provide you with a more effective way to build your next recruiting plan and discuss why consistency works with this generation of students.

Let me begin by outlining the different types of communication that a solid recruiting campaign needs to consistently feature. This is what we give our clients each month as a part of their research-based custom recruiting communication plan.

  • Written communication. Both mail and email matter to your recruits. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen admissions departments make in 2015-16 is thinking students don’t care about a personalized letter anymore because email is their preferred method of communication. Our ongoing focus group research on campuses across the country continues to show that students wanted to be contacted by mail every month. That same research also confirms that your students want you to send a logical, foundational message about your school every 6 to 9 days. That’s the right amount of time according to the research.
  • Phone calls. I know it’s tempting, but don’t try and skip right to verbal communication. Sacrificing letters and emails, even if you start the recruitment process a little later than usual, is not a winning strategy. A large majority of your prospects just aren’t comfortable with you starting the conversation that way. Mix in phone calls after you’ve sent letters and emails first.
  • Social media. In the age of Smartphones it’s becoming more important that you communicate with prospects through social media. While it remains unlikely to make or break your college, it can determine whether or not you form a solid connection with a recruit, or make the kind of missteps that exclude you from future communication online. Utilize social media to give them an ongoing, behind the scenes look at life inside your college a couple of times a month.

This generation reacts to a good, consistent combination of all of these facets of recruiting.  If you only focus on one or two communication methods with your recruits, you’re leaving the door open for a competitor that will utilize all of their communication resources.

You might have noticed that I left out text messages. As it stands today, I want you to resist the temptation to “recruit” via text message. There’s a right way and a wrong way for admissions to use text messaging during the recruitment process. Click this link for that information.

Now let’s move to “the Why” – why consistency works and can be a secret weapon for you:

  1. It gives your prospect a predictable flow of information. Pretty obvious, right? As obvious as it may be, there are still hundreds of colleges and universities whose recruiting communications are anything but consistent. For example, some schools come out of the gate strong for the first month or two and then run out of things to say before really gaining traction.  Others slam students with information at various (key) points in the funnel but provide little in-between. My recommendation for you is to use what we call the “drip, drip, drip” method of communication. From start to finish communicate small chunks of information about your institution that explain why your recruit should want to come there. When you extend your messaging out over the entire recruiting cycle, and not just when it’s convenient, you’ll win over some recruits simply because other schools fall off.
  2. Your recruits value consistent communication. It’s a proven fact – today’s prospective student appreciates and values you being there from start to finish. When we work with clients and help them develop a messaging campaign for an entire year, we often hear stories like the following one from students. When it came time to make a decision between multiple colleges they felt a little more loyal to one because that school communicated with them the most during the recruitment process. It might not seem like the smartest way to pick a college, but that’s what this generation of recruits says matters to them.
  3. Consistency prompts a response. All of your communication should focus on building the relationship between you, your prospect, and his or her parents. Everything you send out should prompt a response that creates back and forth conversation. This will lead to them feeling more connected with you. It may take you five, six, or even ten times before you get that response but remain consistent and stay the course. Believe it or not most prospects are looking for a reason and permission to reach out and contact you once a relationship has been developed. Most won’t do it on their own. Start by asking them a question or getting their opinion about something that’s being discussed in your email. When you have a call to action like this it gives them a safe, non-committal way to connect with you.
  4. It builds trust and loyalty. Building close relationships with your prospects and their families is all about communicating on a personal level. That takes time and is hard to accomplish if you’re inconsistent with your contact. When you try to understand the problems that your prospect (and his or her parents) faces, you’re sending a strong message that you care. Over time your reliability to help problem solve will build trust. It will also build loyalty and what you’ll find is the prospect continues to interact with you rather than your competitors.

Our clients achieve and exceed their enrollment goals when they provide a consistent message using a variety of communication types. Over time if you’re consistent you become hard to ignore. As other colleges peel off, you will move up your prospect’s list.

A small word of caution – schools can be consistent but with a poor message or poor phone etiquette. We see it happen all the time…in fact it’s why one university became a client of ours recently. Generating a weak message consistently can be as bad as getting a great message out randomly.

Do you have a hard time coming up with talking points for your messaging? We can help. It’s what we do. Take the next step and contact me directly at jeremy@dantudor.com We’ll set up a call to talk strategy.

What Coaches Should Do to Make a Better Recruiting ArgumentMonday, May 16th, 2016

And make no mistake, every time you recruit an athlete, you’re making an argument: 

  • You make an argument as to why they should pay the tuition at your school so that they can play for you.
  • You make an argument that your style of play is better than other options they might be considering.
  • You make an argument that they should make your campus their first visit.
  • You make an argument when you ask them to commit.

Here’s the problem many coaches – and people in the professional world – make: They “argue” with their recruits, and their recruits’ parents, from their coach’s word view.

You have deadlines to meet, applications to turn in, schedules to keep, classes to sign. One of the main teaching points we make in our on-campus recruiting workshops is that many coaches get so wrapped up in the procedure that their school uses to recruit and accept an incoming student-athlete that they forget one important aspect of the recruiting and decision-making process:

Your prospect doesn’t usually care about your process.

Coaches will often times argue from their point of view, rather than empathetically from the prospect’s point of view.

  • So, when you make an argument as to why they should pay the tuition at your school so that they can play for you, it might be a better idea to understand how their family has planned to pay for college (or if they have at all).
  • When you make an argument as to why your style of play is better than their other options, consider associating that style with what they’re playing now on their club team – and if they like it or not.
  • If you want them to come to your campus first, talk to them about what other campuses they’re lining-up visits for – and then create a visit that’s specific to their wants and needs.
  • When you ask them to commit, make sure you explain why you like them, what you see as their plan for them, and let them know that you really want them.

Author and marketing guru Seth Godin says, “Marketing is the empathetic act of telling a story that works, that’s true for the person hearing it, that stands up to scrutiny. But marketing is not about merely sharing what you, the marketer believes. It’s about what we, the listener, believe.”

I couldn’t agree more.

So, here’s a simple three step plan for you to revamp pretty much any argument, recruiting pitch, or conversation with your prospect:

Define what you want to tell them from your point of view. Before you can react with empathy, you need to narrow down exactly what it is that you want to tell your prospect. Be specific.

Reverse sides; how is your prospect going to hear your argument? Think worst case scenario here: What is the least positive way they would hear what you’re telling them?

Re-craft your argument that takes your prospect’s worldview into account. Any argument, recruiting message, or sales pitch you’re hoping to make needs to focus on “what’s in it for them”. Nothing to do with your priorities, deadlines or process…everything to do with their perspective, hopes, dreams and fears.

I Want You to Become the Best ‘Siri’ You Can Be (How and Why)Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services

If you have an iPhone (like me) then you know all about ‘Siri’, Apple’s personal voice assistant. She, or he, can tell you the fastest route to your destination, where the closest In-N-Out Burger is if you’re in Texas (like I was a few weeks back), the answer to a math problem, or the answer to a random question that suddenly pops into your head while you’re watching a television show (this happens to my wife all the time).

‘Siri’ is a problem solver who can provide you with answers and solutions to help make your life, and the daily decisions in it, easier. That sounds like something prospective students and families might find useful during the stressful, and at times confusing, college search process.

Effective problem solving is a characteristic of every great recruiter, sales professional and leader. If you don’t currently think of yourself as a problem solver, I want you to consider making a change. Why? For starters, less problems will equal happier, more appreciative students, families and co-workers. Beyond that, when you provide someone with a solution to their problem, it typically increases your value as an “expert”. That’s one way to separate yourself from the competition as well as stand out in the mind of your boss.

Problem solving is easier when you know how to approach it effectively. Too often I have admissions counselors tell me they take a “make it up as I go” approach. A more effective method is to turn problem solving into a habit and come up with a good process to use when approaching a problem. Without that process you risk your solutions being ineffective.

The following seven-step process can help you become a more effective problem solver:

  1. Anticipate potential problems. You don’t have to wait until your prospect, their parents, or your boss comes to you with a problem to react. Be proactive. Anticipate common problems that you will face during the summer months and into the next cycle and create a plan ahead of time.
  1. Identify the problem and ensure clarity. When you encounter a new problem, it’s important to recognize it right away and ensure that you deal with the real problem and not its symptoms. It’s also important that you don’t make the assumption that everyone involved understands the problem the same way. Get clarity by coming up with an agreed upon written or verbal definition of the problem.
  1. Determine the cause of the problem and analyze it. Most problems have multiple parts. Take time to identify and record what those are. For example, if your campus visit is getting poor marks you might think the problem is with your tour guides. However, if you look a little deeper, the real issue might be a lack of training. Within that training there are different parts and elements. Once you’ve identified the parts and elements that you think contribute the most to the problem it’s time to analyze each of them in greater detail.
  1. Identify possible solutions. Now it’s time to brainstorm. If you’ve worked hard to define and analyze the problem up to this point, your solutions may in fact be quite obvious. Using the campus tour example again, if the tour guides lack of knowledge is causing the complaints from students and families, the obvious solution is to review the training program and make sure that all the important information is clearly communicated.
  1. Evaluate each solution. Look at the pros and cons of each solution and make sure the solutions you’re going to present involve feedback from the appropriate people when necessary. If it’s a team problem, then include the rest of your admissions team. If the problem has for example to do with a personality issue of one of those aforementioned tour guides, then talk to the appropriate people who can offer objective advice as well as those who will be tasked with implementing the solution.
  1. Offer solutions OR Carry out the course of action. If you’re going to offer solutions to a problem, present only one or two. If you offer too many suggestions you risk confusing the other person and allowing him or her to become indecisive. Be extremely clear on the solution and ask the other person you’re helping to repeat it back. If you’ll be the person taking the lead and acting on the chosen solution, move forward at the appropriate time and be mindful that you may encounter some obstacles during implementation.
  1. Follow-up and monitor. Once the plan has been put into effect, don’t forget to follow up and monitor the situation. Any additional problems must be dealt with quickly. After the solution has been implemented it’s essential to measure its success including getting feedback from people affected by any changes that occurred. It’s also a good idea to keep a record of outcomes and any additional problems that came about.

When executed together these seven steps provide a foundation that can help you become a more effective problem solver. They’ve worked for our clients, and I’m confident they will work for you!

We help college and university admissions teams with their professional development year-round. If you’d like to learn more about how our clients continue to GROW and WIN, call me directly at 612-386-0854 or click here to send me an email.

Your Coaching-Improvement Action ListMonday, May 9th, 2016

by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com

Few of us are exactly the coach we want to be. We constantly work to get better — that comes with the profession.

I’ve yet to visit a coach who isn’t a consumer of “how to get better” books, podcasts, and websites. The coach in the next office was that way.

Every week he was reading a new book about coaching. He stayed away from digital, favoring as he said “real-books.” From those books he built an action-list of improvement-ideas.

A Critical Action List

We each should have a list like my neighbor’s. A handy one we can flip to in times of doubt or struggle. Yes, I’ve got one. It includes actions I do and don’t do to improve.

I use it more as a mantra, to read when things are getting a wee bit wonky. Here are several of the actions on mine:

5 Actions that DON’T help me improve:

  • Copying: imitating what a successful coach does just because that coach is successful
  • Demeaning: purposely putting someone down, believing it motivates
  • Cheating: knowingly breaking the rules to get an unfair advantage
  • Egoing: believing that this coaching thing is about ME not about THEM
  • Siloing: reacting mentally to the events of the day without investing time each day processing the big picture

5 Actions that DO help me improve:

  • Being curious: asking thoughtful questions
  • Being helpful: helping another coach overcome
  • Sharing: giving information with no expectation of reward/return
  • Listening: hearing what is said and what is going on around me
  • Breathing: focusing on my breathing several times daily

Those are actions that I know from years of coaching (35 and counting) that hurt/help my coaching. I refer to them often.

For example, recently we were preparing for a difficult competition. I was having a tough time getting my head in a good place prior to the race. I was struggling.

I referred to my list, and went right to asking questions, and listening. I asked the athletes three questions:

  1. “How they felt?” – “We feel good!”
  2. “What they needed?” – “For the Starter to say ‘Go!’”
  3. “What they thought?” – “This is going to be fun!”

I listened to those answers — really listened — and gained strength from them.

Time For Action: Create Your Improvement Action List

If I were to bet, I’d wager you have just such a list. Somewhere, somehow, in some form, you have one, right? It may be nothing more than fuzzy-thoughts but it exists. A few thoughts on this critical list:

  • The list can and should change over time
  • There should be no set number of items
  • Hand writing your list helps it to become ingrained in your long-term memory
  • Having a digital copy (image, text file, etc) of the hand written version helps me keep it handy (Evernote is my choice).

Creating an action list like this is something you can dismiss. Of course you are busy. And, of course, there are big issues on your todo list. However, this list can be an invaluable tool in your coach’s tool box. I suggest setting aside a few minutes to bring it to life.

How to Apply 80/20 to CoachingMonday, May 9th, 2016

by Mandy Green, Coaching Productivity Strategies

John Maxwell, author of many great books on leadership, talks about the Pareto Principle. The Pareto principle states that 20% of a person’s effort generates 80% of the person’s results, if you spend your time, energy, money, and personnel on the top 20 percent of your priorities.

Did you get that? Spend your time on the right projects, and your time will give you a much better investment. By identifying your top priorities and concentrating on these few things that do matter, you can unlock the enormous potential of the critical 20 percent and multiply your productivity and effectiveness as a coach. The coach’s challenge is to distinguish the right 20% from the trivial 80%.

20% of your time produces 80% of the results. Of all of the things you have to do in a day, identify which 20% of your coaching responsibilities will give you 80% of your returns. These activities could be building relationships with recruits, making phone calls to parents, sending emails to recruits, managing your current team, etc. 

20% of the leaders/players on your team will be responsible for 80% of your programs success.  Make a list of everybody on your team. Decide who is in your top 20%.  Are you devoting enough quality time to the key 20% of your roster who determine roughly 80% of your success? Put another way, how much time are you investing in the top 20% of the athletes on your team who seem to have 80% of the influence on your team’s work ethic, commitment, confidence, chemistry, etc.?

Dan Tudor talks a lot about needing to be asked 5 times before we will buy something. The 20% of college coaches who are persistent enough to ask for the sale (commitment) at least 5 times, have an 80% close rate with recruits.

First, if you can upgrade your recruiting to get the top 20% of available physical and mental talent, you obviously vastly increase your program’s chances of success.

Second, since effective recruiting and player selection determines 80% of your success, be sure you are investing enough time in assessing talent, writing letters, making phone calls, cultivating relationships with coaches, etc.

Sit down and spend the time to find out how this principle applies to every aspect of your program. From there, you have the power to set the vital priorities and get them scheduled into your day which will mean the difference between failure, survival, and success.

The more time you spend doing the high-payoff activities, the more value you will bring to your team, program, and staff. By disciplining yourself to clearly identify your high-payoff activities, and then by filling your calendar with those things and appropriately delegating, delaying, or dropping the low-payoff activities, you can and will get more high-payoff activities done every day, reduce your stress, and increase your happiness.

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