By Ethan Penland, Director of Admissions Services
3 minute read
My last post discussed the importance of having a conversation with students about stressors when it comes to the college search process.
We’re now in the month of November and your team has been grinding out through much uncertainty. Whether it was the uncertainty of recruitment, the uncertainty of when they would have a full team again, the uncertainty of when they would be able to catch a breather to have a little work/life balance, or uncertainty of how effective they were able to be for prospective students, there are a lot of stressing moments from this fall semester.
If you’re the leader of a division, a team, or even if you’re an enrollment counselor, I want to encourage you to check on your people. There are morale peaks and valleys to a recruitment cycle, and, unfortunately, we have been in a valley for a good part of the fall semester. How are they feeling? What are they needing to stay motivated?
I am not naive to think that everyone reading this has the flexibility to provide a “mental health day” for all staff members, but there are a few ways to acknowledge and support your team and teammates after such an exhausting semester.
- Ask how they’re doing. This will feel ingenuine for some individuals trying this, but if you truly want the best for your staff or teammates, you will identify the best way for you to approach this. It will be amazing, if done genuinely, at how your staff will pour out their stressors. What will be important will be to empathize and listen. Then, take appropriate action to support. At the end of the day, we all want someone who cares enough to listen and validate us, and your staff needs it from someone at work who understands the same struggles they experience. Do this by an impromptu stop in their office, chit-chatting, grabbing lunch together, or taking a walk outside.
- Thank you cards. Sure, it can be time-consuming to write handwritten notes for each staff member thanking them for their hard work, but the work they did was hard work and quite time-consuming. Thank you cards should be intentional and thoughtful, so buy the ones that are blank on the inside, and fill them with your words. A little thank you can go a long way!
- Give them a voice. Have a forum or way to allow expression of what went well for the semester and why, what was challenging and why, and what improvements or changes they would like to see for the spring semester and why. Anonymity is great, but if they’re willing to put their name on it, even better. Those are individuals that can help improve morale for your team with your leadership and support.
- Reconsider your 1-on-1 chat. 1-on-1 chats range in a variety of ways but take time to recognize that the time you have with someone in a one-on-one setting is an opportunity for the individual to share and be expressive. Those meetings do not always have to follow an agenda, nor do you need to lead the meeting. Let that time be about them and for them. This is also a time to give them a voice, especially if you have built a good foundation of trust in your relationship.
- Staff Appreciation Day. Do something different that gets them away from the desk and together. Have different stations such as board games, coloring or painting, or even a scavenger hunt around campus. Make it intentional by not making it about work but about them.
- Host your own Dundies. Hey, let’s have some fun here! I am a huge fan of the Office, and the Dundies epitomizes staff recognition and appreciation. Now, I would not say be just like Michael Scott and his choices for Dundies, but follow his premise. He gives awards based on the characteristics of his people. You have to know your staff to give out proper awards. So, have fun with this, and appreciate the qualities of your team by giving them something that recognizes those qualities.
If you’re reading this, I sincerely hope that you’re doing well after such an uncertain semester, and I hope that you take time to stop, appreciate the successes of your team and teammates, and see how they are feeling. Keeping their well-being at the forefront of your mind will continue to be one of the best assets to your leadership or you as a teammate.
If you found this helpful, please share with someone who you believe could benefit. If you would like to discuss this further, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. While you are at it, follow me on Twitter!