A long, long time ago

Years ago in my graduate program’s Leadership in Educational Organizations course I was asked to write a “This I believe” statement. This statement was meant to be a brief introduction to me, my values, and philosophies within student affairs. I rediscovered this document recently. There have been a lot of changes in my beliefs and opinions over the years. After four years I believe it may be important to revisit what it is I believe as a professional. I am no longer enrolled in a graduate program therefore I have no need to write this in an essay format!

This I believe – Bullet List Edition

Obviously I could not record every single thing that I believe about the work that I do, but this is a good start that I’ve worked on for several days. See something that sparks interest? Send me an email at syoung@sensiblyshane.com

Accountability

  • Hold persons accountable. 
  • Accountability is about correcting behavior inconsistent with the expectations of the position and educating that particular employee.
  • Sometimes correction and education is termination.
  • All employees should know their rights within corrective action and be given access to detailed, written explanations of that process and their rights.
  • Holding persons accountable is a more effective practice than adding a new rule or expectation for small offenses.

Assessment

  • Collecting good data on performance and then using it to improve is not a suggestion – it’s a requirement.
  • If the department leadership are too busy to do assessment – then create a position for someone who can.

Education

  • A Master’s education is not necessary for every entry level residence life and housing position.
  • If an organization is hiring a master’s level staff then their responsibilities must also be master’s level.

Expectations

  • If you have an expectation that includes the word immediately, always, or 24/7, reevaluate that expectation
    • This is not applicable to situations such as “Immediately call the police if a student is being chased by an ax murder.” Think more along the lines of “employee must respond to tasks and communications from the Director of Housing immediately.”
  • An employer should not be able to prevent their employee from having employment outside of the organization.
  • Expectations should be updated regularly to fit with current times and technologies.
  • Job expectations are for the job only.

Hiring & Search Committees

  • Ghosting should be left to actual specters. I once asked for any information on next steps for an interview and received an email back a month later. This was not typical. Usually I never heard back.
  • Every search committee needs to have a rubric to evaluate candidates. People have a lot of opinions and implicit biases against (or for) candidates and can easily lose sight of whether a candidate meets the basic qualifications. Rubrics may reduce that.
  • All candidates should be given the position expectations (especially if they are more in-depth than the job description).
  • Group Process for resident assistant candidates is too inconsistent to be used for hiring decisions.
  • All day on-campus interviews are not necessary for every position.
  • “Fit” can be used as a tool of discrimination by hiring committees.

Leadership

  • Never let your staff find out news about your department from the student or local newspaper.
  • If a senior level professional only appears at meetings to give bad news then they are not effectively leading their department.
  • Leaders should not rely on their direct reports to inform them of student and entry level staff well-being. Instead they should ascertain it themselves.
  • The higher in the hierarchy you are the more likely you are not receiving the full picture.

On-Call

  • Being on-call should be responding to emergency situations – not providing services offered during the day after/before hours.
  • Even if no calls are received there is a burden experienced simply by holding the phone.
  • I do not believe the prevalent form of on-call (admins who work all day and hold a phone for a day or a week) is anything other than cost-effective.

Professional Development

  • “We will do professional development in house” is a statement that is 99% guaranteed to fail
  • Every professional should receive some funding to attend a conference
  • If staff are not being professionally developed then the organization is not adequately preparing itself to respond to a changing educational environment.

Salary

  • STOP HIDING THE SALARY.
    • I am looking at you “commensurate with experience” or “competitive”
  • A master’s level live-in professional should make no less than $35,000 annually. Honestly, I want to say $40,000. We have advanced degrees, crippling student loan debt, a 50% burnout rate, are essential personnel, have irregular work schedules, often work over 40 hours a week, and have very limited advancement opportunities.
  • “Other duties as assigned” is not a justification for a static salary and regularly increase responsibilities.
  • A salaried position does not justify regular work weeks above 40 hours.

Staffing

  • A staff should be representative of your student population or more diverse.
  • If staff are doing the work typically assigned to another person then they should receive some form of compensation for that additional work – especially if it lasts a month or longer.
  • Hire enough staff to cover responsibilities.
  • Re-organizing a department without involving the staff that are being reorganized is a mistake.

Training

  • “Fundatory” or “forced fun” activities are not fun.
  • Team-building is important…  but not for multiple days in a row.
  • Current research is suggesting the use of online modules to facilitate learning. Even ACUHO-I has an RA 101 online course. Use your institution’s learning management system to create better training and curate the content.
  • A person responsible for training should receive additional training in curriculum or training design.
  • Only certain training sessions should be mandatory for returning staff members
    • Title IX and Emergency response come to mind as important sessions to be reviewed annually.
  • Planning for training should not begin in the summer.