As aspiring campus and current campus administrators know well, some of us too well, preparing and securing an administrative position is an arduous task. For those fortunate enough to gain employment in campus administration, congratulations. Now it’s time to get to work. Getting the position is nothing compared to the enjoyable and interesting times ahead of you.
When a new president is elected in this country there are the inevitable comparisons of each president’s first 90 days in office. Over the decades, some have thrived early on and created a future defined from this time. Some have not thrived early in their tenure and have found the work following it to be more difficult than they would have liked it to be for them. Although a president’s work ends up in our history books and thus gets more visibility. This type of scenario plays out in campuses throughout our country each year. The work they do on a campus is no less important, if not more, to those who inhabit their building on a daily basis.
The first days, weeks, and months you are on a campus will define your work going forward. The goodwill and trust one can develop during this initial time will allow you to accomplish meaningful work for your campus in future years. This initial meaningful work can look different depending on the campus environment you inherit upon arrival. There are some tried, and trusted methods which can steer you in the proper direction for success on your new campus.
- First, foremost, smile. Carry yourself with the same emotion you had when you were offered this position. People gravitate to positive people and repel the negative ones.
- Provide effort to your position. Eventually, you will be judged on your production and results, but during this grace period people want to see how hard you are willing to work. For example, deliver textbooks to classrooms for teachers, mop the floors, and do it all with a smile on your face.
- Beware of those who befriend you with exuberance. This is not unique to campuses. There are those who hope to curry favor and look to improve their position on campus by kissing your backside. Nearly all of the others in the building know who these people are and are awaiting to see how your reaction is to their overtures.
- Repeat after me. Never tell your new campus “this is how we did it on my previous campus.” Unless you came from a gold star campus who met all of your states distinctions just keep silent on your past experiences. Show them your experiences by producing results. Too often administrators like to embellish their past to give them more confidence at the new one. In today’s digital age, it’s a bad idea. Your past will follow you to your new gig. Own up to it.
- Don’t legislate via email. This approach makes you look weak and fearful. When you do have to email information it should be to spread good news or follow-up from something you presented face to face with them. Also, in those emails, avoid “I” and focus on “we”.
- Be passionate in all endeavors. Your every move is being watched. If you clean up spilled milk with the same passion as you do when leading instruction you will be welcomed into the conversation.
- Your title does not make you a leader. Your employment title does not make you a leader. Your position does not make you a leader. I could go on and on here, but it is clear. People will listen to you initially because of the title you were employed for in the district. They will follow you afterward if they believe you are a leader who wants to empower them in their position.
- Don’t be a travel agent. Don’t ask your faculty and staff to go where you are not willing to go yourself.
- Be about them and not about yourself. Safe and protected employees create the trust and goodwill needed for meaningful success in the future. View the video below to see more on this topic.
Getting hired and being given the keys to the campus is an awesome responsibility. Embrace the challenges ahead and pursue success with energy.
What do you think is important for a new administrator to possess or perform when arriving at a new campus? Feedback is always welcome in this arena.