Buses are quickly and easily associated with the educational industry, so it only seemed fitting to utilize Jim Collins’ analogy for departments within higher education.
What does it look like when your “bus” is moving in the right direction? The answer is simple. Profitable and painless. That sounds great, right? Then why are there so many daily stressors and aggravations for those in higher ed – low enrollment, too few resources, and poor marketing performance? Before you look elsewhere for the answers, we suggest you start in your own office.
Are the right people on your bus? Your bus may consist of years and depth of experience and talent, but is everyone able to work together towards a common goal and with the same/similar sense of purpose? You see this often in professional sports teams when a team is comprised of an extreme talent base, however they are unable to win any games all season.
Change does not happen in a stagnant environment. This does not mean that you need a complete overhaul of your staff or department, however it does mean that a re-evaluation of people’s roles and expectations may be worth taking a closer look at. Are you using the talent(s) of your employees to move your bus in the right direction? Do your employees feel valued and are they working together to achieve greatness for the good of your institution and the students that are/have attending it?
This all sounds great, so how do work to make sure the right people are on the bus and sitting in the right seats? Conversation. Discuss the internal values and desires of your department as a whole and what each individual is comfortable in contributing towards that goal. Create a systematic action plan on moving the bus in the right direction and a deadline for when you would like to see things progressing in that direction. Low enrollment numbers? Your enrollment(s) would be like the top layer of a cake. What does it take to get from the base of the cake to the top? Are you bringing in the appropriate number of leads? Are these leads qualified, etc? If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions, then what could you do to make a positive transition and who could you put on the bus to assist with that?
We recently completed a similar exercise with our team internally at JMH and learned a great amount regarding our values as a company and the contributions felt that they were able to provide. As a whole, our company is now continuing to move our bus in the right direction and our employees feel that they are an asset to our movement.