Navigating Conflict- by Paulette Hansen

It’s impossible to avoid conflict at home, at work, in life in general.  It’s impossible to choose whether or not to have conflict, we can only choose how to respond in the face of a conflict.  We can deny, avoid, give up, or walk away, but those actions leave our problem unresolved which can lead to resentment, inaction and sometimes guilt.  What if we could come up with a creative and collaborative resolution instead?

First, let’s dissect conflict.  If you prefer chocolate ice cream and I prefer vanilla, there is no conflict.  We have our own preferences.  Agreeing to disagree is fine.  If we can only afford to buy one flavor, we have a conflict because scarcity is involved.  The conflict turns to an operational one when we can only buy one flavor.

Resolving conflict takes many of our best skills, a willingness to listen and inquire, ability to advocate for what we want, and to make our opinions clear.  First and foremost we must always consider the personal component.  It is important to remember the relationships and personal concerns of those involved.  One of the most common errors in conflict resolution is to forget about these two levels and jump directly to negotiating the task.  Setting the context of the conflict and our desire to resolve it in a mutually beneficial way that preserves your relationship can go a long way.

Once you have addressed the emotional component as best you can, resolving the conflict at the operational level is next.  Going to deeper concerns can help both parties determine what they really want.  Identifying what is rigid and what is flexible can help.  Asking yourself and the other person what is more important to you than the thing itself.  For example, if you found yourself in a conflict about priorities for your team, asking the person (with whom you disagreed) what was important to them about their choice, could help you understand what they really care about.  They might care more about meeting the schedule than adding another feature to your product.  Having that information could allow you to find an alternative you will both be happy with.

There are times when we cannot resolve a conflict on our own.  At that point, we can agree to a formal consensus mechanism.  This could be majority rule, arbitration or deferring to a manager.  This is only to be used in extreme cases as a last alternative.

Effective negotiation brings people together.  Organizations capable of navigating and resolving their conflicts creatively and collaboratively can create new realities, generate authentic relationships, and add value to our clients.

Paulette

Majority rule is four wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.  -Anonymous

Are we Reaching Students Through Their Preferred Channels?

It feels right to create support departments, on campus, that are staffed with friendly, caring and efficient staff to assist your students.

But is that based on an old communication paradigm? Do they really need us when they’re already on campus – or would they be more inclined to engage with us actively if they could reach us in the “locations” they frequent more like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and perhaps most importantly text messaging?

There’s not doubt that innovative schools are using these tools — but mostly it seems like an afterthought, and certainly they haven’t become the primary source of connection — we still prefer: “Come to my office,” or “call me.” What if we reached them where they live and made these alternative channels – our primary channels?

One of the advantages of this strategy is the incredible information that can be gathered from tracking and monitoring these communication channels – unlike office visits and phone calls, we can capture all the keywords, common phrases, frequent questions – and now we have real science to inform our resources (human and web-based), and improve the information we give students in the first place.

I suspect there are some instances when a real person cannot be replaced – but I’m beginning to believe that we could increase student satisfaction and engagement, while also reducing cost-to-serve, by employing robust, high-tech contact center strategies and tracking technologies.

The Real Danger in the College Enrollment Downturn

I was having a discussion with a client about some career services challenges when the conversation turned to projections for the 2014 cohort. “One important thing to remember” I said, “is that new enrollments are down, so many of the graduate employment issues we are discussing today are going to self-solve in the near future.” Read more

Going “Old School”

Three days per week, I go to the same restaurant, at the same time and order the same thing for breakfast.  Three days per week, as I am standing in line, the same young “Millennial Girl” comes in and literally cuts to the front of the line to place her order.  I appreciate her tactic; she acts as if she is incredibly hurried and is always talking on her cell phone in an attempt (I believe) to appear  as though she is so absorbed in conversation that there is no possible way she could notice the other five people waiting in line in front of her.  No one ever corrects her, and the server always takes her order with no questions asked.  Bravo Millennial Girl, bravo.

I would never hire her in a million years and I suspect she is not well liked at work.  Why?  She hasn’t any manners.   Read more

Winner Winner- Chicken Dinner!

Recently, I had a scheduling conflict which forced me to turn down an offer to conduct an In-Service Workshop on effective communications for a school that I really wanted to visit.  The job came to me via a contact (networking) who was trying to recommend a speaker to someone in her network who asked for a referral.  Follow me?!  Let me bottom line it- seven-degrees of separation at work. Read more

“To be or not to be?” This is the question…

One thing I thoroughly enjoy about LinkedIn is the ability to observe what works with respect to networking and what doesn’t.  LinkedIn is very similar to life; people with original ideas, thoughts and comments get noticed, people seek them out and they are highly interesting.

More often than not I observe people sitting back being “Observers” or “re-posters”  and for those folks I wonder if there is as much true value in social media as we are led to believe; or worse- for the “re-posters” of the world – is social media doing more harm than good? Read more

Are “Experts” killing your business?

Here’s the thing about expertise, when we believe we are Experts- we stop learning, seeking new information, and above all else we stop listening to others.

We’ve all worked with a person who believes they are an expert in many, if not most areas related to their profession.  (Perhaps you’ve been this person at one time) Read more

A Jack of All Trades- Master of None

Not that long ago we were hired to “fix” a career services department for a college school system that was struggling to meet bench in almost all programs. As part of our initial assessment of the department we asked the team what they felt was the root cause of the problem?

One person reported that the problem was poor quality resume’s another felt the problem was the preparedness of the grads for interviews, one person felt they just didn’t have enough hiring employers and another told us that the real problem was they were all overworked, didn’t have enough resources to do their jobs and needed at least three more people in the department. Read more

It’s Already Too Late! (?)

Your accreditation report isn’t due for another nine months or so… so it’s NOT too late!

That said, TODAY is the day to do a “health check” on your placement outcomes. Sure, you already run reports to see how you’re doing. You know your placement results year-to-date like the back of your hand. You might even have a dashboard that shows results by campus, and by program.  But you’ve tracked that before, and still ended up in a rush at the end of the reporting period because one cohort, or one campus was behind…

Here are some important questions to ask yourself now so you can Read more

Faculty – The Career-Readiness Missing Link

We recently attended a fabulous day of faculty development at West Tennessee Business College.  Michael Brandwein, an Emmy Award winning author and speaker, entertained and taught a room of eager faculty and staff.  The focus of his teaching was on engagement strategies for learners — how to make the classroom as engaging as possible.

The transformation tools were incredible — simple to implement and it was easy to see how these tools will make the classroom more engaging and improve learning outcomes.

The real magic for me, however, was in the simple tools that Michael shared to help students see that a JOB was the desired outcome of their time in school.  Simple things, like saying, “we want you to attend class because your employer will want you to attend work — this is preparation for a JOB, not just school.”

How are you working with your faculty to ensure that their language not only engages students, but also sets student expectations and engages them, from day one, in thinking about the end goal — a career!

 

Innovative Idea — Admissions and Placement

In the work we do, we are lucky to work with innovative companies.  One of our clients is currently exploring new products in the Career Services space for higher education.

While conducting market feasibility studies for this new product line, we encountered an innovative new idea that solves several challenges…

The Challenges:

a) Students want to attend programs that offer promising career outcomes

b) Admissions is very limited on what it can say about career outcomes

Out of these facts, came an exciting idea to combine three powerful tools into one interface…

1) Monster.com which provide job seekers with insight into career markets (salaries, job openings within a geographic region, sample job titles, career paths, etc…)

2) Pearson interest assessment tools, which give prospective students an opportunity to assess their skills and interests and match them to potential college degree programs; and

3) a college database that could then suggest colleges within the prospect’s geographic region and make suggestions for best-fit

The leads that would be generated from this interface would come to the school with career interest data attached, and the prospect would already have career market data, from an independent third party resource.

Such an interesting idea to take the interest inventory a step further… and then to marry all of the above with college suggestions.  My client and I are excited to be working on something that could transform the college-to-career lifecycle.

Welcome to the Knowledge Age.  If you have ideas about how to improve this concept, or other career services concepts, email me at: martha@sparrowgroup.biz.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’ve been invited to speak at the annual California Association of Private Post-secondary School Conference in Pasadena, CA this week and as I meet with new and old friends one recurring theme keeps striking up; “we’ve got to get these students working”.  This reminds me of the old expression that the definition of insanity is repeating the same act over and over expecting a different outcome.

Here’s what I mean; year in and year out we all spend the latter part of our summer and early fall trying to get every last placement for our reporting year.  It literally is an “all hands on deck” attitude and approach at every school, which of course is the right thing to do, but is typcially at the expense of our new year’s cohort.  What feels different of late is that it used to be we were trying to reach institutional goals that were typically much higher than what our accreditors set.  Now, it seems that more and more schools are working into the fall to meet the minimum standards set to remain compliant.

So, that’s a bummer.  Here’s the reason to be optimistic!  This shift in outcomes and the amount of effort and difficulty around that, has also caused a paradigm shift in our thinking!  Gone are the days of waiting until the end of a students tenure to start preparing them for the job search, externship and interview processes.  More of our clients are saying to Martha and I are gaining new clients monthly and all of them have the same need- we must get to our students earlier if we want to get higher employment outcomes.

With that in mind, Martha and I are committed to continue to provide all of you with practical, usable, implementable tools that will help you do just that- get in front of the student early and often to prepare them for a postive end result.  If you haven’t yet looked into our Passport Series, you should.  As we receive more feedback from schools who are implementing them we become more convinced that it should be a part of every career colleges curriculum.

Stay-tuned people!

 

It’s that time of year again!

About a month ago Martha and I were discussing how the end of summer is full of deadlines, to-do lists and the beginning of the process of wrapping things up for the year.  It seems funny to think about — that 2012 is nearing an end already — but it is, and with it comes the challenges of doing more with less time to accomplish “it”.

It was through that discussion, along with calls from clients who were looking for last-minute ideas to maximize their placement efforts, that we decided to put together a webinar.  We designed it to help schools with accreditation deadlines looming, to get across the finish line with respect to reporting placement statistics.

We know that historically the toughest challenges this time of year have to do with finding all the grads who have gone MIA, turning over every leaf to find a job for that hard to place grad and to make a call for “All Hands On Deck” to get everyone successfully placed.  This of course requires team-work from every department.

These are just some of the topics we’ll be covering tomorrow along with some creative, dare I say ” brilliant” ideas we’ve picked up to help you get placements immediately!  We call them our “Game Changers” and we are really excited to share them.

So, tune-in tomorrow September 5th, at 2pm EST.  To access the web-based portion of the webinar, go to http://lotuslive.readyshow.com/ and follow the prompts for entering your name, company, email, and the pass code 68257640. For the audio portion, call 1-877-366-0711 (In Canada, use 1-866-627-1651) and, when prompted, enter the pass code 68257640# (the “#” must be included for the audio portion). The webinar will last approximately one hour, including time for a question and answer session. This is a free APSCU member benefit and no pre-registration is required.

Back to School

We educators are like the cobbler’s children — you know the story — even though their father made all the shoes in town, they had the most worn soles and knotted shoelaces in the village.

As educators, we often focus so intently on educating our students, that we fail to implement strong programs to educate our staff and faculty — and likely, we are individually also guilty of failing to make learning a priority.

As I was stuffing school supplies in to my son’s backpack today, I was overcome with the realization that I wished it was me that was going to start 3rd grade next week — the teacher shared that their first unit of inquiry was on “Maps” — how cool would that be to focus on studying maps?

Let’s make ourselves a “back-to-school resolution” (instead of those rapidly-forgotten New Years Resolutions!) — this year, let’s make sure we are putting energy into our own lifelong learning.  What would you like to learn next?  Comment on this post below and share how you are driving lifelong learning in your own world — and throughout your organization.

 

Economy of Time

An Economy of Time

The lack of time, and overabundance of things to get done, is likely one of the greatest health hazards, and career-success hazards in America (probably the world). Ultimately, there’s no easy pill… but I have encountered one piece of advice that has given me a few extra minutes in every day, which ultimately add up to hours each week…

Think of time AS money… yes, that’s different than “time IS money.” We all know it isn’t… I don’t always get paid for the things I spend my time on, but I still have to get them done. That said, if I think of “time AS money,” then I make more careful choices about how I spend it — even to smaller fractions of an hour. Read more