Attitude Check

While I was reading Ryan Bye’s most recent post, Are We There Yet?, I thought to myself, what can I do to make sure that I help my staff finish strong and to make sure that I finish strong? One of the first things I thought of was how our attitudes impact our performance. Our attitudes also impact the people surrounding us and their attitudes. It’s all really a domino effect with the results determined by how much control one has over his or her attitude and his or her response to the attitudes of others.

We should always be trying to be better versions of ourselves, and we should always be helping our staffs and students want to be better versions of themselves. I think this sense of “striving to be the best you” is important when we look at our attitudes and our responses to situations. Programs, initiatives, policies, and paperwork will inevitably be a part of our "next year." Helping our student staff members approach these changes with positive attitudes can help impact how those changes are perceived and implemented. We also have to remember how influential the attitudes of returning staff members are to our new staff members, just as our attitudes impact our staffs.

What are we doing to provide more than a, “This is what we’re doing because I said so,” answer when our students ask for the rationale behind an initiative or a change in procedure? Why are we so afraid and resistant when they want to know more? Is it so bad that they have invested interests in what we’re all doing and that they want to know the why behind the what?

I don’t think it is so bad. The conversations that I’ve gotten to have with student staff members about the importance of (and research behind) a six-weeks curriculum, completing and utilizing MAP-Works data, developing programs that effectively assess the needs of their floors, and filling out budget proposals adequately are some of the best conversations I get to have. These conversations help change their attitudes—and their perspectives—in regard to altered programming expectations, the implementation of department initiatives, and administrative details. My staff members have more ownership when they are allowed to the method behind our madness. They try harder and they do their jobs better.

Incoming staff members are aware of this attitude. They feel the grounds before jumping in and deciding how they are going to approach their positions. If they sense that there is buy-in from the returning staff members to the work that is being done, they’re more likely to have similar levels of buy-in. The attitudes that we have for the jobs that we’re doing rubs off on them all! If we’re excited and transparent, they are likely to be excited and transparent.

So, as we race towards that finish line that signifies the end of another semester or term and gear up for next year, we need to be aware of our attitudes and the attitudes of our staffs. Even when we don’t always like or agree with something, if we put a smile on our face and move through it, we’re more likely to be faced with positive results and better experiences. If we can provide our staff with some insight to changes that are coming, they will have more ownership in how they will be charged with implementing those changes. If we ask them for their input so processes can be more effective and “user friendly,” they will be excited to follow through.

What are you doing to be aware of your attitude—and to help your staffs be aware of their attitudes—even with how busy we all are this time of year? How are these attitudes already influencing the dynamics of your future staff?

I’m thankful for the job that I have, the education that I’m receiving, and for everyone in my life. Sure, there are things that happen that aren’t always the most ideal, but I am in control of my attitude. My response to those situations should not be so altering that I forget how thankful and how lucky I truly am.

In faith,

Sara Hazel Harrison  

Student Affairs - the First Years

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