It is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

We finally are here! I don’t know about you, but this is my absolute favorite time of the year: student staff training and move in time. I love everything about the excitement and nerves of new students, and think it is so amazing to see everyone come together to welcome first year students and transfers.

As you read this, I will be on my way up to Estes Park and day two of Hall Director training. The Residence Life Department at Colorado School of Mines is pretty unique.  There are three Residence Life Coordinators, and we each supervise student Hall Directors.  The Hall Directors supervise the Resident Assistants. I was drawn to Mines for a number of reasons, but really resonated with the philosophy to empower students to supervise their peers and take ownership of their experience. I love when students train other students; I think if done properly it can be highly effective.  One of my presentations for Hall Director training is on students supervising students. Though this is only part of the presentation I’m using for student staff, I want to share it with you all. Some of these tips might prove helpful if you are new to supervision, or are working on a supervision presentation. 

1. Get to know your supervisees.
  • Set 1:1 meetings early in the semester and stick to a schedule.
  • Ask questions.
  • Create a “get to know you” sheet and have your staff fill it out. Make a point of referencing things on the sheet. If you include their favorite candy/treat on the “get to know you sheet” bring their favorite items to a staff meeting.
2. Set expectations. Communicate.
  • Create boundaries, make the boundaries clear, and stick to the boundaries.
  • Set expectations as a team and with individual staff members.
  • Encourage your staff to set goals and refer to individual’s goals frequently.
  • Your expectations might change as the semester progresses so make sure you clearly communicate with your staff.
3. Give thoughtful feedback/Ask for feedback.
  • Learn each staff member’s communication style.
  • Set expectations regarding e-mails, text messages, and phone calls.
  • Send updates, reminders, and don’t be afraid to over communicate. Don’t forget confidentiality (FERPA)!
4. Recognize hard work.
  • There are two types of feedback: positive and constructive. Don’t forget to praise people when they are successful and point out areas of improvement when the time is appropriate.
5. Recognize achievements.  
  • Learn how your staff likes to be recognized. Some people appreciate public recognition while others prefer to get recognized individually or through a note/e-mail.
  • Write thank you notes or write notes to let your staff know you are thinking about them.
  • Be creative and have fun with recognition. Have a weekly staff spotlight, but make sure each of your staff members has a week.
6. Treat staff fairly.
  •  However, you can’t necessarily treat everyone the “same” because everyone is different! Recognize unique strengths, qualities, and identities of individuals.
7. Have difficult conversations.
  • Prepare in advance. Take notes. Rehearse with your supervisor.
  • Ask your co-workers for advice and support.
  • Ask yourself what you are hoping to get out of the conversation and why?
  • Follow up.
  • Document, Document, Document. Make sure to take a few follow up notes of your conversation.
8. Ask for help.  We want you to be successful, and you can’t do everything alone. You are a student too! Never, ever be afraid to ask someone for help!

9. Take pride in your work.
  • You are awesome and you were selected to supervise for a reason. Take pride in your work.
  • Be confident in your ability to lead a team. Learn from others. You were hired for this position because other believed in your ability.
10. Be You.  
  • Authenticity is the key! Know your strengths, abilities, and skills.
  • Be real with your staff and set appropriate boundaries.
Bonus Tip: Have fun!!!!
Disclaimer: These are just a few things I’ve learned over the last few years. By no means is this a comprehensive list, but it is a good starting point for discussion. Supervision is very personal and I truly believe you need to make it your own, and it does change based on your experiences. What would you add to the list? Any tips you would give to a student who is supervising other students? Send your tips to me on twitter.

Until next week,

Stefanie Lucas-Waverly

Student Affairs - the First Years

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