Sunday, March 28, 2010

The College Administrator’s Survival Guide

Gunsalus, C. K. The College Administrator’s Survival Guide. Harvard UP, Massachusetts: 2006.

Chapter 1: “Embrace Your Fate”

- “Force yourself to express your goals in a few simple declarative sentences” (13).

- “You’ve raised some good points. I need some time to think about them. Ill get back to you next week” (16).

- “Before assuming, ask” (20).

- “One of the biggest administrative mistakes you can make is to act on only one version of a story that involves multiple players” (26).

- “For you to be able to achieve your other goals, you need them to see you as fair and objective in your treatment of problem situation; you need their trust and respect” (30).

- “May the god of boundaries bless your leadership” (32).

- “It’s a truism that everyone in universities feels powerless: undergraduates are at the mercy of everyone, their teaching assistants…. Feel they are at the bottom of the power curve, assistant professors feel disenfranchised and powerless, associate professors worry about those who can vote on their promotion, full professors must jockey for positions and perks, and department heads know they have very little real power” (22).

- “Academia is filled with insecure overachievers who-no matter how high their obective level of achievement or recognition- fear that they’re not worthy of their success and that at any moment they may be exposed as frauds” (36).

- “Who are the stakeholders, the people who may be affected by any decisions you make? What policies apply to each of his requests? What precedents exist or may be set by your decisions? And how quickly do you have to decide?” (37).

- “Whatever it takes, avoid making any commitment on the spot” (42).

Chapter 2: “Know Your Colleagues”

- “A large majority of the most difficult problems are caused by a small fraction of the people in any environment; you’ll spend far more time dealing with them than you ever imagined or wanted” (45).

- “Collegiality does not mean tolerating any and all conduct in a professional setting” (52).

- “All too often in academia, department heads think they are sending discouraging signals when, in fact, they are sending mixed or even reinforcing signals for behavior that is detrimental” (61).

Chapter 3: “Negotiation”

- “Think about it: you cannot force others to change; in a highly charged situation, the only facto you truly control is your own behavior. And changing your behavior….can have powerful effect on the outcome” (70).

- “Try saying less and negotiating more, and watch what happens” (70)

- “The catch is that you must be comfortable being the authority figure- or at least e able to act as if you’re thoroughly comfortable in the role” (71).

- “The single most powerful way to increase your influence on others in your daily negotiations is to learn to listen more effectively, more intensely, and more genuinely” (72).

- “….becoming more aware of body language- your own and that of others” (74).

- “Because being heard, being understood, is a surprisingly strong and basic human need that is all too rarely met, and shaping your own verbal and nonverbal communication to match another person’s sends a signal that you do hear and understand her” (75).

- “A prepared negotiator is a more effective negotiator” (77).

- “The same is true when a person wants something from you: if you have not thought about that person’s interests, you are not prepared” (78).

- “….’win-win’ situations, in which both parties feel they have gained something from a negotiation and the relationship is preserved” (80).

- “Establishing a human connection at the beginning is very important to positive outcomes” (83).

- “Cultivate likeability. Civility and cordiality are often undervalued in this world, where too many people think the most effective way to achieve their goals is through aggressive conduct” (83).

- “….find out what the other party wants, and most important, to discover the whys” (84).

- “To repeat: identify interests-the other party’s and your own- and note differences between the two that may provide opportunities to create value for both of you” (85).

- “…frame what you say in terms of the interests she has expressed, while being honest about your own interests. Remember that arguments expressed in terms of her interests will be more persuasive to her than ones expressed in terms of your own” (87).

- “Because negotiations tend to anchor on irrelevant information, you must be vigilant” (87).

- “….people are much more satisfied with outcomes when they feel that they have influenced the results- that they have achieved something by negotiating” (88).

- “Do not forget, at the end of your negotiation, to restate, aloud, the deal you believe you’ve made” (90).

- “Whatever you do, don’t gloat as you close the negotiation, even if you feel you’ve won an overwhelming victory” (91).

- “To thrive as a person whose professional role is to work with others, you need strong insights into your own preferences and styles for dealing with conflict” (93).

- “Don’t ask the impossible of yourself… just preserve possibilities” (93).

- “…Don’t let it be about you. Focus on the principles, the problems, and the goals” (94).

- “Think about whether, in winning the battle, you might lose the war” (94).

Chapter 4: “Complaints”

- “Many people will seek your guidance about problems that you didn’t cause and may not be able to fix” (98).

- “Cultivate a reputation for trustworthiness by keeping confidences” (100).

- “Now that I’ve listened carefully to you, I need to find out what the other people involved have to say. I’ll get back to you after I do that” (101).

- “If you find yourself tempted to say ‘That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,’ bite your tongue, and don’t speak until you’ve translated your response into something softer and more appropriate to your role: ‘I’m not sure I understand this; will you please explain it again?” (103).

- When in doubt, leave it out” (104).

- In the absence of facts, people make them up” (106).

- “Contemporaneous notes are much more useful that subsequent re-creations” (106)

- thank them for coming in to talk to you, remind them that you will get back to them

- Trust your instincts if you are fearful” (107).

- “In American society, rehabilitation requires taking responsibility, feeling remorse, vowing to reform, and , where possible, offering recompense” (113).

- “think about what a university is trying to achieve from the perspective of its multiple constituencies” (114). Undergraduate students want something different out of the university than graduate students, professors, alumni, parents of students, stakeholders, the community etc.

- “Prepare in advance for your talk… because you will want to keep this first conversation focused on your agenda and not let it be deflected onto other topics

Chapter 5: “Bullies”

- “If you have a firm understanding of what academic freedom is and what it is not, you’ll be better prepared to cope with those who try to distort the concept for their own ends” (124).

- “First, try to identify and describe a pattern in what you observing….Second, sketch out a general strategy…..Finally, it is tremendously helpful to outline the points you wish to communicate and practice how you’ll say them” (127).

- “Some people’s eyes work better than their ears, and you want to be sure [he/she] gets your message” (128).

- “But the key point to hold in mind is that significant positive change can be achieved, given the right mindset, some patience, and persistence” (130).

- “The corrective changes involve moving the boundaries closer to the acceptable range incrementally and gradually. So don’t try to change everything at once: focus on what really matters” (132).

- “Life is pretty short to buy trouble…” (133).

- “It takes more than one person to change an environment” (134).

- “Genuine responses to nastiness are powerful” (134).

- “As a result, staying positive, calm, and clear is central to succeeding in these situations” (135).

- “Be persistant, positive and above all, calm” (140).

- “Everyone in the department will be reassured if you are fair and firm and focused on the issues- and if they see that you will not permit personal attacks” (140)

Chapter 6: “When Not to Improvise”

- Process and procedure are your friends….Perceptions of power matter…..Focus on conduct, not motive….Less is more in a dispute…Don’t over explain” (147-149).

Chapter 7: “Violations”

- “Graduate students perceive an enormous amount of exploitation or abuse of themselves and their colleagues” (176).

- “…you are not being asked to become the bedroom police” (194).

- “…remember that your job is to keep the greater good of your department and your institution in mind” (196).

- “Not only can policies and procedures be your friend when you are in charge of the process, they can be your friend when you’re the target, too” (202).

- “Prepare well; think through what needs to happen, and in what order” (202).

- “NO stain will attach to your reputation the way it will if you ignore the problem and it mushrooms or your nonresponse is seen as quiet collusion” (209).

- “the idea is for you to stay centered and balanced so you can help everyone navigate a difficult situation in the most constructive way possible. Keep the big picture in mind, and understand that there will probably be some painful moments. Even if you extend yourself to the maximum degree to respect the dignity (and the presumed innocence) of all concerned, there are going to be aspects of these situations that are just plain uncomfortable. Try to see them in context. Persevere. And then, go home and take care of yourself” (211).

Chapter 8: “Centering”

- “When was the last time you heard someone respond to being called stupid by saying ‘Oh, you’re right, thanks?’” (214).

- “… you can be friendly, but not friends” (215).

- “…let actions have their logical (but nonpunitive) consequences” (223).

- “People are more likely to cooperate when they feel they and their work are recognized and valued” (224).

- “The praise has to be plausible, it has to be related to the job… and you have to mean it…..needn’t always be public….Don’t praise what people are… but what they do, or even what they could do if they saw in themselves the potential that you see. Focus on the efforts they make that contribute...” (225).

- “By giving praise and encouragement, you give something rare and valuable, and sometimes even memorable” (225).

- “It’s your job, as an administrator, to provide and environment that beings out the best in people” (225).

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