We’re bound to make assumptions in our professional lives.
But knowing the old saying about assumptions, it’s important to consult with appropriate, diverse perspectives (and data whenever we can!) to make informed decisions and hopefully avoid future problems or barriers.
This holds true for making bold assumptions about the competencies and capacities of student affairs employees, including your supervisees and coworkers.
This isn’t to say that your teammates might be unqualified. Rather, I’m encouraging you to recognize that everyone has certain strengths and areas for improvement. If we — as leaders, managers, and individuals — aren’t transparent and aware of areas for further professional development, we’ll set ourselves up for failure in assigning responsibilities, taking on new initiatives, and relying on one another for support.
Recently, I’ve seen many conversations (and concerns) about this very topic and how the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing assumptions of competency and capacity to light. A majority of institutions are making rapid changes to their operations and charging employees with added responsibilities in order to best serve students.
Institutional adjustments like these can put incredible burdens and strain upon people, processes, and elements of practice which may already have had inefficiencies or were in need of major improvements anyway.
As I expressed in my tweet above, we need to understand the competencies and capacities of our teammates in order to best serve students. Without that knowledge, we’ll likely stretch ourselves to the point of breaking, causing harm to both ourselves and the students we are trying to support.
But here’s the good news: We can be proactive and set ourselves up for success!
Although we can’t predict the next crisis, we can proactively shape an agenda for professional development by leveraging known areas for improvement or desired further learning.
Not clear where to start? No worries. I’m going to give you 12 methods to support professional development for your team. Although I’ve structured these with some thematic grouping, they are not listed by priority nor in any particular order.