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Dr. Ashley Hall is an adjunct instructor in the Rusche College of Business at Stephen F. Austin State University
Working with administration can be a challenge. Whether you’re requesting funding for something, proposing a new idea, or seeking input on a challenging situation, faculty can have a wide range of experiences when it comes to getting what they need from administration. Some administrators operate with an open-door policy, while others are more structured and have limited one-on-one communication with faculty. So how do you communicate your needs in a way that stands out from the other requests administration is bombarded with on a daily basis?
Here are four actionable ideas to help you as you try to get what you need from your administration.
1. Rely on Facts and Logic
When you’re communicating with administrators, whether in person, in writing, or on the phone, be aware of your word choice. You should avoid using emotion-based communication and stick with the facts and logic instead. Aim to present a logical argument that helps administration easily understand what you are asking for and why it is needed.
2. Use Data
To support your facts, be sure to use data when appropriate. This can help strengthen your argument and can be a powerful persuasive tool. The key is to use the right amount of data to support your claim without overwhelming the recipient. Stick with incorporating a few key facts but have more available should the administrator ask for additional information.
3. Tie the Request to Strategic Initiatives
Is your request somehow related to a strategic initiative of your department, college, or university? If so, be sure to make the connection obvious. By tying your request to identified goals and initiatives, you can bolster support for your idea.
People often wonder, “What’s in it for me?” and highlighting the connections can help administration see the value of your idea.
4. Propose Solutions – Don’t Just Complain
Bringing up issues to administration is unavoidable. However, be mindful of whether you’re just complaining or seeking a mutually agreed-upon solution. When possible, propose solutions to the pain points you are bringing up. The administrator may not unilaterally implement your idea, but at least it shows that you have thought through the problem and aimed to come up with some possible ideas to solve it.
Likewise, approach challenging situations with a “How might we?” approach. We all know that budgets are tight and the demands on faculty and institutions are high. However, this should not be an excuse to just throw our hands up in the air and deem the situation unsolvable. Approach challenges with a sense of curiosity. When brainstorming with others who have an innovative view, you may be surprised by the unique problem-solving ideas generated.
These four easy ideas will help make your interactions with administration more persuasive, helping you get what you need for you and your classroom.
Faculty have been under unique pressures from administration and students over the past few years, with expectations for their roles constantly changing. To learn more about how real instructors have felt their roles change over the last several years, download the Cengage Faces of Faculty report.