Years ago, a colleague of mine was asked by his fiancé for help making decisions for their wedding. He declined. Whatever she wanted would be fine. Then she started making decisions. Oops! Turns out, he had opinions about things he had never before known he had opinions on. They worked it through and did have a wedding, but I suspect they had some opportunities to work on their relationship discussion skills in the process.
Similarly, early in my career I had to talk with a staff member I had hired who was struggling in the job. He thought I had not been clear in my expectations. I thought, given his level of experience, these behaviors would have been norms. It was one of the first times I realized I had learned something growing up with two parents who worked outside the home in administrative-type positions that I never knew I had learned. It was an important insight into my unconscious assumptions and was a good lesson for me as a supervisor.
Of course, I have to give staff my expectations, but I also have to be clear for myself as to what those expectations are. Now I try to be clear for myself what my opinions/expectations are, so I can be clear about them when it comes to staff performance and the standards of excellence for our division.
A couple of years ago, I realized I had an expectation that I had not made clear and I gave the Student Affairs Council a “pop quiz”. I gave essentially the same quiz today (see below) to make a point.
I have an expectation that we know as much as possible about our university. This is a standard of excellence that allows us to do our work tasks more effectively and serve our students more successfully. The list of questions below is the tip of the iceberg of information that is our university, and I have an expectation that all of us can answer these 9 questions. Test yourself – before you click on the answers, see how many you can answer. Then, if you miss a few, learn them.
And then take a moment and ask yourself two questions.
• What are some of my hidden/unspoken opinions/expectations that are getting in the way of work or communication with others? I hope you will find a way to share them that helps improve things.
• What information about UTSA would help me do my job better? I hope, no, I expect that you’ll find the answer to that question and then share it with the rest of us so we can learn from you.
1. Name of the president of UTSA.
2. How long has he been the president? (Bonus points for his field of study/athletic fame.)
3. Names of Vice Presidents
4. How many colleges at UTSA and what are the names?
5. Name the Deans of the colleges. (Bonus points for knowing the other four deans on campus.)
6. Names of Student Affairs AVPs plus names of 4 other AVP’s at UTSA.
7. Name of the Chief Information Security Officer.
8. GRIP – What does this stand for?
9. Approximately how many students do we have?
In the spirit of full disclosure, at the Student Affairs Council meeting we forgot one Dean. Dorothy Flannagan is Dean of the Graduate School. We all have plenty to learn about our campus.