As of Tuesday, March 5th, 2013, I have been an employee of Emmanuel College for six months! It feels simultaneously as though I just got there, and as though I’ve been there forever. The atmosphere has grown comfortable, and I’m continuing to learn how things work and where I fit in the hierarchy. But rather than allowing the adjustment period to overwhelm me, Ive used it to observe how the office works, noting points of improvement along the way (as I’ve alluded to many times before, the “orange power cords” of the office).
I’ve approached explaining my role with a sense of humor. When people ask what I do, I list my full title “Assistant Director of Student Activities for Involvement and Assessment, and Coordinator of Commuter Services”, sometimes taking a dramatic inhale between words, and then instantly joke that it is three lines on a business card. As is often the case in student affairs work, there is never a shortage of work to be done.
But I’m taking on something else or, as Dave Kerpen puts it, am giving myself a promotion. When Kerpen speaks about giving oneself a promotion, it’s not in the sense of taking tasks from someone else, or even in creating extra work for oneself. The way I see it, enacting a “self-promotion” is filling a need that either (a) hasn’t been identified, or (b) is something that I alone can provide.
So what new role am I giving myself?
Minister of Unobstructed Understanding.
Allow me to elaborate. As we look ahead to the next semester and into next year, I am starting to go over assessment results from our student organization officers. We have an inordinate number of juniors and seniors in officer positions that feel as though they never learned how to do their jobs. Too many of them don’t know how to competently complete the paperwork required to conduct business, and those that do know have no idea why they have to do these things. What sorts of things hinder understanding? Changes to policy that make things easier for staff, but a little more elaborate for students. Blind trust that students will communicate well with each other. Assumptions- in as many ways as that word can be applied.
To put it simply, I want to change that.
So what are some of the duties assigned to this ministry post? My first major task is to overhaul the student organization and advisor handbooks. Presently, the two documents are a mishmash of roughly understood guidelines, but rules listed are inconsistent across them. What’s more, the bulk of the text in the advisor handbook was simply lifted from the student handbook without changing who the directions are directed toward. My goal is to have one document assigned to both groups, with clear instructions on how things get done, and why they are done the way they are.
There are so many more elements to this position that I could elaborate on (like making feedback easier to provide, continuing to push for more educational workshops, and making interactions with advisors more common and interactive), but won’t. The way I see it, there is one duty: to make our office, its purpose, and its processes, easy and clear. Even if the process can’t be simplified any further, I want anyone participating to understand why it needs to be done that way. Holding this ministry position closely as I examine how I do my work, it will help me direct efforts toward a goal. Particularly for someone who can quickly complicate things, it will be a good reminder to me to keep things simple.
If you had to “promote” yourself in your office, what role would you fill? What duties would go along with it?