January 2004 Issue
Management Strategies & Tips
By Jan Norton, Missouri Western State College
Learning Center Resolutions
I’ll start by admitting that New Year’s Resolutions are cliché and often unfulfilled. Even so, many of us remain tempted to see the start of a new year as a perfect time to change habits and improve our self-efficacy. So think of the following resolutions as just suggestions for how you might be able to make your learning center a better place.
“This year I’ll keep better track of our clients.”
GOOD! As a manager, you need good data to evaluate and justify your efforts, so consider either improving the accuracy or expanse of the information you are currently collecting.
“This year I’ll do some research.”
If the idea of doing research is scary or dreadful, rephrase the statement and fill in the blank: “This year I’ll be curious about ___________” That’s the core of research, just being curious about how well or why things work as they do. If you first explore your curiosity in a fairly casual way, you can always refine your answer-finding process so that you can do more formal research.
“This year I’ll make better use of my time.”
This can be a daunting pursuit, and small steps are needed in order to change years of habits, but sometimes the key to success with time management is as simple as finding a more suitable calendar format. Perhaps you need to have some discussions with your supervisor or check out some resources about managing multiple projects. If you decide to include your staff members in this resolution, you will probably find that they can serve as a support group and may in fact want to join you in this resolution so that everyone benefits.
“This year I’ll be nicer to my staff.”
Sometimes this is hard if you let your staff define what “nicer” means. If people are working only for money and you have no way to change their compensation, then you may be out of luck. But most people want their jobs to be meaningful, and they want to be appreciated for their unique individual contributions. As a manager, you do have the capacity to discover their motivations and give them ways to be proud of their efforts in your learning center.
“This year I’ll do something for my own professional development.”
Obviously there are conferences and training sessions you can attend, but this resolution doesn’t have to cost money. Maybe you just need to set aside some reading time. Plan to visit a nearby college and see how those programs are working. Join a listserv. Explore the expanse of internet resources. Write up that article you’ve been thinking about. Or pursue any of the previous resolutions, since all of them can lead to worthwhile professional development.
Whatever your professional resolutions are this year, I wish you success in fulfilling them.