The Great Colleges to Work For program now in its ninth year continues to deliver valued results like never before. Using survey research to determine the key success factors that distinguish great colleges, the partnership between The Chronicle of Higher Education and ModernThink LLC has been helping leaders understand and leverage data to build great institutions to work for since 2008. The efforts of the program have effectively shaped the foundation for what it takes to be a “great college,” and this year’s Honor Roll institutions exemplify the four strategic pillars that make up this foundation.
- Senior Leadership. When assessing their Senior Leader teams, faculty and staff look for two traits: credibility and capability. Senior leaders establish credibility through interactions that build trust and through behaviors that are consistent, reliable, and reflect integrity. Faculty and staff are also looking for leaders who show capability—they must demonstrate that they have the knowledge, skills, and experience to effectively lead the institution.
- Communication. Employees rely on transparent and interactive communication to understand what’s going on, solve problems, get ideas across, and ultimately fuel progress. Regarding transparency, it is vital that institutions are open concerning both good and bad news, provide the context and rationale for decisions, and ensure that the campus community receives regular and timely updates. In addition to modeling transparency, it is also important to foster interactive communication that creates opportunities for two-way exchanges. Healthy dialogue will help employees feel that they can provide input and be heard. Communication is a priority within great workplaces.
- Alignment. Great Colleges demonstrate alignment in their people practices in two key areas: collaboration and contribution. When collaborating, faculty and staff are aligned with each other in furtherance of a goal. They actively support and are supported by one another, enabling them to do their best work. They solicit input from each other and pay little attention to whom gets credit for what. Great Colleges position people to contribute at their highest level; they have the right people in the right jobs and provide them with the training, tools and resources to succeed.
- Respect. The hallmarks of respect within a workplace are fairness and acknowledgment. Institutions with an intentional focus on building an equitable culture treat employees fairly regardless of personal attributes or position. In addition to being treated fairly, people want to be acknowledged. Therefore, it is important that rewards, recognition, and feedback are specific and regular and that they motivate faculty and staff to treat each other well and do their best work. In great workplaces as in life, respect breeds respect.
Your institution’s path to creating a culture of engagement does not have to be long or complicated. Learning from the best of the best – especially in the areas of Senior Leadership, Communication, Alignment and Respect – can provide great insight and motivation. For a more in-depth look at the program and how institutions grow to reach the Honor Roll, watch our webinar on “Lessons from the Best – Insights and Best Practices from The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For® program.” The deadline to participate for the 2016 program is February 15, 2016. For more information about the survey and program, contact Suzi Schmittlein at 302.764.4477 or firstname.lastname@example.org HERC members are eligible for a discount on custom surveys within the program.
Author: Rich Boyer, Senior Consultant, ModernThink