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Higher Education Innovation In Action

  • Eight Lessons Learned in Emotional Intelligence: a Roundup!

    by Rose Addison, Manager of Documentation & Training | Nov 08, 2017

     
    Emotional Intelligence (EQ) – the ability to make emotions work for you, rather than against you – has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years, and for good reason. As it turns out, those who exemplify EQ are easily set apart from those who don’t… Sure, technical knowhow is necessary, however, those of us possessing EQ skills have improved chances to get the job, take home more money, avoid burnout, and lead successful teams.

    Don’t believe me? Take a look at these examples and let them make the case.

    Example 1: Business as Usual?

    Studies have shown emotional intelligence is just as important to employers as technical expertise. In this article, read about a woman working her way up the corporate ladder only to struggle once she got there. The struggle is real, so they say, but improved EQ skills help to resolve conflicts before they even arise.

    3 Benefits of Emotional Intelligence for Today's Business Leaders

    Example 2: Pull Over & Let EQ Drive

    Could IQ really take a backseat to EQ? That might just be the case. Fast Company’s post examines why potential candidates displaying both knowledge and emotional intelligence will always give those without a run for their money!

    7 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is One of the Fastest-Growing Job Skills

    Example 3: Time is Money – So is EQ

    After all is said and done, those touting a higher EQ make an average of $29,000 more annually than their lower EQ counterparts! Yup, you read that right. Not only does EQ contribute to putting more money in the bank, it creates a better sense of work-life balance. Who wouldn’t want that?

    Sorry, but EQ is Way More Important than IQ These Days

    Example 4: The Balancing Act

    Stress, left unattended, can wreak havoc over your life. Have you ever wondered why some people struggle to find a balance while others don’t? In Harvard Business Review’s article, explore why emotional intelligence is the deciding factor. Learn how to lean into your EQ skillset and put some of those old stressors to bed.

    Why Some People Get Burned Out and Others Don't

    Example 5: The Proof is in the Productivity

    In this case study consider how an up-and-coming business was growing leaps and bounds only to be stilted by a weak company culture. That’s when Todd Delano, CEO of ServRx, stepped up to the plate with EQ training, which resulted in engaged and joyful employees.

    Case Study: Doubling Down on EQ Culture at ServRx

    Example 6: Bridging the Generational Gap

    It’s no secret that differences exist between generations. Although each generation has its own advantages, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials possess different influences, work values, communication traits, assets, and liabilities. That’s where EQ steps in. Check out Advance Systems’ post, which explores what we can learn when leading Millennials and what we can learn when we’re led by Millennials.

    EQ and the Future of Work

    Example 7: The Bottom Line Isn’t Always Everything

    It’s no secret, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, intends to make money selling cars but not at the risk of his employee’s safety. When Tesla’s injury rate was on the rise, he was determined to understand and ultimately fix safety issues. Read how Musk leads through emotional intelligence here.

    This Email from Elon Musk to Tesla Employees Is a Master Class in Emotional Intelligence

    Example 8: Failure is Not Fatal

    The path to success looks different for all of us but always contains some bumps along the road. Leaders discussed in this post recognize that failure is the part of the process and coach their teams through trying times rather than condemn them. The outcome is increased teamwork, room for growth and innovation, and cohesion throughout the organization.

    These 3 Emails - from the CEOs of Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon - Teach Extraordinary Lessons in Leadership

    Have I made a case for EQ’s authority? It’s clear that exhibiting emotional intelligence has so many advantages and gives you the upper hand across the board. I encourage you to explore how emotional intelligence can influence your success!

    Ready to Improve your EQ?

    If you’re up for the challenge, learn how to improve your emotional intelligence in this online Lynda course. The course is broken up into easy-to-understand short videos you can watch whenever it’s convenient for you.

    Leading with Emotional Intelligence

    Explore interesting topics like how our minds can’t think intelligently when in fight or flight response, how exercising self-control leads to better performance, and how understanding our own triggers helps to better control delicate and difficult issues. Delve into the included exercise guide and check out the additional recommended resources and references. You’ll take away as much as you put into it.

  • Security, Service, and Shared Responsibilities

    by Mark Bonges, Vice President, Application Development | Oct 05, 2017

     
    Security or convenience? It always seems like a tradeoff. Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication help beef up security but they’re a headache for users, who need to keep track of dozens (or even hundreds) of logins. On the flipside, login credentials that are easy to remember are also easily cracked, and that can expose everything from an individual’s sensitive data to an entire network.

    No doubt your institution’s IT department faces this dilemma every time they upgrade campus WiFi. A robust wireless infrastructure is a necessary part of the service you offer students. Multiple hotspots, which used to be a luxury, are now an industry standard. Students are bringing more connectable devices to campus than ever before. How can your institution meet these ever-increasing demands and still provide increasingly higher levels of security?

    The answer, unfortunately, is that there is no easy answer (or one-size-fits-all solution). But this should help put things into perspective: While excellent service may be your IT department’s responsibility, network security is a shared responsibility, and that also happens to be the theme of this year’s National Cyber Security Awareness Month

    Every year in October, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSAM) team up to raise awareness about online safety. This year the focus is on end users, and as the semester rolls on, it’s a good opportunity to remind students and staff about securing passwords and recognizing common threats, and to reiterate your institution’s policies on what to do when a device gets breached.

    Here’s a quick preview of the topics they’re covering each week (which you can read about in detail here):

    • STOP. THINK. CONNECT: Simple Steps to Online Safety (October 2-6). This first week is dedicated to good online habits, current threats, and what to do if you’re the victim of a cybercrime.

       

    • Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business (October 9-13). Week 2 centers around institutional responsibilities for educating employees, customers, and students. It also highlights resources to help you reinforce your institution’s policies and infrastructure.

       

    • Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet (October 16-20). During Week 3, NCSAM will look at the implications of an increasingly connected future. The Internet of Things is here to stay -- what’s the best way to keep your devices and data safe?

       

    • The Internet Wants You: Consider a Career in Cybersecurity (October 23-27). This fourth week may be of special interest to your STEM majors and technology staff. NCSAM highlights this growing career as well as ongoing education for those already in the workforce.

       

    • Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats (October 30-31). Week 5 offers a preview of the latest developments in a smart and secure public infrastructure.

    To circle back to the question that opened this post, security and convenience don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In some situations, you can teach users how to enable fingerprint security features on their phone and computer, or two-step authentication via text message. That’s one way to bring good service into your security plan. Another is to regularly communicate with everyone at your institution about the latest phishing scam or teach them how to troubleshoot when problems arise. Ultimately, end users are your first line of defense, and empowering them can only help reinforce your campus network and overall cyber security.

  • How to Choose the Best Management Methodology for Your Higher Ed Project

    by Mark Bonges, Vice President, Applications Development | Sep 19, 2017

     
    In 2012, McKinsey and Oxford University conducted a joint study on the success rate of large-scale IT projects and found that more than half go over budget and beyond scope. The study identified several reasons for this, all due to basic failures in project management:

    • Objectives that aren’t clearly defined
    • Constantly changing requirements
    • Scheduling that doesn’t fit a project’s size or scope
    • Reactive vs. proactive planning

    These issues probably sound familiar to you as a registrar, and they illustrate why proper planning and management are key to helping you stay on time and within budget in those projects you work so hard to win approval for each year.

    If you’re like most registrars, you probably follow your own process or have a favorite methodology. If not, or if you’re looking for a new and more efficient system (or maybe you’ve heard all that buzz about Agile), here are three project management methodologies to consider, plus their pros and cons, to help you choose one that’s right for you.

    Waterfall

    The Waterfall method, so named for its cascading series of steps, is commonly used in IT, though it can be applied to other types of projects. It’s made up of the following five phases with each one clearly defined and carried out in a specific order:

    1. Requirements – spelled out in a formal project document
    2. Design – the project’s inner workings or architecture
    3. Implementation – development/execution of the project plan
    4. Testing – verification that the project works the way it’s supposed to
    5. Maintenance – implementation and ongoing support of the project’s end result

    Pros: This method works best where all of the planning and decision-making happens upfront. For example, it might be appropriate for a joint technology project with your institution’s IT department.

    Cons: By design, Waterfall does not allow for deviations along the way, so it’s probably not for you if your project doesn’t have a rigidly defined set of requirements and/or you anticipate that its scope will change.

    In that case, you might consider Agile instead.

    Agile

    You may have heard the phrase “fail fast to succeed sooner,” attributed to IDEO’s founder David Kelley and embraced by many of today’s tech companies. In software development, it means that you quickly build what’s known as a “minimum viable product,” show it to customers, solicit feedback, make improvements, and repeat the process. You accept that, at the outset, you don’t really know if your vision is correct (“fail fast”), but you trust that small and incremental changes will help you build a better product (“succeed sooner”).

    It’s a philosophy that the Agile method was designed for, and here’s how it typically works in practice:

    • The project team meets to discuss the requirements of the initial release
    • Team members meet briefly every day thereafter for a “standup” to report on progress
    • Each team member takes on only as much as they can complete within a two- to four-week cycle
    • The team meets at the end of each cycle for a “showcase” to demonstrate what they have built so far and solicit user feedback

    Pros: Agile’s narrow scope and adaptability are ideal for projects that require making adjustments as you go along and fast turnaround times.

    Cons: This method can be expensive in terms of meetings, and its fast pace may not fit with your particular needs.

    However, some of Agile’s components, like regular check-ins with your team, may appeal to you. If so, you could try a hybrid methodology.

    Project Management Hybrids

    Recently, Natalie Spooner wrote about an imaging project she led as a registrar. She followed her own process, but that type of project would have also lent itself well to a combined Waterfall and Agile approach. For example, she might’ve used the first couple of steps of the Waterfall method to define and design the project, and Agile’s regular meeting schedules to communicate with the multiple departments that were involved and help keep the project on track.

    Pros: By combining methodologies, you can tailor processes to each individual project.  

    Cons: Because Waterfall and Agile are almost completely opposite methods, they have the potential to clash.

    All projects require governance, but there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. The key to project management is understanding the different methodologies that are available and finding the best solution for you and your team.   

  • Stress Management - In and Out of the Office

    by Rose Addison, Manager of Documentation & Training | Aug 29, 2017

     
    I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a while, primarily because of my own stress levels… If we’re being honest, it took me a while to recognize, let alone admit to what I’m about to say – I’ve been feeling burnt out.

    For me, burnout feels like a steady stream of exhaustion after a day’s (and sometimes night’s) work, while losing momentum and ambition toward my goals. It’s not that I’m just tired and lacking energy, it’s that my drive to tackle whatever’s thrown at me with my typical gusto is fading.

    This feeling stems from too much stress, over too long a time period. Many of you can relate, especially now that school’s back in session. With work about to get even busier, let’s be proactive and do something about our stress! I’m using this assignment to hold myself accountable – after all, how relevant that I’m writing a post on stress reduction, since I obviously need it.

    Are you practicing any of these well-known coping techniques?

    Give Yourself Credit

    Do you place too much value on what you’ve completed on a given day? Are you beating yourself up over what you didn’t do? Negative self-talk is destructive and intensifies stress levels... if you wouldn’t talk to a friend the way your inner voice speaks to you, it’s time for you to re-program your inner critic. Be compassionate and gentle with yourself if you’re doing the best you can. Talk to yourself with encouraging words and remind yourself your to-do list doesn’t define you.

    Take Time to Unplug

    Schedule regular time periods to go off the grid. We all need to be accessible, but most of us can spare time here and there to be unavailable. If you’re like me and fill up your calendar with appointments and to-do lists, be sure to schedule “you” time. The simple fact of not having to answer to anyone or anything, even just for a short period of time, can lift some of that weight off your shoulders. Consider setting boundaries for yourself, such as no work after 8 p.m., then hold yourself to it!

    Minimize Interruptions

    Consider how many times you’re interrupted in a day. It happens so frequently, we hardly even notice it anymore. With technology constantly calling for our attention, it can be hard to keep a steady stream of thought. Although we can’t control how often we’re bugged, we can schedule time to respond to things like emails, texts, voicemails, etc. Do what you can to control your environment and set priorities on what needs your undivided attention. If the email doesn’t need an immediate answer, let it wait, and keep on task.

    Exercise, Eat Well, and Get Sleep

    There’s a lot to be said for getting your endorphins going, eating healthy foods, and getting some good shuteye. Find ways to enjoy workouts and healthier food options. Start small so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Even a few minutes of aerobic exercise can decrease tension, elevate your mood, and improve your sleep. Take the physical steps your body needs to set yourself up for success.

    Take an Objective View

    We often assume we know others’ motives but in reality, if we don’t ask, we don’t know! Even when we think we’re unbiased, we bring our ideals, past experiences, and our current mental climate into situations unknowingly. The potential for misunderstandings multiplies when we’re only able to see things from our point of view. Although it’s a vulnerable thing to do, consider asking what someone meant by a particular comment or look… you might be pleasantly surprised to learn you’re wrong!

    Delegate Responsibilities

    Whether it’s at work or at home, you can instantly eliminate some stress by asking for help. For some of us, it can be difficult to let others know we need a hand… for some reason, we tend to think we can do it all, but this line of thinking only perpetuates stress. Who wants to be responsible for it all anyway?! Teach people how to fish, rather than providing their dinner… your own plate will become less and less full. 

    Breathe

    Take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Before you begin, rate your current stress level on a scale from one to ten. Unplug from your responsibilities for a few minutes and set a timer for three minutes. Put both feet on the floor, sit up straight in your desk chair, and close your eyes. Breathe in and out, focusing on your breath.  When the timer goes off, rate your stress using the same scale. I’ll bet you the number is lower!

    Let It Go

    Adopt the practice of letting things go. Try not to overthink things or focus on what’s not working… There’s a lot to be said for a less pessimistic point of view. Focus on solutions rather than problems then ask yourself if the “crisis” will exist next week, next month, or next year. If the answer is no, the problem probably doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.

    Relax & Enjoy Life

    This is easier said than done… especially if relaxation has not been a priority. Get a massage from time to time, go for a walk at a park you enjoy, read a book, or have a glass of wine while listening to your favorite podcast. If relaxation or fun hasn’t been a priority for you, ask yourself what relaxes you… What do you enjoy? What do you find yourself wishing you had more time for? When your non-work life is enjoyable, you’ll be a calmer more relaxed person while on the job. Sometimes you need to prioritize fun!

    Conclusion

    Finding the balance can be challenging. While stress can’t be eliminated, it can certainly be decreased. Too much stress can really take its toll on your health, happiness, and your relationships. What works for me may not work for you. If your stress is unmanageable, seek outside help from an expert so that you can find a support system that works for you.
  • 5 Ways to Make Efficient Use of Downtime in the Registrar's Office

    by Natalie Spooner, Sales Consultant | Jul 25, 2017

     
    As a registrar, you’re the steward of your institution’s educational records. You take pains to ensure student transcripts are accurate, secure, and sent out in a timely manner. You liaise and collaborate with every other department on campus. You’re busy almost all year-round, and sometimes it’s all you can do to focus on what’s right in front of you.

    This is where office downtime is critical. Those rare occasions throughout the year when most students are away – midsummer, the fall semester break, late winter – are ideal for taking stock, advancing skills, and boosting morale. With that in mind, here are a few ways to make the most of those times.

    Cross-training

    Although cross-training requires some short-term planning, it pays long-term dividends. It can help your junior staff members advance in their careers – for example, you could invite a transcript assistant to shadow an associate registrar for a week or two. It also ensures you’ll have staff on hand to take up the slack during unplanned or extended absences.

    Tip: Implement cross-training with a focus on the positive. Emphasize that the registrar’s office as a whole benefits from it, and that it’s not meant to devalue anyone’s specialized skills.

    Staff Development Day (with a Side of Fun!)

    Staff Development Day is another popular way to recognize staff and promote their careers. As with cross-training, some advance planning and forethought are necessary. Before you begin, ask your staff what professionally relevant topics they want to learn most. Next, plan a day of sessions, invite senior staff to present topics, or encourage any members of your department to share what they learned at a recent seminar or trade show. Finally, top off the day early with a picnic and camaraderie.

    Tip: To help keep picnic costs down, plan it as a potluck or enlist senior staff to provide pop, utensils, hot dogs and hamburgers, buns, and chips.

    Prioritize Project Requests

    Your office is constantly fielding project requests from other departments – often more than you can manage all at once. The slower times of the year are ideal for prioritizing these requests. Invite staff collaboration during the prioritization process and communicate your plans to all involved. This will save you time and headaches when things get busy again.

    Tip: The rule of thumb here is to look at all of the different factors that influence a project’s priority. For example, a project with regulatory compliance issues might take precedence over a committee request.

    Information Audits

    Taking a “policy inventory” during slow periods in the office will also help save time and prevent potential mix-ups among staff and students. Use downtime to ensure all of your materials are up to date: Audit the course catalog and SIS, and review any recent changes to academic policy.

    Tip: This might also be a good time to check your department web pages and blog for outdated and broken links or information left over from previous school years.

    Clean Off Your Desk Day

    Studies show that a clean workspace boosts productivity, creativity, and efficiency. There’s even a nationally designated day for it: The second Monday in January. Unfortunately, that also happens to be one of the busiest times in the registrar’s office, so workspace organization may have to wait until a more appropriate time for you. Very little planning is involved. Simply shred and throw away papers you don’t need, tidy up paper and electronic files, and weed out email inboxes.

    Tip: Make it fun. Encourage staff to take photos of the event and post them on your intranet or blog. Give out little prizes for the cleanest (or messiest) desks.

    Whatever activities you plan, you’ll thank yourself when it gets busy again, as it will very soon!

    Registrars, how do you and your staff make the most of office downtime? Please share your stories with us.