As colleges and universities are getting ready to open for late summer or fall classes, three essential steps to take to ensure both employees and students are as comfortable and confident of resuming their roles:
1. Emphasize your Higher Purpose consistently.
The higher purpose needs to be emphasized as you reinvigorate your institution to open up again. The higher purpose gets employees out of bed every morning, and motivates employees to go above and beyond. During a crisis, such as what we have experienced over the past several months, it’s easy to lose focus from the purpose as you just try to survive, but it’s important to constantly remind everyone why you are doing what you are doing. Consistent examples of when the higher purpose has been met should be regularly communicated to the full team of employees. They underscore how much you value being great, not just surviving. This focus attracts and retains respected employees as well as students.
2. Keep expectations clear.
Keeping expectations clear with students is important. For example, simply saying, “Our next steps are ‘X,’ and you can expect we will be back in touch by ‘Y’” can help set realistic expectations. Communication with employees to share information to assist in eliminating confusion must be of paramount importance.
3. Address known fears.
Students are worried about how difficult it will be to get into lecture hall classes due to potential limited capacity.
They are concerned about how many courses are now going to be offered strictly online to limit exposure. Online learning is more difficult for some students, but will the student have the choice to take certain classes in person?
Social activities, a big aspect for many students of their college years, will there be a limit to the number of people allowed to participate? What level of participation will be permitted?
These are just a few of the “known” fears. The key will be to address as many of them as quickly as possible and continue to have open forums that will identify these fears upfront and share the action that will be taken.