As 2016 comes in full swing and the new academic semester approaches, I have been thinking a lot about my first semester as a supervisor. I will start this post with a disclaimer: I am nowhere near a supervising expert! However, I have learned some really interesting things from my RAs and friends who are RAs. I really want to focus on inspiring my RAs. And hopefully they will inspire their residents, who will inspire their friends, who will inspire more people. This chain effect may be me dreaming big, but I have high hopes for my little inspiration project.
As I was thinking about my RAs, and knowing that I was an RA less then a year ago, I couldn’t help but notice how disconnected I have gotten from the RA position now that I am the “supervisor”. Being an RA was definitely one of my favorite jobs… hence why I chose Student Affairs to pursue as a profession. However, it only took a few short months for me to forget all that they do for our students. So, this semester I will be finding my inner RA and hopefully will inspire my RAs to continue to do awesome work.
After consulting with my RAs and an RA friend from my undergrad, I have come up with six ways to inspire my Resident Assistants.
Recognize their hard work.
RAs do so much, and when I get to climb in bed at night they are still rounding the building! They are the first line of confrontation and on top of their classes/commitments while they build community. I want to recognize all of their hard work and let them know it’s appreciated.
Step out of the office.
This past semester, I have held countless one on ones or meetings in my office. Although my office is cozy and decorated, I really want to get out with my RAs and treat them to coffee or a snack! I feel like I’m always pressed for time, but how can I possibly inspire them when I am always sitting in an office chair and we aren’t experiencing the college campus?
I am a huge advocate for affirmations and writing a little note that says “I noticed this” or “thanks for doing that” or “hard duty night, keep up the amazing work”can really brighten anyone’s day! My goal is to write more random notes that will boost their mood and encourage them to keep doing a superb job!
Try on their shoes…
by doing more programs, or community walk throughs, or maybe even making them really cute door decs. I like to think that I am a supervisor who isn’t afraid to get my hands dirty, but there is always room to improve. And heck, if they see their RD making really cool flyers out of butcher paper and leading by example, maybe it will inspire them to try something new!
Make sure I’m not too busy!
I should never be too busy to turn away from my computer and have a meaningful conversation with one of my RAs when they swing by my office. I should never be too busy to help them pick out door dec ideas. I should never be too busy to show up to one of their programs! I have learned that being a good supervisor means that sometimes you have to find different times to do work, in order to be supportive of your staff members and team.
Build up their ideas.
Often times I want to build off of their ideas, but that can make them feel that their idea needed “improvement”. Instead, I want to build up their ideas and offer kind suggestions from things that I have learned. By challenging them to take their ideas to the next level, it will hopefully prepare them to take the next step.
Our Resident Assistants do amazing work and hopefully with these six ideas I will be able to inspire them!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
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