Regardless of the different types of higher education institutions one may be in, there are always conversations among professionals about the restrictiveness in our field. This restriction can come in forms of subordinates feeling disconnected from organizational decision-making, unpopular institutional policies that indirectly affect professionals’ productivity, or other events that impact the educational organization. The question I would like to explore is… ‘why are these conversations of restrictiveness so prevalent in a higher education field that is modernly known to be a beacon of creativity and shaping the intellectual global economy?’
The Realities: Expanding from environmental student development theory, it could be argued that the environment impacts organizational development of faculty and staff as well. We currently work in an environment where risk management is heightened due to the new implications of a social media world and the current microscopic assessment external agencies are executing to analyze the effectiveness of higher education. This typically puts upper management in more of a conservative strategic mindset that in turn restricts the lower chain of command. Although many times this mindset is warranted, it fails to tap into creative resources provided by younger professionals who have recently entered the field with an updated outlook on higher education.
The Untapped Creative Resource: It can be understood that many people believe we live in a time were things change almost on a daily basis. One could initially argue that we also have seen an enormous generational shift due to the exponential growth of technology to which we are still trying to figure out the best way to provide services in such manner. Fortunately, students coming out higher education are students that have grown up with some sort of electronic device catering to their needs and wants. This provides a potential opportunity for how we can better understand the mindset of newer generations. Such opportunities could include new marketing strategies, programs that better equip students for modern issues, and student affairs professionals building more effective rapport with their students.
Reasonable Solution? It would be a waste of time for me to repeat the suggestions that organizations should better communicate and follow learning outcomes. Instead, there needs to be a way administrators can let their subordinates feel empowered with new programs or initiatives. Are there ideas that the subordinates can take the lead while having valued input from the more experienced administrator(s)? If such activity happens, delegating leadership would create a win-win situation because it adds experience for the subordinate while showcasing the leadership ability of the administrator. Along with that, administrators should do what they can to provide some sort of forum that will allow the subordinate to feel heard and be able to challenge the ‘status quo’ of the higher education industry.
Higher education professionals have been dealt with the nearly impossible task of low-cost creative sustainability in a time of a low risk-low reward environment. The best resource we have when it comes to this challenge is… ourselves. Do you have time when you were given the creative opportunity to initiate an idea? If so, feel free to share in the comment section below!