Do you feel as if you have no idea who other administrators or staff are on your campus? How often have you caught yourself saying there are too many counter programs or another department just does not understand what your department or position does? Frustration can build quickly when you feel as if your campus community is fragmented and everyone is on a different page. Here are some strategies I have incorporated to help me feel welcomed on the campus and to get others to understand why I do what I do.
It is easy to become wrapped up in our day-to-day and to have a micro view of how our positions interact with the campus community. Often I find myself thinking about how I will be an agent of change to our users and best support the mission, vision and values of my organization. However, through engagement with others and a consistent desire to share my passion with my colleagues in other departments, there has been a shift of other departments reaching out for collaboration on programming initiatives. Learning about others and finding ways your position can help support their passion is vital to creating a cohesive and supportive climate on campus.
Often, there are programs on campus that may conflict or disengage students to programs offered within your facilities or through your department. Reaching out to these individuals is a great way to see if there is a way to combine or cross promote programs. Many campuses have wellness as its own entity or part of a department outside of campus recreation. Reaching out and seeking collaboration is a great way to show you are committed to supporting that group while also reaching your vision. It does not have to be “Us vs. Them” if you are willing to compromise as well.
I cannot stress enough how impactful attending a program hosted by a non-affiliated department can have on bridging a relationship between two groups. Showing a genuine interest in other campus programs will help shape a culture where staff want to collaborate more. You may even learn something new or see a new way to facilitate. Further, we should be stewards of the campus experience, and we cannot achieve this without understanding the experience holistically.
Though engagement with your campus, you can be the catalyst that creates a culture of collaboration and support. We easily think micro within our departments and creating a certain work culture, but expanding this ideal to a macro level will help integrate you into your campus community. Try to become part of the whole campus experience rather than a specific facet of it.