I don’t have a maintenance facility, but I do have a few reporter pads and an email inbox that need a little tending as spring approaches. Here are a few items I cleaned out that are worthy of a mention.
1. Don’t let your fall/winter education and trade show experiences be filed away for perpetuity in your desk drawer. What did you learn that you should share with your staff? What networking contacts did you make that require a follow-up? What improvements or changes will be made in your management activities that you should communicate to facility leadership? If you expect to receive support for your professional development activities, it would be wise to demonstrate how you used those opportunities to benefit your staff and your facility, not just yourself.
2. If you are in a supervisory position, how would you like to be remembered by your staff? I came across an inspiring comment from Buffalo Bills All-Pro wide receiver Steve Tasker when he was eulogizing his special teams coach, Bruce DeHaven: “I was a better football player because Bruce DeHaven was my coach. I was a better person because Bruce DeHaven was my friend.” Powerful stuff, no doubt.
3. A recent Harvard study says that people are judged on two criteria when they meet someone for the first time: trust and respect. Psychologists note these as “warmth” and “competence” dimensions. It only seems logical that professionals would value competence as the most important trait, but the study indicates that trust is the most important criteria. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if people don’t trust you.
4. People have shared so many great tributes to the life of Arnold Palmer since his passing, but I thought this quote by The King said it all: “The road to success is always under construction.” We should all be cognizant that our world is ever-changing and we must change along with it if we are to succeed and persevere.
5. If you haven’t established a New Year’s resolution, might I offer a suggestion? Strive to be a better communicator, and that means being a better listener. By listening intently, you show others that you value their thoughts – and thus they’ll be more likely to value yours. We can only comprehend so much at a time. If we continue to drone on and on, we do not give others the chance to understand what we are saying and discern our key message.
6. Do you have one or more assistant superintendents? Force them to apply for at least one job this year. Make them go through the entire process of researching the job, writing a cover letter, putting together a résumé/portfolio and networking for the opportunity to interview. Offer yourself or another superintendent to review the work of your assistants. This will not only build a skill set, but also prepare them for opportunities that are likely to arise. Leave nothing to chance.
7. When it comes to attire, superintendents need to think like Boy Scouts. The vast majority of the time, casual attire is appropriate and warranted. But throughout the year there will be events where a coat and tie are necessary – sometimes with little or no notice. Go through your closet now and make sure you have seasonal dress attire that is appropriate and reflects positively on you. Make sure you have dress shoes as well.
8. My mother turns 81 later this month. I love her dearly and think of her often. I think of her when communicating through social media. My rule of thumb is: If my mom would not like what I want to say on the social platforms, I don’t say it. Discretion is always the better part of valor.