How to work with Administration and Advisors


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Justin Klander and Jason Fossum, Minnesota State Senate

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How to work with Administration and Advisors

  1. 1.  Developing the relationship ◦ Getting off on the right foot ◦ Being and maintaining professionalism  Handling difficult situations ◦ Focus on the facts and do your homework ◦ Control your emotions  Seek win-win solutions when possible ◦ Understand the other side ◦ Create your plan ◦ Eye on the prize
  2. 2.  Getting off on the right foot: ◦ Meet with administrators early in your term  Informal meetings/Meet and Greets  Begin to build trust and communication  Figure out who is who on campus ◦ Professional but casual  Administrators often have varying views of students and how to work with them.  Being professional allows you to break down potential walls.
  3. 3.  Dress appropriately for the situation ◦ A presidential cabinet meeting won’t be held in your bedroom so don’t dress like it.  Be prepared ◦ Competency earns respect.  Do what you say you are going to do ◦ Consistent follow through builds trust.  Respect the position even if you don’t respect the person ◦ Whether you like them or not, they have power and can help you.  Remember who you represent, but seek solutions ◦ Solving problems serves students better than making a point.
  4. 4.  Inevitably there will be tension with your campus administrators.  How you handle these situations will be key in your success.  There are a few key steps to handling any difficult issue.
  5. 5.  In order to diffuse potential fireworks, make sure you have all the information you need.  If you find holes in what you know, ask questions.  Bring the players together to discuss the issue, but don’t meet just to meet.  Make sure you have the right people at the right meetings.  Keep the big picture in mind inside the jungle of details.
  6. 6.  It’s easy to get caught up and react emotionally when you care about the issues on which you work.  Maintaining and controlling a professional outlook is a must for several reasons: ◦ When you get emotional, you’re more likely to make mistakes. ◦ Emotions close lines of communication. ◦ Emotional reactions can alienate potential allies.
  7. 7.  In the end, your job is to win victories for your constituents (students).  Crafting a strategy is easier when you can map out a road to victory.  You have to give something to get something.  There are a few key steps to working toward a win-win.
  8. 8.  In order to be successful, you need to understand your administration’s position.  Ask clarifying questions.  Small misunderstandings can have huge consequences.  Get positions in writing so you can reference them later.
  9. 9.  It’s always advisable to have a plan or an idea of what you want to accomplish.  Map out some potential solutions and break them down from both your perspective and that of your administration.  Use your resources to determine the best course of action.  Finalize your plan and prepare.
  10. 10.  Be ready to change your plan as you discuss issues with your administration.  Stay focused on your ultimate goal and don’t miss out on easy solutions.  Winning for your constituents is MUCH more important than winning for yourself.
  11. 11.  Develop and maintain key relationships  Let your personality carry you, don’t let personalities ruin you.  Seek win-win solutions and remember that you will likely have to give something to get something.  Understand what consultation means and what it doesn’t.  Stay focused on finding solutions  Be professional and carry yourself that way at ALL times.