Recently I was chatting with a colleague about my new business and we thinking through different angles that I could try to work with student affairs professionals. One interesting thing that we chatted through was looking at tasks that are on a SA Pro’s to do list but never gets done, or is the bane of their existence. I’m talking about assessment of their programs and writing reports to turn into their superiors.
Student Affairs professionals are busy. A loaded statement for sure. We have many “hats” we have to wear. We have to progress our programs in a positive and meaningful manner. We have to ensure our student employees and student leaders are doing their jobs and learning at the same time. On top of that, we have to drop all of that when we have a student crisis on our campus and be there to comfort those in our community. So when do we have time to assess our programs? When do we have time to write the reports?
I’m not sure if you have experienced this, but a new VPSA comes in and wants to change the whole way the division sets goals, reaches those goals, and reports on their assessments….I sure have. We are expected to do these new exercises in ensuring our offices are fulfilling our roles in the new VP’s vision, while maintaining our daily operations that we’ve always done. So why do we do it to ourselves? Would it make sense to outsource our assessments that get piled onto us? In some ways there are those who have hired higher ed companies with special assessment tools to help complete their assessments. These are big projects and the institution is paying for the assessment tool. What about the tasks that you need to take care of on your individual to-do list, but have no time for because you have to take care of assessment reports?
Back to my chat I was having about my business and outsourcing tasks, I likened it to Task Rabbit. If you don’t know what Task Rabbit is, it is basically Uber for small “handyman” odd jobs. You have a task you need done around the house that you are too busy to take care of, or don’t have the skills to handle. You get on the app and hire a Tasker. What if we SA Pros had that option? You are too busy to think through and write up goals for your office, what about hiring someone to help you. The big picture projects always take the longest and most time away from your daily operations. Additionally, they set you up for having to work after hours so that you can turn in your reports on time, which leads to poor work-life balance.
I know this may seem like a lazy idea, but how is it any different than hiring help for other areas in our lives? You may hire a babysitter so you and your partner can go out and enjoy each other’s company, is that lazy? No you are taking care of an aspect of your life so that your relationship thrives with your partner.
And then there of course is the question of paying for a SA task helper. It’s no big secret that SA Pros are underpaid. Would you be willing to pay some of your money to have someone help you make your job a little easier? Of course you would have to disclose that you are getting help to your supervisor. If you didn’t then it would be similar to students buying essays off the internet and passing them off as their own. There could be a way to convince your institution to pay for task help. If employee well-being is a top priority in your institution, this could be a way for your campus to pay and help with your productivity and your wellness.
I know this idea sounds a little out there. If you want to explore having someone help you out with your assessment tasks, let’s chat.