University Business - February 2010 - (Page 15)

VIEWPOINT Driving Your Budget Message e art of clear communication in good times and bad By John J. “Ski” Sygielski T IS EASY TO COMMUNICATE with constituents when you are talking about enrollment growth, a large financial gift, faculty accomplishments and new building projects. But what about when the going gets rough? What then? How do you share bad news with individuals, both internal and external, who are vested in your institution? We’ve all heard the phrase “communication is a two-way street,” and in the best of times, that street is wide open, allowing communication to pass freely between individuals. However, when budget crises arise or times otherwise get tough, the street seems to narrow. People get nervous, and there is much more anxiety involved in the communication process. If the street is suddenly closed because administration is fearful of communicating bad news, there is a massive traffic jam and accidents and fatalities begin to occur. Whether good or bad, institutions must embrace the “communication is a two-way street” philosophy and stay connected with their constituents. CLEAR COMMUNICATION REQUIRES INVOLVEMENT To effectively communicate during tough times, you must first learn to effectively communicate when the waters are calm and your organization is experiencing smooth sailing. ere are numerous books about communication, but I have found the following principles from Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People to be helpful in producing clear communication: I It is human nature for people to ask why. The problem: People also want to lay blame. 1. “Begin with praise and honest appreciation.” People need to feel valued and respected. If they feel appreciated, people are much more likely to embrace change and be supportive of administrative decisions. 2. “Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.” To be an effective leader, you must listen to your various constituents before making decisions. By listening and accepting suggestions, you engage others in the decision-making process. 3. “Show respect for the other person’s opinion. Never say, ‘You’re wrong.’” We all approach situations from a different perspective. We must remember that our perspective is not necessarily better than someone else’s perspective. 4. “Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.” Empathy is an important quality to possess. As a leader, we have to make the best decision for the institution as a whole; however, we need to take into account how our decisions impact those around us and how they perceive the situation. 5. “Appeal to the nobler motives.” As a leader, we must inspire our constituents to reach the goals set before them and achieve great things. We inspire those around us through clear, positive, and honest communication. When we keep these principles in John J. Sygielski is president of Mt. Hood Community College (Ore.) and chair-elect of the American Association of Community Colleges. February 2010 | 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - February 2010

University Business - February 2010
Editor’s Note
Behind the News
Internet Technology
Independent Outlook
Universities Go to School
Leveraging Technology to Increase Enrollment, Capacity, and Revenues
Meet Me Online
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
What’s New
End Note

University Business - February 2010