Anthony Levato: My name is Anthony Levato, and I’m the marketing director here at EducationDynamics. I would like to thank you for joining me for another spotlight session, where I introduce you to the speakers of the conference on adult learner enrollment management—CALEM 2017. Joining me from eastern Pennsylvania, I have Mickey Baines of Kennedy & Co. Mickey spent almost a decade leading a successful adult education at a small private college in eastern Pennsylvania that produced record enrollments, revenue, retention, and student satisfaction. This year, Mickey’s session at CALEM will explore how the most effective admissions leaders and management help their staff succeed. So let’s get started and introduce some of the questions that we have here. I presume that, in order to be an effective manager or director, you must first be able to open a dialogue with your team members. Can you share some of the ways to begin this dialogue?
Mickey Baines: Well, before you can have a true, really… What we call open dialogue, and by open I mean honest and two-wayed conversation where both parties are being engaged, you first need trust. But before I can open up to you, as someone who is interviewing me and open up and share everything I possibly can and feel honest with you and have that great a relationship, we have to trust each other. I have to trust what your intentions are, what it is you’re asking me to do, if you’re my leader I have to trust the direction we’re going, and that is part of your role in it. So before we can really have a good, open dialogue, we have to have trust. And that is key. It’s the number one thing that will hold us back before we can move further than anything else, and so if you’re taking over an experience team or you’re hiring a new leader or, I’m sorry, a new staff member for your team, and you have the responsibility to lead them, you need to take the time to develop trust with them.
Anthony Levato: That is so true. Trust is so important of all levels of organization. So what are some common factors that hold leaders back from having that open dialogue?
Mickey Baines: Couple things. I would say confidence, not having the true belief that, as a leader, you can lead them, that they’re stuck in their ways, or regardless of what you do, they’re not going to change. That’s not the case. So I would say confidence is one of the big issues. The as large, maybe even larger, would be fear. The fear of having a tough conversation. We hold ourselves back, we’re afraid to go there. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re shying away from it. When you see someone performing what may… or having a bad behavior or avoiding a phone call that they need to make, instead of addressing that with them, we run back to the office and check those 15 emails because we have to get a lot done. Those emails are there; they’re never going to go away. And the key is, that’s right, those emails will never go away, but having that moment to affect someone’s behavior because you have that conversation then versus waiting another day or not at all, is a big difference. And if you don’t do it then, you lose your opportunity to really connect with them and engage with them. Especially if they know you’ve witnessed the behavior and didn’t address it. And that just makes it even harder for you. So avoiding that tough conversation, being afraid to have it, I encounter that so often. My school calls me and we’ve got… enrollments down or we had to let a leader go or this team’s not performing. Well, if you’re not working with that team and helping create a clear expectation of what the accountability is for everyone there and what they’re working towards, then it’s hard to correct that behavior. You have to set that precedence, you have to have those goals in place, you have to communicate them. And you have to be confident and not be afraid to address it when they’re doing well or if they’re not doing well.
Anthony Levato: Very true. So we’ll move on to the next question. After I’ve opened up a dialogue with team members, do you have some tips you can share for holding them accountable for their work?
Mickey Baines: Right. So, you can delegate responsibility, you can delegate authority, you can’t really delegate accountability. We can only hold ourselves accountable. I can’t hold another staff member accountable. They have to hold themselves accountable. But I can delegate responsibility for a task and the authority to get the task done. A lot of times I may have someone I’m delegating to help lead a group and a project, but that person doesn’t necessarily oversee the folks involved in that group. I have the responsibility as that person’s leader to go to that group and say, “I’m delegating this to Anthony. Anthony’s going to lead us on this project. I’ll be taking his direction and following his lead on that, as will everyone here.” And that’s the expectation. So that’s one of the things. I just mentioned earlier the fear in being able to address conversations. That… You can’t be afraid, and so if you want to hold someone accountable, you have to be direct, and you have to be clear about what the expectations are. So if our goal for number of new students is 450, and I have 3 recruitment staff, and I’m meeting with them individually, I might tell them, “Your goal is 150. We’re not collectively trying to get to 450, you’re working towards 150. And we need to look at all the things you need to do to get those 150. And how can I, as a leader, help support you in that work? But your goal is 150.” And it might be 150 through tasks A, B, and C, or it’s 150 and we know that we need 300 applications. And we know we have to call each applicant 3 times, and how are we designating our daily tasks to accomplish everything we need to achieve those things? Not just to achieve 150, but to achieve the number of phone calls that we need, the number of emails that we need with each applicant to get us to 150. And if we are that clear, then they know what they’re working toward and what they need to be doing, and my job is to help ensure that they can do it and get out of their way, really, to let them do it.
Anthony Levato: Alright, so you’ve created the trust and the open line of communication.
Mickey Baines: Right.
Anthony Levato: And so, now you’re sort of identifying these opportunities to delegate, and so obviously there are going to be moments when there’s an opportunity to coach somebody.
Mickey Baines: Sure.
Anthony Levato: Either in something they’ve done correctly or in something wrong. How do you identify these moments?
Mickey Baines: Well, the key is knowing that the moments are always there. We just have to see them, we have to hear them and take them in. And then taking advantage of having the moment. So I’m working with a client right now, and where my office is, it happens to be right where prospective students walk into the admissions office, and they get greeted by a staff member and welcomed, and if I hear one of our new staff members is there, answering a question the wrong way or saying, “Sure, I don’t have that right now, can you come back tomorrow?” So the way we are building that level of service, that’s not an acceptable thing. Saying, “Hey, can you come back tomorrow at this time? We’ll have it for you.” No, what I had to do in that moment is say, “If this isn’t how I want you to respond to it, I need it right away, at that moment.” And when that prospective student leaves… Well, back up. There’s one of two things. I can wait til the student leaves, go talk to the person and say, “Hey, I knew you said you wanted them to come back and they said they’d come back at 8 tomorrow. What I would prefer you to do is go get the answer, call them, give them the answer, and then invite them back to campus.” So rather than making them take the next step, we’re taking the next step for them and then inviting them if they still have questions back to campus so we can talk it through. The other option I could do is walking right out while that staff member is there helping that student, politely interjecting, say, “You know what? I can handle this for you.” And then demonstrating for my staff member how it should be done. But the key is not waiting til another moment to have that conversation. I have to have it right then because that’s the moment of best impact I can have with that person. So you always have to have your eyes and ears open and ready to see the moment and then respond and coach on it. Don’t wait another two days til your one-on-one or next week when you have a staff meeting. Do it right away.
Anthony Levato: That makes a lot of sense. You’ve got to strike while the iron’s hot. There’s a lot of intent there.
Mickey Baines: Exactly.
Anthony Levato: I want to thank you obviously for taking the time to answer some of the questions for me today, Mickey. Based on last year’s… You were a speaker last year, and you had obviously a lot of great feedback and a lot of participants. So I’m really excited—
Mickey Baines: Thanks again.
Anthony Levato: At CALEM this year on April 5th in Denver, Colorado. And I just want to remind everyone that’s watching this: be sure to check out our website, www.calemconference.com. There you’ll find a list of all 28 speakers who will be presenting at CALEM 2017, and we’re also… Til the end of January, you’ll be able to receive a $400 discount on your registration. Thank you again, Mickey, and I look forward to seeing you in April.
Mickey Baines: Thanks for having me. I look forward to seeing you in Denver, seeing you and Carol and Scott and everyone on the team. Looking forward to it, and if you are watching, it’s a great conference, and I look forward to seeing you there as well.
Anthony Levato: Thanks.