It only takes one person

Last week I traveled to a campus I had not been to before. As I walked in the front entrance I was feeling a little nervous about finding my classroom and about how the day was going to go. I had a lot on my mind. Minnesota has been getting a lot of rain and big wind storms and we had lost our power so my sump pump wasn’t working. Will my basement get flooded? How long will the food in my freezer last? Will my daughter get herself to driver’s ed on time?

In reality, this is what our students have going on every day when they show up to our campuses or log on to a course or contact our business offices. They have full and complicated lives and we are just one part of it. An important part, but only a part!

Before our students can even get to the education we provide they must navigate our systems, our assignments, our forms, our office hours, our teaching styles, our registration process, and even our hallways. When I walked into that main entrance last week, distracted, a little stressed and looking a little lost, a friendly voice greeted me and asked “how can I help you?” I immediately felt my stress dropping. I knew someone was going to help me navigate their school. Surprisingly, the person who offered to help was not the front desk receptionist but a staff member who noticed the receptionist was not at the desk and stepped in to help. One person recognized what I needed and responded and that made a difference. My overall impression of the school totally changed and I was able to focus on what I needed to do to make it a successful event because of one person.

Your actions, as a leader, can support each person on your team being that “one person” who makes a difference for our students and all of our customers, in the classroom, in the hallway, on the phone or computer, and in our offices.  Do the people on your team feel like they:

  • Have the permission to step out of their task and check with a student or other customer who needs help?
  •  Are able to make decisions to solve a student or customer issue on their own?
  • Are praised or recognized by you when they take initiative or go “above and beyond” to help a student or customer?

Each one of us, as leaders, can create teams made up of people who will be that one person who makes a difference for a student, parent, or community member at our schools.

Todd Thorsgaard


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