3 Skills That College Administrators Need To Master
The administration field of higher education is growing rapidly. With the increasingly large number of colleges and universities worldwide, there is a huge number of posts to be filled for college administrators in institutions every year.
As a result, academic institutions are always seeking to fill advanced positions with qualified candidates capable of understanding their construction, governance and operations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 7,000 plus degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the United States will have more than 13,000 jobs to fill in higher education through 2028.
Academic administrators are responsible for the success or failure of the institutions they lead. They are in the business of creating the next generation of leaders. Research has also shown that strong leadership from administrators has been vital in the continuous up-gradation of knowledge, skillsets and performances of their staff.
Effective administration depends on three basic but significant personal skills – Technical, Human and Conceptual. Realistically, these skills are interrelated but they can be examined separately and developed independently. It is important to note that this three-pronged approach proves that good administrators need not be born; they are, in fact, developed.
Here, we take a closer look at these three skills that college administrators need to have and develop further for a very successful career.
1. Technical skill
Technical proficiency is perhaps the most familiar and the most concrete skill, and it is sought after and acquired by the largest number of people. Technical skills have become even more critical in this age of specialization, as a lot of vocational and general training programmes also seek to develop a specific technical skill.
Technical skills have been largely responsible for the greatest advances of the modern world. For an academic administrator, it is indispensable to efficient operation and has the greatest importance at all levels of administration.
In this digital age, where most of the higher education institutions use college ERP, an effective college administrator needs sufficient technical skills to understand, gain proficiency and accomplish the mechanics of an activity for which she is responsible. She should be fluent in the methods, processes, procedures, or techniques.
An administrator’s technical skills will involve having specialised knowledge, analytical ability in the speciality and the expertise to use the tools and techniques of that particular discipline. For the dean of a university that offers multiple courses, an academic ERP is indispensable. Technology has become the backbone of educational operations.
Even if college administrators move away from the actual physical operations, he will be dependent on a skilled team of subordinates to help solve problems.
2. Human skill
Human skill is the ability to work effectively together in a group and also build cooperative team efforts while leading a team. This skill is visible in the way an administrator sees and recognizes the perceptions of seniors, equals, and juniors, and how he behaves subsequently.
An administrator with highly developed human skills is aware of his own attitudes and beliefs about others but accepts that there could be viewpoints and beliefs different from his own. He understands what others mean by their words and behaviour and has the ability to communicate to others, in their own contexts, what he means himself.
Human skills allow for creating an atmosphere of approval and security in which all team members, including juniors, feel confident enough to express themselves without the fear of getting ridiculed or snubbed. The team feels encouraged to plan for their goals and carry out tasks that directly affect them.
An administrator with high human skills is sensitive to the needs of others and is able willing to act in a way which takes others perceptions into account.
Real human skill is a natural and continuous activity, as it involves sensitivity not only during crucial decision making but also in daily behaviour and activities. This skill must be naturally, unconsciously and consistently developed to be effective and be demonstrated in every action of the administrator. It must become an integral part of an administrator’s whole being.
3. Conceptual skill
For an academic administrator, conceptual skill includes the ability to see the institute as a whole. It means recognizing the way various functions of the institute depend on each other and how any change in any part could affect all the others. It also extends to envisaging the relationship of her institute to the education industry and the political, social, and economic forces of the nation as a whole.
Sound conceptual skills will help recognise these relationships and perceive the significant elements to be able to act in a way which will advance the overall welfare of the institute.
Therefore, it is safe to say that the success of a decision depends on the conceptual skill of the decision-makers and those who put it into action. If each administrator at every level recognises the significance of the decision, it will be more effective and the chances of succeeding are greater.
The attitude of the top college administrators reflect the character of the whole institute and determines the corporate personality. This attitude, in turn, is a reflection of the administrator’s conceptual skill – the way he perceives and directs and the way in which the institute should grow, along with its objectives and policies.
Therefore, it is not only the effective coordination of different parts that depend on the conceptual skill of the administrators involved but also the whole future direction and tone of the institute. Hence, the conceptual skill is the unifying, coordinating ingredient of the administrative process, and undeniably important.
Practically, however, these three skills are so closely interrelated that it is difficult to identify where one ends and another begins. Effective administration depends on these three basic personal skills, and learning and developing them would be the empowerment an academic administrator could use to rise to great career heights.