Finding the perfect fit is winning half the battle
In a school, the non-educational staff is truly the cogs that keep the wheels turning. These invisible soldiers are only noticed when things go terribly wrong. And when things are running smoothly, they are almost invisible. Perhaps this is why thinking about educational hiring is largely focused on management and educators. But this is a grave oversight that schools pay for through the nose, without even realising it. Non-educational staff, or administrators, are the people every stakeholder in your institution will invariably come into contact with. Whether it is students seeking the exam schedule or parents approaching them to find out the whereabouts of a missing child or management wanting assurance that everything is running smoothly, administrators are usually the first point of contact for anyone approaching the school. Hiring them, thus, becomes a key factor in how the school is externally represented.
Schools often hire for administrative roles with their primary concern being budget, above anything else. While finances are important, making it king in hiring decisions is a recipe for disaster. How do you know you are getting the best possible talent (within your budget even) for the job? Instead, because no other metrics are used to assess candidates, one is stuck with disinterested, uninspired personnel who are, plainly put, bad fits for the job. This spells disaster for an institution – no one wants to engage in learning at an institution where the first point of contact is inept and unpleasant.
So what should you look for to avoid this?
Here are some points to keep in mind when hiring an administrator for your institution:
1. Don’t undermine person-culture fit
An administrator that does not fit the overall culture of your school will stick out like a sore thumb. It will result in an inability to understand the vision behind their work and a lack of person-culture fit. This dissonance is likely to trickle down to various aspects of the school’s running, so seek someone who instinctively gets your school’s workplace culture.
2. It’s all about organisation
The administrator’s daily task is largely routine, so look for someone who is naturally driven by process. This person finds pleasure in an organisation and the smooth functioning of established process and thus performs well at them. Creatives might be more fun, but someone who finds peace in the smooth running of things or is calmed by a well-balanced spreadsheet is the person you want at the front desk or in the finance department. It is far harder to get a disorganised person to function efficiently, so choose talent wisely.
3. Seek the tech savvy
In an increasing technology led educational ecosystem, you cannot afford to hire Luddites to man the administrative desk. Your school ERP might keep processes running automatically, but their efficient functioning is dependent on a human administrator who isn’t afraid of technology. Hire people who have worked with school ERPs before and are comfortable on-boarding onto new technology. People who view computers are threats are not going to help drive your school forward, so keep an eye out for early adopters and natural learners for the role.
4. Attitude Matters
Administrative work can be stressful, relentless, and painstaking. This is a customer facing role that requires immense patience and a can-do attitude. A grumpy, mean-spirited pessimist is of no use in times of a crisis or when work needs to just get done. Instead, hire the positive, team-player who will keep spirits up while also efficiently getting work done – it might make or break your administrative team.