If you’re an enrollment manager, it’s fair to say you’ve got a lot on your plate.
You keep your department in motion every day by:
- Supervising your recruiting team
- Managing your budget
- Evaluating recruitment needs
- Planning and implementing enrollment programs
- Developing communication strategies
- Measuring outcomes
- Making sure all your goals and actions lead to successful recruitment
Whew! Tired yet?
Here’s the good news. There are a few proven traits that have allowed enrollment managers to boost their numbers while keeping their cool.
Developing these traits will help you to not only keep your head above water but also thrive in your role. As a bonus, if you exhibit these traits you’ll establish a productive and positive culture in your department.
Read on to learn the five traits a successful enrollment manager must cultivate.
1 Approach your campus and your prospective students with a curious mind.
Do you stay current on new programs, initiatives, courses and clubs on your campus? Or, do you just promote the same old offerings you’re used to promoting?
An excellent enrollment manager is curious about discovering ways to grow and develop their campus. You should always be learning, experimenting, and evaluating the effects of changes.
What is new, surprising and unique on campus that sparks your interest and makes you want to know more? These elements can enhance how prospective students perceive your value. How can you share this with prospective students?
And what about your prospective student demographics? Next generation students communicate and access information differently than you do. And since technology is always changing and developing, you should too!
How do you react to changing technology? Do you shy away from tech trends, or are you embracing new tech with a curious mindset? Are you ready to think creatively about how to use that technology to interact with prospective students?
2 Uncover endless possibilities by remaining open-minded.
Next generation students bring demands that extend beyond the services of a typical campus, and students increasingly seek non-traditional experiences.
Are you open to learning from prospective students and families? Will you consider their needs in order to enhance the appeal of your campus?
These learning opportunities may not create themselves. Students and families may not feel empowered enough to share their perspectives and needs with you.
However, they are definitely sharing these thoughts with the friends that could be your next batch of recruits. That’s why it is imperative that you seek out and receive critical feedback. This way you can quickly address concerns and show students and families that their voices matter.
Another way to stay current and relevant is by understanding the trends and tools that engage next generation students.
For example, students are no longer satisfied with traditional lecture-based courses. They want hands-on, project-based learning. They want collaborative group work. They want flipped classrooms where they can learn content at home and debate interesting ideas in class.
Is this type of teaching being implemented at your school? Does the faculty understand how these strategies could improve the value of your campus?
In Trait 1, we discussed using new technologies to reach out to prospective students. You can, however, also integrate those technologies into the coursework and the infrastructure of your school.
Tools like Instagram and Snapchat can be used to share student achievements, promote on-campus events, and promote school pride. Faculty can even use these tools in their lessons and assignments.
As a recruitment manager, you are actually on the front line, and you need to understand what prospective students need. Are you ensuring that those needs are conveyed to the faculty and staff in your school?
If not, you should be. Use the first-hand information you have in your position to improve your campus.
3 Encourage a collaborative spirit for yourself, your team, and your campus.
A successful enrollment manager forges collaboration within the faculty and student environments.
Is your department team on the same page when it comes to the mission, action plan, and implementation? It is vital that everyone is working towards the same goal with a unified approach.
A well-defined mission and strategy will give your team purpose. It will also reduce tasks overlapping. You will be able to ensure that each team member is performing a unique and productive role.
Once your mission is clear, you can focus on creating a concrete action plan with benchmarks to measure progress. Try to think outside of the box by focusing on sharing content and encouraging teamwork.
Once you’ve defined the mission and action plan, it’s time to delegate – you can’t do it all! Limit yourself to tasks that involve building relationships, defining mission and strategy, coordinating a campus action plan, and developing staff.
Delegating and letting go of some tasks and projects is a great way to develop your staff’s skills (as long as you offer support as they take on new challenges).
In the long run placing trust in your staff and increasing their level of responsibility will give you a higher functioning department and boost your success.
Recruitment is also a collective campus effort. Do you bring non-recruitment faculty and staff into the recruitment process? Can those faculty and staff define your mission and articulate their role in living that mission?
Everyone working at your school should reflect the mission in their teaching and communication with students. In addition to understanding the mission, your faculty and staff should also know your campus action plan.
Faculty and staff should be able to identify where their actions fit into the action plan. They should know what role they play in the recruitment process and feel like they are vital to the success of that plan.
A helpful way to bring all the disparate parts of your campus together is by crafting a narrative about who you are and what sets you apart.
You might also consider creating a working group comprised of representatives from different facets of your campus.
This can serve many purposes. First, it allows you to disseminate your action plan and narrative across campus. Second, you will learn more about what’s going on around campus that adds value to your recruitment materials. Finally, it will make faculty and staff feel invested in their recruitment roles.
Remember our earlier conversations around openness and curiosity? This is an opportunity to practice those traits.
4 Discover grit – the magic ingredient in success.
When you are a recruitment professional, your work is never done. Once you’ve secured students for the new school year, the process of retention begins. In recruitment, there are constant wins and losses.
For every student you bring in, there are some who leave. You lose students throughout the year and you need to keep numbers up.
You may hear negative feedback from students and parents. Perhaps you’ve run an unsuccessful recruiting event that failed to capture many new leads.
While this is understandable and to be expected, its can also be draining and discouraging.
That’s why grit is key. Grit is the magic ingredient. It allows people to persevere during adversity. The good news is you can learn to develop grit. When a new crisis comes your way, go through a few mental practices.
Firstly, think back to previous crises or challenges you have faced. What steps did you take? What was the outcome? It is quite likely that you stepped up to the plate and figured things out with a creative solution. So what makes you think this time will be any different?
Secondly, understand that there is never an unsolvable problem. The worst that can happen is that you make a mistake and learn from it. Which isn’t a bad thing at all.
The thing about grit and resilience is that your peers are more likely to emulate these traits when they see positive outcomes from your hard work.
If you want your team to develop these traits, then you need to be the example. And when the goals are achieved, acknowledgment and reward are essential.
Right now, how does your team know they’ve done a good job? Think about how you can celebrate your team’s big wins in a way that motivates them for the future.
5 Approach your work with discipline and focus.
You might be thinking to yourself: “Hey, I am disciplined, and I work really hard!”
I am sure that every enrollment manager reading this works hard and invests in their campus’ success. But that’s not what discipline means.
Discipline means working hard with a high level of control. A disciplined enrollment manager is in control of themselves, their team, and their action plan.
Here are a few ways to develop and maintain that control:
First, define the big picture. We’ve already talked about creating a mission statement, a driving narrative, and a concrete action plan.
But the work doesn’t stop there.
You need to keep your eye (and the eyes of your department) focused on that big picture with every move you make. All tasks and projects should be in direct relation to that bigger picture.
Second, practice forward thinking. As an enrollment manager, you are constantly juggling many tasks. As such, a potential crisis is always around the corner. If you are not careful, these crises can consume your time and obscure your vision.
If you are constantly being reactive and fixing problems, you are not working efficiently. It can also cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture. You can avoid this by being proactive and forward-thinking.
This is easier said than done, especially when your staff typically relies on you to put out fires and offer advice. Remember earlier when we talked about delegation?
This is exactly where delegation comes into play.
You’ve already created a collaborative department. You’ve also supported the professional growth of your staff. Now it will be easier to hand over smaller “crises” to your trusted and capable staff.
Ok, let’s recap.
Successful enrollment managers should harness and exhibit 5 vital, but easy-to-learn traits:
First, they stay open to new viewpoints. They seek to integrate those viewpoints into their recruitment action plan.
Second, they approach situations with curiosity. They are excited to learn more about their prospective students and their own campus.
Third, they foster collaboration both internally and externally. They make sure everyone has a place in their enrollment action plan.
Fourth, they build grit. Grit keeps them going despite challenges and setbacks.
Fifth, they practice discipline. They know that hard work isn’t enough without control and focus.
If you cultivate these five key traits, you will achieve your goals and find fulfillment in your role!