(#250) Motivating the Motivators

Beyond the paycheck and benefits, what is being done
to motivate those who are charged with motivating our students?

Last week, I had the following question posed to me: How can we motivate more faculty to take control of their professional development? 

Intriguing.

In higher education we devote a lot of resources (time, money, facilities, and people) to the topic of student motivation.  But what do we do (institutionally, administratively and collegially) to motivate faculty?  Beyond the paycheck and benefits and the one-and-done workshops, what actions motivate those who are charged with motivating our students?

Image: Markuso/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: Markuso/
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

True, for many of us, our students remain our motivation. But beyond the students what motivates us to seek out new strategies and topics? What motivates us to stay fresh? Are we in a survival mode or renewal mode?

In the last few months I have heard colleagues (nationwide) speak of burnout. Some are long-in-the-tooth veterans and some are relatively new to our calling.  One new faculty member said she wanted to take steps early in her career to address burnout before it tripped her up.

Perhaps you have heard of compassion fatigue.  There are physical, emotional, spiritual, and professional steps we all can take to practice self-care.

What do faculty (and their leaders) do to foster/fuel their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy needs? Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project states, “Any organization that fails to build a robust learning program for its employees–not just to increase their skills but also to develop them as human beings–ought to expect that its people won’t get better at their jobs over time and may well get worse.”

Video recommendation for the week:

How do you renew yourself for sustainable performance?

For this week’s blog let’s briefly examine professional development from a different perspective—how to motivate faculty to take control of their development.  In fact, I would argue we ditch the term “professional development” and replace it with “professional growth and resilience.” The first is very “other-directed” (an “expert” tells you what you need); the second can be more “you-directed.”

My initial brainstorming has led me to the following (somewhat random list) on the topic. Actually, at this point, I am asking more questions than I am answering.

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Will the following help motivate faculty to seek/follow/continue with professional development? In short, how can we:

  • As much as possible, let faculty have control/choice over their faculty development and let them identify their needs and passions and then move from there?
  • Connect PD/FD activities with individual career/personal trajectories? Not everyone in higher education is interested climbing the rungs of administrative promotions/advancement. How can we help faculty explore the various spokes of professional growth? (Consider service, authorship, speaking, training, mentoring, design and development to name a few of the diverse areas that support growth and resilience.)
  • Connect institutionally-driven professional development days to what faculty find of professional interest?
  • Enable leadership to create a culture of active communication (listening; give-in-take)?
  • Infuse reflective practice so that faculty can see connections between professional growth and personal resilience? (We can talk a lot about balance and well-being, but what does the campus culture actually do to promote and support true opportunities for on-going renewal and recovery?)
  • Allow/promote faculty to share their personal passions with their colleagues? (Maybe with a 20 x 20 PechaKucha format; maybe a teacher’s showcase; and/or another format.)
  • Encourage stretching and opportunities for failure and learning (ala FailCon)?
  • Find ways to incorporate laughter?
  • Facilitate and support conference and/or professional meeting attendance?
  • Find meaningful incentives (beyond intrinsic) to encourage faculty?

Growth and resilience require that we have awareness about what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how we can make movement to improvement.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Make it a great week. And H.T.R.B. as needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.

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