Shannon Philpott

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching

Retention: Effort = Results

retentionNone of us are strangers to the concept of retention. In academia, it is often viewed as a dirty word signaling the profit portion of higher education. But, nonetheless, every college I have ever taught at has focused on the importance of retaining students, and every employer stressed the need to retain quality employees.

Personally, we have a natural desire, too, to retain relationships with friends and loved ones. Retention is not easy, though. It’s a pull and play concept. You have to work to pull the person in, work to show the benefits of the institution or relationship, and work to maintain the results.

The problem is that most people don’t actively retain; instead, they sit back and hope for the best.

This issue is important to me and one that I deal with everyday as a college media adviser. Tomorrow, I’m presenting some potential strategies for college journalists at the National College Media Convention in Austin, Texas, sponsored by the Associated Collegiate Press and College Media Advisers. These strategies are crucial for many college media outlets operating with minimal cash flow to pay staffers while struggling to retain quality people.

A few of the strategies include:

  • Recognizing that we live in a “me” culture: In order to recruit and retain student journalists, the editors have to clearly show the benefits of joining the organization. Why else would students balancing work, school, and home life volunteer for an additional activity without any compensation?
  • Building relationships with staffers: It’s the love me or leave me concept. If you don’t show the love, leaving is inevitable.
  • Communicating with new staffers: Often times, we have expectations of a new employee or friend, yet we never clearly define these. Instead, we unintentionally set this person up for failure.
  • Training new staffers: As with expectations, we have to provide the necessary training for someone to succeed in a new job or relationship. Give everyone a solid overview of the organization – an orientation – and clearly outline the tasks.
  • Including and recognizing staffers: Many people join or stick with a club or organization because they feel like they belong or even needed. If you don’t include new staffers in discussions, brainstorming, or even outside activities, they will feel isolated and ostracized.
  • Letting them lead: Nothing motivates a person like the opportunity for advancement. Realistically, lead this person in that direction with training and feedback. If they can taste even a tidbit of success, you will have a dedicated employee.

 Although my presentation is geared toward student journalists, these strategies apply to all of us. Think about how you foster relationships with friends. Think about how you foster relationships with students, co-workers, employees, etc., and then think about the word “retention.”

 It doesn’t have to be a dirty word. It doesn’t have to be about money. Instead, I view retention as a means to include others and witness growth firsthand. Isn’t that what college is all about?

 - Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Oct. 29, 2009

 © Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and shannonphilpott.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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October 29, 2009 - Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching | , , , , , , ,

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