Keep your program out of the doghouse

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dog houseKeep your program out of the doghouse with your institution.  Here’s what lifelong learning program leaders can do to keep your program – and you – out of the institutional doghouse.

  1. Anticipate concerns

You probably know who is going to be critical, and what they are going to say.  Don’t wait to be reactive and defensive.  Get your message out before they do.  And when concerns and questions are raised, if you anticipate them you will be able to give an immediate positive response that minimizes the negativity about your program.

  1. Tie your mission to their mission

This is probably the top internal marketing and communication need for lifelong learning programs today.  They don’t understand your world, they understand their world.  So it is your job to tie the mission of your program to being central to the mission of your institution.

3. Repeat the message, then repeat the message

Ever watch political campaigns?  The leading cause of failure is not “staying on message.”  They repeat the same simple message over and over again.  Periodically and regularly, you want to repeat your message to other leaders in your institution.  You can use different words, different testimonials, different examples, and different charts with a different color.  But repeat the message over and over again.

  1. Testimonials never lie

Everyone loves testimonials.  Other institutional leaders also tend to believe your customers more than they believe you.  So testimonials are a win-win.  Anytime and every time, relay some comment or interaction that reflects positively on your program.

  1. Defend, loudly if necessary

You can’t be shouting at every meeting.  But there are certain circumstances when defending your program vigorously is a positive strategy.  When the situation calls for it, speak up and defend your program.

  1. Agree you have to keep improving

This is an easy admission. We all have to keep improving.  So while you want to cite improvements and progress, it helps your relationship with others to agree you and your program has to keep improving.

  1. Report monthly

Report trends, data, good things, even bad things on a monthly basis to your superior.  And work with your superior on a regular reporting schedule with others in your institution who s/he and you think need to hear your message frequently.

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