Confessions of An Ex-Boss: What I Learned from My Staff by ProQuest


More Info
									forum                                                                                    Commentary

                                                                         Confessions of An ex-Boss:
                                                                       what I learned from my Staff
                                                                                                        By Richard J. Riehl

my name is richard, and i’m a recovering university ad-          my senior who had been the other finalist for the job i had
ministrator. i’ve been administration-free for six years, but    just landed. i remember well the day my new boss, an old-
i continue to have flashbacks to a career that led to this       school kind of guy, summoned me to his office to tell me i
battle with PASD: Post-administrative stress disorder.           had the job. i was no longer to be “dick riehl, everybody’s
sharing with you what i learned from my staff during my          buddy,” he explained; rather, i was “richard riehl, direc-
0-year career will allow me to confront the ghosts of deci-     tor of University admissions.” i understood him to mean
sions past — ghosts that haunt me for the mistakes i made        that my new responsibilities would force me to make en-
sitting behind a big desk in a large office, out of earshot of   emies because of the difficult decisions i’d have to make.
the buzz arising from the tiny desks in cubicle land.            in hindsight, i think he also meant i had to grow up.
   in my past life i worked at three different universi-             Upon returning to my new, more spacious office, my
ties, all mid-size public institutions. i was responsible, at    first two thoughts were, “now what do i do?” followed by
various times, for supervising staffs that recruited and ad-     the solemn vow, “never let ’em see you sweat.” i was lucky
mitted students, evaluated their transfer credit, awarded        to have on my staff a competent, experienced, and well-
them financial aid, registered them, checked them out for        respected office manager who already ran the office. she
graduation, and organized their commencement ceremo-             told me what to do and how and when to do it, all while
nies. my preparation for this career consisted of a couple       allowing me to think that i was the one in charge. That
of liberal arts degrees and five years of high school teach-     represented the beginning of my education by those who
ing and coaching.                                                called me “boss.”
   Western Washington University enrolled 9,000 stu-                 i was especially fortunate to have two talented associate
dents when i was appointed director of admissions. i             directors, including the one who had competed against
was 9 years old, with three whole years as an admissions        me for the director’s job but who was extraordinarily gra-
counselor under my belt. i had never supervised anyone           cious in defeat, invariably loyal, and possessed a great sense
over the age of eighteen. i suddenly found myself respon-        of humor. i learned that he also had never met a rule or a
sible for a staff of eight women, all older, wiser, and more     policy that shouldn’t or couldn’t be bent or broken. my
experienced than i, and a male associate director ten years      other associate was likewise a
To top