After months of trying to get it all done and realizing you’re paddling upstream each and every day, you know you need more staff.
Just going to your Head of School and saying, “I need help” isn’t going to cut it. Being overworked and understaffed is commonplace for private school administrators. You know you need to bring proof to get your request considered. What kind of proof?
I consulted with Jane Armstrong, principal of Independent Thinking, a boutique search firm for private school administrators and heads of school. She likened the request for a new hire to a teenager’s request to go to a party at a friend’s house.
Can I Go To The Party?
When approaching the parent, the teen had better be prepared with the right answers to: Will the parents be home? Will there be drugs or alcohol? How will you get there and back? Will the “to” driver walk you to the door and introduce you to the parents? What time will you be back? Who else will be there? Are your grades worthy of a privilege like this?
Demonstrate Your Need
In the MarCom hire situation, your head of school might not know the questions she/he should ask, but you should be armed with a great argument nonetheless. Jane says, “Demonstrate your need by giving your head the answers to the following.”
What will you be able to accomplish that you don't currently have the capacity to do? (Both in current work that isn’t getting done and potential work.)
How will adding those efforts impact positively on the school’s goals?
If you are currently outsourcing something that you will now be able to do in-house, demonstrate by the numbers how the hire will only add X instead of Y to the budget.
Use the data to prove current results (such as how your marketing efforts increased PK inquiries by 20%) and with an additional staff member you believe you could see an increase in MS inquires. Example: The new hire will cost X, but even one new student would pay this salary over X years.
After you make the argument for why this additional position makes great sense for your school, you can show some staffing benchmarking data that demonstrates that your nearby or peer schools are already staffed up.
One powerful response to the first question above should be: The time to think strategically. There’s no way you can be thinking strategically if you’re putting out fires all day long. You need to be able to take a breath and look at the big picture on a regular basis to get the results you want.
Emphasize the importance of MarCom for your school in enrollment, fundraising and friend raising success including the promotion and steward of the school’s brand.
Show how much you and your staff currently work on, the numbers of hours spent on each function and what duties the hire would take from you.
Demonstrate increased workload over the last X years.
Have a working job description for the new hire.
Know the salary requirements for the new hire and factor in benefits to arrive at the entire price tag.
Demonstrate the impact the new hire would have on admissions and development (either by taking some of your load off or direct marketing effects on enrollment and fundraising).
Spell out what will happen if you don’t get a new hire.
Explain how this one hire will have an immediate impact from day one.
If next year is the year for a new viewbook, website redesign or launch of a capital campaign, be sure to leverage these enormous projects.
At InspirED, we believe most private school marketing and communications offices are overworked, understaffed, and sometimes under appreciated in the value your work brings to the school’s table.
Many of you deserve help and the school will be better off for it.