Our Upward Journey: The Work That We Do

Dear Faculty and Staff:

In his 1750 “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” Benjamin Franklin wrote “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” While knowing one’s self is indeed a vital lifelong task, it is evident that our work is both an expression of ourselves and a way of developing ourselves. Certainly self-awareness and dispassionate assessment of accomplishments and failings haven’t gotten any easier in the intervening 269 years since Franklin’s insights, nor have they become any less important. As we continue on our upward journey at MGA through 2019-20, the work that each of us undertakes on a daily basis must always proceed on the basis of reflection – with an eye to knowing where we are and how we can impact this University positively in what we do, so we can set the proper course of action to continue our upward journey as an institution of higher learning.

Back in March, a random selection of faculty and staff were invited to participate in ModernThink’s 2019 “Great Colleges to Work For” survey. The results of that survey have come back, comparing this year’s results with MGA’s previous scores from 2016, as well as with benchmark scores aggregated from leaders in the space and overall averages in higher education as a whole. All told, they paint a picture both of progress, and of continued potential for growth. The survey asked respondents, in essence, to rate whether or not Middle Georgia State is a good place to work. In categories such as job satisfaction, professional development, work-life balance, efficiency, leadership, and collaboration, the survey provides a very broad snapshot of how our faculty and staff feel about working for the University.

I am heartened to see that in nearly every category surveyed, the needle has moved in the right direction since 2016 – overall, employees are happier with their situation at MGA today than three years ago. In some areas – particularly in faculty/staff/administration relationships, communication, teaching environment, and collaboration, the number of respondents selecting the top two options for each question increased significantly – 7-12 percentage points in some cases. In many areas, our institution outperformed the benchmark average.

You can see the top-sheet results here, and I’d encourage you to take a moment to look through these numbers and reflect on what they say about MGA as an employer. Of course, we have room to improve, and that is indeed a strategic priority for 2019-20: “Develop the compensation and organizational structure for staff,” as announced at Convocation last month. Armed with the results of this survey, we can focus our attention on those areas that most need that attention and build organizational structures that speak to those areas effectively, and – in turn – make MGA a better place to work.

Self-awareness is a vital part of any improvement program, and consistent and continual feedback is one of the best mechanisms for attaining self-awareness. The “Great Colleges” survey provides us with invaluable information, but I would challenge all of you to help build upon this data set – when you identify a way in which our workflows can be improved, our communications made more informative, our collaborative projects made more robust, or work-life balance made more equitable, please bring that to our attention. Whether in a conversation with your supervisor, an email to your leadership team, or a comment brought forward in a meeting, every idea gives us a better picture of what you, as an employee, needs from Middle Georgia State. Equally, MGA must be a place of fulfilment and reward for our work, and so this year we shall review how to organize and improve staff compensation to reflect this upward journey that is promoted by our work.

The work we do each day at Middle Georgia State University changes the lives of our students, and I would imagine that most of us remain in higher education for just that reason. We cannot, however, ignore that the work we do each day changes our own lives and those of our colleagues as well – and I remain committed to striving to ensure that those changes are as often as possible made for the better.

Thank you all for the hard work and dedication that you continue to demonstrate, and for putting such remarkable energy into helping our students, our colleagues, and ourselves find greatness every single day.