Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
June 20, 2012
Whether budgets are being challenged in lean times or have more flexibility when the economy is strong, it’s essential for career services offices to undergo the strategic assessment and planning process to understand and communicate where they are and where they are going.
A strategic plan not only provides your career services office with direction, it also gives it a valuable reference tool to use when asking for funding or for fighting off reductions. Still, your strategic plan will only be as strong as the initial assessment, analysis, and engagement.
Following are seven steps for conducting a successful assessment and planning process:
- Identify the organizational purpose and the plan’s intended result—If these are not clear from the beginning, the chances that the strategic planning process will be successful are greatly reduced.
- Take stock inside and outside the organization—This can be a very intensive step. To come to a consensus of top issues and priorities requires a deep examination of the career center from different angles. Use different tools, including focus groups, needs assessments, and standards, to review your programs and budgets.
- Analyze the situation—Review the information culled in Step 2 to do a SWOT analysis and determine what’s critical, prioritize programs and services, and determine what’s in your office’s control. This step may require one or more retreats to complete.
- Establish goals, and strategies and objectives to reach them—Identify areas around which to develop the strategic plan. The plan should include descriptions of the goals and how they could be achieved.
- Associate responsibilities and timelines with each objective—Assigning responsibilities makes certain areas and/or staff members accountable for the progress toward achievement of the objectives. Working on the objectives is part of each staff member’s goals for the year and he or she is assessed on it as part of annual performance reviews.
- Write and communicate a planning document—Write the goals and objectives, responsibilities, and timelines into a comprehensive plan that can be used as a reference tool and as a way to communicate needs and intentions.
- Note completion and celebrate success—The staff members who work on achieving the goals in the strategic plan need to buy into it for the process to be successful. Noting completions and celebrating successes is a way of rewarding them for their work and boosts morale.