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Creating Effective Advising Appointments

Here's What We Think.....A few years ago, Ken Blanchard published The One-Minute Manager. The book was all the rage and managers across the country attended seminars to learn the magic secrets of quality management.  Several administrators from the college jumped on the bandwagon and carpooled to the nearest seminar to learn how to become superstar leaders.  One-minute goals, praise, and reprimands became the language of mid-level management.

While driving home, I contemplated how, with an advising load of 800 undecided students and an additional 250 pre-law advisees, I could become the superstar one-minute advisor. Seriously, I thought, I need to ask for a refund because this guy Blanchard does not know anything about advising at a flagship institution. I mean, how truly important are the 3 secrets to my work?  But, by the 3rd stop light, I had begun to think about aligning my work with Blanchard’s ideas and by the 5th stoplight, I had formulated the step-by-step plan to become the world’s first one-minute advisor.  

So, let me be honest…the one-minute advisor was a bit of an exaggeration; but the plan did allow a higher quality appointment with each advisee, who left with an actionable plan.

Step 1:  Preparing Students For One-Minute Goals

Just like healthcare clinics who require patients to arrive 30 minutes early, students were now asked to arrive 30 minutes early to complete a set of forms prior to meeting with a professional advisor.  We began with 3 paper inventory forms but quickly transitioned to tablets.

  • Form 1:  The Student Interest Inventory
    Blanchard’s focus on goals was critical to undecided students.  We understood moving them into a major plan of study was important to their success as students but getting them to focus on their own passions, interests, and skills was new for us.  

  • Form 2:  The Student Strengths Inventory
    The results assisted advisors in identifying student needs and making the appropriate campus and/or community referrals. 

  • Form 3:  Barrier Identification Inventory
    The result of this short set of questions allowed advisors to quickly identify barriers that may be getting in the way of students’ ability to move successfully to graduation.  Food insecurity, childcare, lack of resources to cover living expenses, as well as homesickness and roommate issues were all reviewed.

Additional Data:  Academic Information from Student Information System including a degree audit and math placement scores was reviewed.

Step 2: The 30-minute appointment

Armed with a cadre of information, the advisor and advisee could spend time developing a realistic, actionable set of goals with an accompanying academic plan. Advisors were trained to end each appointment with a positive/praise statement recognizing the student’s contribution to the process.

Step 3: The One-Minute Praise or Reprimand

While participation in the early alert system was optional for faculty, when a message was noted, advisors would follow up to address the issues quickly via email.  The focus was not a reprimand, as Blanchard referred to his third secret of management, but a reminder of the student’s goals and academic plan including a set of questions for the student to consider in order to get on track academically.

As colleges transition from traditional advising models to guided pathway management, there may be a few nuggets that can be gleaned from Ken Blanchard’s work.  For example, goal setting is a very powerful motivator for completion agendas. Developing a set of actionable goals and a guided pathway with each advisee provides the opportunity for academic success to increase significantly.  Allowing advisors the time to respond quickly when students have moved off-track and to praise as each milestone is mastered are key components of Blanchard’s work as well as Guided Pathways assumptions.

How has guided pathways changed your advising practices?  

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Author: Geri Anderson
March 8, 2019

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