Yesterday, I welcomed a group of new teachers to Cowley College. For several hours, I engaged them in a series of discussions and activities. The apparent purpose varied throughout the day. Sometimes it was to learn one another’s names, sometimes to learn about the evaluation forms, and other times to become familiar with the College’s mission, vision and values. But no matter what the particular topic was, the real purpose of the whole day was something else: forming and building relationships.
I know it’s not original with me and I’ll never be an expert on the subject but I am absolutely convinced that the most critical aspect of an effective college is based on relationships. The human connections that develop in an educational institution—or most any other organization—are the real glue that holds things together.
Most schools, churches, businesses, charities, etc., go through periods of change. New administration, new legislation, new organization, or whatever else brings perceived upheaval and threat to the status quo. Some will fight against it, some will embrace it, some will resist in passive aggressive manner and others will adopt a “this too shall pass” mentality.
Through its best and worst moments, through all the ups and downs, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, the real glue that will keep things from going absolutely topsy turvy is relationships. Connections that go deeper than job descriptions and assigned duties. Knowing and caring about each other. What began as acquaintance and grew into collegiality or even true friendship.
This is not new but it is always powerful. In the end, it is not ideas that make organizations great. It is not organizational charts and annual reports. It is not management theory or mandatory meetings. It is the choice to initiate, foster and sustain relationships that creates the true power of an organization.