By Courtney Schmidt (Alpha, DePauw University), Pearl Stone Partners Managing Partner
Pearl Stone Partners (PSP) house directors have a dual focus: the people and the facility. In their role, house directors work to support the safety and well-being of the chapter facility residents; they are also responsible for the safety and security of the physical facility. As a result, it is unlikely that any two days will be the same in this unique role. Some days, the property manager tasks require more attention; other days, chapter events and stakeholder meetings will fill the schedule.
The most successful PSP house directors have robust planning skills and are adept at toggling between their responsibilities associated with the people and their responsibilities connected to the bricks and mortar. PSP identifies planning skills as a key job competency and defines it as the ability to think about and successfully manage activities, with specific resources, to achieve specific goals. Through our resources and development of planning skills, PSP aims to equip house directors to work smarter, not harder.
During the academic year, there is rarely a shortage of vendors, members and guests visiting the facility and attending activities taking place there. To keep on top of this schedule, PSP has established a non-negotiable job responsibility for house directors: they are expected to hold a regular, standing meeting with the collegiate vice president facility operations (VP FO). Ideally, this meeting occurs weekly and is held in person.
The importance of this meeting cannot be overstated. Initially, the house director and the VP FO are encouraged to develop a professional working relationship. House directors are guided to do this by participating in an open, two-way, introductory conversation with the VP FO about working styles and communication preferences. House directors are further encouraged to establish themselves with this collegiate leader as dependable and trustworthy by discussing mutual expectations for follow-up timelines – and by consistently meeting those deadlines.
As the relationship forms and the academic term progresses, the house director and the VP FO will use this meeting for information exchange. The house director will provide the VP FO with updates about upcoming work at the chapter facility, and the VP FO will provide the house director with updates about the chapter calendar and upcoming events. They may also discuss service providers, like the meal service or the cleaning service. They should confirm house rules, guest hours, the chore program, expectations for member use of the kitchenette and the chapter’s crisis management plan. The house director and the VP FO may find it is appropriate to include an advisor in the conversation or may follow up with that advisor via text or email.
House directors who cultivate this relationship with the VP FO and who establish the habit of clear communication and frequent information exchange are often also those most attuned and responsive to the collegiate chapter and to the chapter facility’s needs.
The photo at the top of the post is from House Director Training 2019.