Rewarding high performing academic advisors

Some recent surveys of both faculty and professional advisors indicate that many institutions do not provide any rewards for high performing advisors (Givans Voller, 2012). Opportunity missed. Choosing a reward system that allows professionals to see the value of their work to the institution should be the responsibility of everyone who has the privilege to supervise.
Actions that intimate that academic advising is valued in at the institution are nice. To improve on the intimation, just say it. And mean it. The data that you share with academic advisors is meant also for their supervisors, for the faculty, for people sitting at the front desk, and for the highest level of leadership. Everyone on campus should understand how the teaching and learning mission of the institution is being fulfilled in the work of academic advisors.
To properly serve both the advisor and the institution, rewards for high performing advisors should focus on that which cultivates high performing advisors. Internal and external professional development and training breed success for the advisor, for all advising colleagues, and for the institution. Internal and external professional development creates a critical mass of advisors who understand deeply how to be high performers.

Investing in an advisor who is already helping to create the critical mass is a no-brain er. Higher education institutions need to be self-serving when considering how to reward high performing professional advisors. As an academic advisor, it’s very nice to be the object of much appreciation, but it doesn’t improve my advising skills, provide me with a broader perspective on the profession, or connect me with the network of advising professionals doing amazing work around the world. Even cash awards have diminishing returns. When the cash is gone, so is my incentive to become an even better advisor. Structuring reward around professional development invests precious resources appropriately and yields dividend in advising excellence.

Last words…

Your academic advising program can flourish with a vision for the program, a specific mission aligned with institutional mission, and well aligned goals for the work of academic advising. Professional development should be structured around preparing academic advisors to execute that work. Data should be gathered that helps advisors understand the extent to which the well aligned goals (with learning outcomes students and advisors) have been accomplished. The same data can inform the need for targeted professional development. Having shared the data, appropriate rewards (see above) should be presented. The recipients of reward take on additional responsibility to continue their own development as high performing academic advisors. And the process begins again with examination of the vision and mission…

Works Cited

Givans Voller, J. (2012). Advisor training and development: Why it matters and how to get started. Retrieved from NACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources Web site:

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