University Recruitment – Trust Versus Performance

trust imageHow did Burberry, a venerable British company known for its stodgy trench coats, become a $2 billion dollar fashion empire? Moreover, what can the lessons it learned revitalizing its brand teach us about university recruitment strategies?

At this year’s Chick fil A Leadercast®, Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts shared how she turned the 154-year-old British institution into a technologically savvy global powerhouse.

Since taking the helm in 2006, Ahrendts’ focus on developing a pure brand strategy has more than doubled the Group’s revenues; Burberry is now widely regarded as one of the leading British brands in the world, with a thriving, connected corporate culture.  Pretty good for a girl from small-town Indiana!

What distinguishes Ahrendts’ leadership is the high level of trust she built while overhauling the company’s business operations. In contrast to most companies, who rely on statistics and market studies, Burberry employees are encouraged to “go with their instincts.” It’s a strategy that requires a level of trust unheard of in most corporate settings. As fellow Leadercast speaker, leadership guru Patrick Lencioni, reminded us: “Vulnerability-based trust is the single key to making a great leadership team.”

Their words remind me of some situations I’ve encountered in university recruiting programs that can result in distrust. Whether recruitment teams struggle because of frequent changes in reporting structures or success metrics, poorly defined strategies, or inconsistent communications, the end result shows in the school’s bottom line.

While I continue to encourage universities to define their student recruiting processes and associated metrics, I find that a lack of trust defeats even the most innovative strategies and keeps organizational leaders from receiving valuable input from staff on the front line.  Addressing this issue strengthens communication and increases motivation, ultimately raising the performance of the entire organization.

Just as Angela Ahrendt’s outsider’s eye transformed Burberry’s corporate culture, bringing someone in from outside the organization can help you spot problems that weaken the core of your university recruiting strategies. We’ll help you build trust, but we’ll also assess your overall enrollment and marketing program, to help you see the forest, as well as the trees. Our comprehensive report identifies successes, reveals weaknesses, and proposes comprehensive recruitment strategies that are proven to increase your enrollment numbers, which is the key to higher education marketing.

As you kick off a new fiscal year, why not determine if there are cultural or process improvements that can enhance your school’s bottom line?  If you are interested in more information, click here to complete the Contact form and we will be happy to speak with you.




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