Adaptability is tantamount to success as an advisor. Not all students are the same. Neither are all student groups, nor all advisors. Hence, the best advisors assess the developmental level of the organization, and adjust accordingly. Individual students are at one of several levels of development in an organization. Kathleen E. Allen, "Choosing the Effective Advising Style," in the May, 1981 Programming (p. 1-3) states these stages include: Infancy, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, and Maturity. Not to be confused with actual age, these stages represent a continuum along which students develop.
- Infancy: students exhibit a low level of commitment, a lack of knowledge, and limited responsibility for their actions.
- Adolescence: students increase their programming skills, their interest, commitment, and sense of responsibility to the organization.
- Young Adulthood: students become competent, and continue to increase in the areas of commitment and taking responsibility.
- Maturity: students now show a high degree of competency in many areas, and demonstrate a commitment to the group that extends into taking responsibility for their own actions as well as the group's actions.
Successful advisors will match their style with the level of the students in the organization.
- Director: has a high concern for the end result but is not very concerned about the process. This matches with students in the Infancy stage.
- Teacher/Director: exhibits a high concern for both product and process. Correlates with students in Adolescence stage.
- Advisor/Teacher: concern for product low because students handle this when in the young adulthood stage; high concern for process. Correlates with students in Young Adulthood stage.
- Consultant: product concern and process concern both low because students assume responsibility in both areas. Students at this point are in the Maturity stage.