Maintaining Team Integrity in Higher Education

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Maintaining team integrity in Higher Ed is an integral part of innovation and success. While some describe change as the only constant in the world, it’s often misunderstood from the business perspective. Additionally, it’s often taken for granted that others interpret integrity in the same manner, however, some interpret it with a bit more lenience than others. Define what integrity means to your team and your institution clearly and concisely. Ambiguity and assumptions are a crisis waiting to happen.

Maintaining an organization’s (or a team’s) buy-in, work ethic, and faith during times of change can be challenging for any leader—regardless of whether you work in the nonprofit sector or the corporate world.

Many organizations struggle to sustain their culture – the great things about why people want to work therewhen implementing change, and as a leader, your primary job is to make sure your organization continues to move forward / innovates without losing its focus, its culture, or its people (one of the consequences of resistance to change).

Connect the Dots

Communication is critical for team integrity in higher ed; as a leader, you need to make sure the rest of your organization understands the bigger picture (and especially the why and WIIFM—what’s in it for me) as much as you do. Your innovation initiatives should be directly mapped to clear goals with a tangible return on investment AND how it will help/affect your people.  Sometimes a basic business model outlining the economic motivators will employees understand the ‘why’ behind the innovations, but they need to know more than just that—hence the WIIFM.

Additionally, clearly outlining where you will need their help in executing this new project and any role changes for team members (including whether those changes will be permanent or temporary) is important.

Be Open for Feedback

Explaining the need for innovation can be challenging, but it’s more than important—it is critical. When doing this, you must allow open lines of communication for questions—this will help employees feel like they are part of the process and that their concerns about the change are valid. It also lends to your integrity as a leader when you can articulate the ‘why’ of the project. Taking questions and being open to feedback can also bring to light new ideas that you and your leadership team may not have considered.

However, there are better ways than just attempting to convince and cajole employees – involve them in the planning process for new initiatives.

Work to Create Clarity for Team Integrity in Higher Ed

Times of change in organizations can cause anxiety among employees about a number of things, including roles, goals, and even job security.  Remember the adage “people support what they help create”?  Getting employees to help plan and take ownership of the changes, including creating their own job responsibilities, goals, etc.—even plotting out the change process for their area–will help build buy-in and make everyone hold themselves accountable for executing on the new project.  This one thing can help you eliminate up to 80% of the natural resistance to change that occurs with large scale innovations.

Maintaining culture and team integrity in higher ed can be one of the most challenging aspects of leadership. But you’re not alone. At The Change Leader, we excel at working with your teams and leadership to incorporate best practices and change management strategies. When priorities don’t align with the process of innovation, teams disengage, lose trust in leadership, and are less invested in the success of the company. Visit our Higher Ed Consulting Services page to see the range of services we provide to help you and your institution succeed.

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