The urgency for change is our first post in a series called Leading Organizational Change in Higher Ed to help higher education institutions’ leadership and teams be successful in their transformational efforts.
When changes need to be made institution-wide, it takes far more than a few emails to upper-management. Whereas some of the models are based on John Kotter’s 8-step model that he set forth in 1996 in his classic book, Leading Change, this series will approach change from a 2015 perspective while introducing new concepts as well as expanding previous concepts. This is the first installment.
Help Others See the Urgency for Change in Higher Ed
As the head of your higher ed institution or organization, you have what most others lack: an understanding of the big picture. Reaching out individually to different staff members may meet immediate goals, but it’s unlikely to address systemic problems in efficiency, productivity, or morale. With everyone focused on individual responsibilities and obligations, it’s difficult to bring an entire company’s attention to a large, overarching concern. The urgency for change is needed to get in front of the problems instead of chasing your tail.
To begin a company-wide dialogue, you must first assess your current situation and answer several key questions. Writing down your answers to each question will help when it comes time to engage your employees directly.
Assessing the Current Situation in Your Higher Ed Organization
- Overall, how is the organization currently performing?
- What strengths do we want to capitalize on?
- What are the key weaknesses we want to address?
- What areas need the most improvement?
- Are strengths and weaknesses internal or external?
- What’s the prognosis if we continue without making changes?
Key Questions to Ask Yourself
The following questions are what your team will be wondering when you open up your dialogue, so it’s important that you know the answers ahead of time.
- Why does the status quo need to change?
- What are the downsides of avoiding change?
- What are the potential benefits of change?
- How will the changes affect your employees?
Beginning the Dialogue with Positivity
There’s a difference between communicating urgency and instilling panic. Because the same piece of information can be presented and perceived in many different ways, engage with your employees’ heads as well as their hearts with a combination of facts and positivity.
- Cite relevant trends, studies, and testimonials that give weight to your argument (people change because they realize EMOTIONALLY that it is the best thing for them).
- Use a variety of mediums to present your ideas, including visual graphics, anecdotes, and demonstrations (people learn in different ways (and adults learn best by doing)).
- Create a clear and positive picture of what benefits companywide change can provide, both personally and professionally (there is always the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) when it comes to change).
- Reiterate that change is about more than just numbers; it’s about your company’s identity and the meaning of the work you do (but ultimately it is about the individual who must do the changing, and is it meaningful to them).
The Next Step Toward Organizational Change
Now that you’ve identified areas where change is needed and created a sense of urgency throughout the organization, you’ve got to build a team to help you make it happen. As you’ll see in “Part 2: Finding Leaders to Drive Organizational Change,” it’s not as simple as working with the heads of all your departments.
If you’re interested in how The Change Leader can help you, please visit our Higher Ed Consulting Services page to find out more about our change management and leadership development services.
Check out the rest of the Leading Organizational Change in Higher Ed series.