BRINGING THE COLLEGE TOGETHER

Full transparency is imperative when beginning an initiative of large-scale transformation. As changes are implemented throughout an institution, faculty and staff should be considered as a pivotal part in the process. Change is most effectively introduced when everyone feels that they had a voice in the institution’s transformation.

The second part of this series explores how to generate acceptance and support of new initiatives in a collaborative group setting. This ensures that all members of the college community feel they had an opportunity to be heard and that leadership values their opinions. 

While these engagements can be time-intensive, they will help create a smoother transition as the changes occur. The earlier that faculty and staff can be engaged in the planning process, the more likely they are to be open and embrace the upcoming institutional shift. 

BRINGING THE COLLEGE TOGETHER

One of the best ways to ensure college-wide collaboration and adoption is to engage all faculty and staff by facilitating synergetic workshops. While this can be difficult to achieve due to scheduling, the results of these conversations will launch initiatives forward with full transparency and enhanced cooperation throughout the institution. 

The key to a successful workshop is to focus on the mission that the initiative will support. If the discussion gets too specific, the audience may become defensive or get lost in the details of the changes that are coming, which can distract from the larger conversation. Keeping the conversation mission-oriented will motivate and inspire the audience, as well as draw them back to why they are passionate about their work. 

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS 

Identifying the most effective questions to drive productive conversation is imperative. Facilitating advantageous conversation provides leadership with a great opportunity to collect unique perspectives and high-level experiences during these workshops. 

For example, Swim hosted a workshop with St. Cloud Technical and Community College concentrating on enrollment strategies. Our goal was to conduct a conversation where the group provided feedback on what they felt were institutional barriers that SCTCC created for new and returning students to enroll and re enroll. Instead of asking for specific solutions to increase enrollment, this method allowed leadership to accomplish two things: 

      1. Created self-reflection for the faculty and staff about what the institution could improve upon to enhance the student experience, rather than focusing on how the students could act differently. 
      2. Allowed participants to be on the ground floor of creating the larger solutions, not just specific new processes or projects within their own department. 

During the facilitation, Swim suggests a designated recorder to capture participant responses. The facilitation team will then have the ability to gather this insight from the larger collective and share with the entire college community, so those who could not participate can still be involved. 

This kind of engagement is critical in building staff rapport during times of change and establish a foundation of transparency, collaboration and acceptance. However, these all faculty and staff workshops can be challenging to facilitate due to the extensive time they take to organize and conduct. Another viable option is to engage staff by gathering information through surveys or focus groups. Both will allow the organization to build on the work done by the executive team and move the initiative or project forward.