The residential HERS program met this past weekend to address our “Change Challenges”. We were asked to write up the challenges we face in our institutions in a fictionalized fashion as case studies. I had my new boss, who just started on September 1, read mine to introduce her to some of the issues related to my organizational unit and to ensure that I had not inadvertently left in any identifiers or confidential information.
Even with this redacted telling of my current work challenges, the responses for the group were heart wrenching for me. I had outlined the challenges I face and asked the group for help with the implementation of some of the specific tasks I need to accomplish. I really wanted an action plan. How could I best do the tasks that have been assigned to me? The group, including these amazing women who serve(d) as college presidents or chancellors, almost universally suggested that perhaps these were not the best questions. The real question was whether I should be doing this at all. They suggested that my real goal is to determine how then can I articulate the challenges associated with the tasks to which I have been assigned to the appropriate people so that they might more fully understand the situation.
Many of them recommended that my number one action item was to start job hunting. Granted I have had the one interview for my dream job but that opportunity is (realistically) a long shot. But they should pick me.
Our next homework assignment is to interview a number of senior administrators at our respective institutions to learn their thoughts on:
- What are the major issues facing higher education today and in the next few years?
- What are the major issues facing the institution today? In the next five to ten years?
- What change initiatives are underway on the campus or planned for the near future? Are there any special initiatives to stabilize the environment after periods of major change?
- What have been the most challenging aspects of leading people through change on our campus (or within particular units)? How have you addressed these?
- What are the major resource issues facing the institution over the next several years? In general, how does the institution see its financial environment for the next several years and what strategies will it use to respond to this situation?
Luckily the other woman from my institution in the HERS program is willing to do these interviews jointly with me. Perhaps it is cowardly but I really do not want some of these people’s undivided attention until I have a solid communication plan in case they ask about my “change challenge” or my overall HERS Institute experience.