The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Day Two at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference

This post was contributed by Justin Harris, human resources generalist at Tennessee State University.

The resounding theme for my second day at the CUPA-HR annual conference was “change isn’t easy, but it’s necessary and it’s possible.”

My morning began with the Higher Education HR Awards ceremony where our peers were awarded for outstanding service and accomplishments. This was inspiring as I thought of the possibilities for my department and institution.

Immediately after the awards presentation, we had the pleasure of hearing from globally-recognized innovation leader and futurist, Lisa Bodell. Bodell, the founder and CEO of futurethink and best-selling author, inspired us to not only think about who we are as institutions, but who we are becoming. Providing a preview from her book, Kill The Company: End the Status Quo, Start an Innovation Revolution, Bodell spoke about how simplicity and doing away with unnecessary rules and processes is one of the best methods to stay relevant and to move forward successfully. By thinking like our competition and thinking of ways to “kill” our own company or department, she challenged us to self-reflect and create new solutions, not just make old ones better.

Succession planning was my focus in the middle of the day, as I learned of low-cost ways to build a successful leadership development program. Presenters from the University of Michigan stressed the importance of investing in our leaders early and often, as they are the future and foundation of our organizations. Without a strong pipeline of development, our ideas, energy and buy-in will leave with our seasoned employees.

Changing the perception of human resources on our campuses was a hot topic during the session “We Are Not the Enemy: Positioning HR as a Trusted Ally.” Group discussions and case studies got everyone involved as we created a road map for building strategic alliances essential to moving our organizations forward.

My day concluded with hearing first-hand how difficult yet fulfilling HR transformation on a campus can be. By forming the right relationships and obtaining support from the right people, change and improvement is possible, even when faced with resistance. My major takeaway was that any transformation in our organizations starts with small successes and building credibility before making attempts to go against the grain.

How are change initiatives received on your campus? What methods and techniques do you use to garner buy-in and support from key decision makers?