It’s good to talk – getting the right people around the table
Higher education institutions, by their very nature, include with all kinds of professional and academic specialisms, personal contexts, and insights. Even better than that, we’re in the business of thinking differently, and educating future generations of changemakers.
By and large, universities have an almost unparalleled diversity of thought and a wealth of knowledge. But are we making the most of this when it comes to institutional challenges?
Gift of the gab
At Halpin, we include interviews, focus groups, and other kinds of consultation in nearly every project we work on, with nearly every client. They can be tricky to arrange, involve a lot of calendar wrangling, and there’s every chance we’ll need to arrange and rearrange.
Complexities aside, we love talking to our clients’ people, and our work is better for it. Tapping into even just a small percentage of a community and having conversations about the project we’re undertaking brings multiple benefits.
Sharing is caring
Bringing your people into everything you do can boost your activities for multiple reasons:
- You’re harnessing the talent that already exists in your institution, whether it’s their professional or academic specialism.
- People in your community are likely to be motivated to find the best solution.
- Your people are more likely to feel positive about a change if they’ve been involved in shaping it, or are invited to.
- You’re more likely to pick up on snags early on and design them out by the time of implementation.
Mind the step
While involving your community in your projects is a worthwhile approach, do so with consideration.
When you speak with your colleagues and students, remember they are contributing in addition to their primary reason for being at your institution. Recognise them appropriately, ensure they are comfortable in contributing, and don’t place unnecessary burden on their involvement.
Also, pay attention to balance; there may be very vocal supporters of one element of your new strategy from one department, but have you considered the perspectives of another department that will be equally, but perhaps negatively, affected?
A talking point
Involving your people through 1:1 interviews, group discussions, surveys, online discussions, town halls or any other combination of steps will inevitably take time, patience and several cups of something hot and caffeinated. But new processes, policies, strategies and approaches will be more robust for engaging the experts and those interested in our communities.
Halpin works with universities across four key areas, if you are seeking expert consultancy contact us to find out how we can help.