Before I started LetsVidya, I was a student pastor for 15 years, and this week as I have engaged with people using #SHRM22 I find myself wondering how similar HR conferences are to student ministry conferences. Every year student pastors go to conferences very similar to #SHRM22, get inspired and challenged, take great notes, meet lots of like-minded people, and leave ready to execute everything they have learned. The challenge is that they return to organizations that are not ready to change.
If you are someone who has been at #SHRM22 the last few days and is heading back into an organization that historically has been resistant to change, here are 6 pro tips to add to your notebook.
- Evolution over Revolution: Small changes over time will drastically change the course of an organization. Remember that everyone is not as far in this journey as you are. You went to the conference because you get it, you see the value, and you understand that things need to change. Now that you are home, your job is to help others get to this point. Implementing what you learned is often a marathon as opposed to a sprint. Are there times to be a revolutionary leader? Absolutely, but make sure you understand the cost & casualties that a revolutionary move will take.
Can you invest in the evolutionary process or is it time for a revolution? If it is time for a revolution, what is the possible fallout and who are the casualties? If you can evolve, what does a 1% change today look like?
2. Pick the Low Hanging Fruit: Some of your conference takeaways will be easy to implement and others are more challenging. As much as we want to tackle the challenging ones first, I would encourage you to take the easy wins. Easy wins allow you to build momentum, gather stories of success, and show others the value. Once you have these wins and stories, going after the more challenging wins becomes a little easier. Trying to go after the big wins too early and without success stories often leads to frustration and disappointment.
As you travel home find three things that will be the easiest to implement and start with those.
3. Cast a Compelling Vision & Get Others Involved: As the organizational pioneer, you can see the desired future and you see the value in going there. Others in your organization are willing to pioneer with you, they just need help seeing that desired future. Find this group of people, most likely they are the ones you along with the easiest, cast a compelling vision of what could be, empower them to be pioneers, and release them to take new cultural ground. Change is most effective when there is a group of people excited about it and moving in the same direction.
Who are the people you get along with the most? How can you cast vision and empower them?
4. Remember you are not alone: Leaving #SHRM22 and isolating yourself from everyone you met with and engaged with is a recipe for disaster. During your time in NOLA, you interacted with people who not only get it but are also returning to situations very similar to yours. Stay in touch with these people, they get you, your struggles, and the heart behind why you are trying to make the change. Regularly connect to share your wins and your losses, encourage each other, and celebrate the wins.
Who are the people you met at the conference you want to keep in touch with? What is a realistic rhythm for strategically engaging with them? When will your first catch-up call be?
5. Contextualize Everything: The beautiful part about your organization, and why you love what you do, are the people you get to work with. Because every person is different, the organizations they make up are unique and different. One of the most important things I think you can take away from this blog is that just because it worked somewhere else does not mean it will work in your context. As leaders, one of the most important things we have to do is contextualize everything for our people and our organization. Behind everything, you learned HOW to do has a WHY. Your job is now to figure out HOW to tackle the WHY in your context.
What are the WHYs you want to tackle? HOW will you contextualize the strategy for your people and organization?
6. Understand That Some Things May Never Change and It’s Not Your Fault: There may come a point where you have done everything you can do, and the organization does not look any different. If this is the case, you must understand YOU DID NOT FAIL! Your organization is bigger than one person or a small group of people, and you can only do so much. If you were faithful in the small things, have led with integrity, and given it everything you can, the lack of change is not on you. The challenge now is you have a decision to make. Can you continue to live and lead within the organization wholeheartedly or is it time to find a new organization that better aligns with your desired future reality?
If you are in the spot, do not go at it alone. Share your experiences, wins, and frustrations with trusted friends/peers outside the organization. Invite them into the experience with you and ask them for wisdom and guidance as you try to discern what is right for you. If you want a complete outside sounding board, I am more than willing to connect and hear your story. I don’t know your business, but I know people and want to see them thrive. Let’s find a time and talk.
Do you have other tips that you would add? Let’s hear them!
If not, I will leave you with one of the things that I told students/leaders over and over again. You are not alone in the journey. I am for you, I am in your corner, and I will be your biggest cheerleader if you will let me. So go and do great things!