In any discussion of change leadership, most practitioners place a high emphasis on the
criticality of communication. It is true that communication is vital component – our operational teams have to know what is happening.
However there is one approach that is far more successful than communication in leading change – involvement.
If you think about it, communication is quite passive. The speaker does not have to relate to the audience or engage personally with the listeners but they can deliver a talk and tick the box that says that it is done. The listener does not have to engage with the talk or understand the content – it is their choice.
As leaders we cannot and would not want to compel involvement but most people would accept the opportunity to contribute provided they believe the opportunity to be a real one.
The most important team to involve is the senior leadership team.
They have responsibility for the organisation and will need to approve all major decisions. Any wise change team will involve the leadership team in shaping decisions. Consigning them to a Go / No-go decision on a fully developed proposal wastes an opportunity to include their experience at best and at worst it will alienate them.
Other groups should also be involved for the good of the programme and for the good of them as individuals.
These groups might include the current work teams, middle managers and team leaders, employee representatives etc. Examples of involvement opportunities:
- Education workshops at the start of the programme to share the approach to be used.
- Programme launch.
- Proposal / solution development.
- Implementation planning.
- Specific implementation issues.
Any involvement opportunity should be well facilitated as this will ensure that the involvement opportunity is seen as genuine.
A time of open questions is always essential at these events. One additional approach that I have found to work well in many environments is a syndicate group exercise (with feedback) at the end of the workshop asking the participants:
- What do you see as the benefits of the approach / proposal?
- What concerns do you have with what is proposed?
- What issues would you like to see addressed to improve the changes of success?
Improvement in organisations is only achieved when those who add value are equipped to do better things with their heads, hands and hearts. Involvement is the most effective way of opening this door.
Hartswood Management Ltd
Delivering real transformation
Suggestions for further actions:
- Review the regular communication programme in your organisation and consider how this might be adapted for a programme of change.
- Review examples of involvement during change in your organisation – what has worked well and what lessons can be learned?
- Read Changing Spots – a systems approach to change management for understanding how a senior leadership team should approach leadership decisions (see www.changingspots.co.uk).
For advice on structuring your transformation or change programme please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For further insights please visit – www.hartswoodmanagement.co.uk/insights