5 Tips to Better Engage People for Successful Change

Silhouettes of many hands showing how to better engage people for successful change

The Basics of Organizational Change
You need to better engage people for successful change.

No one should undertake an organizational change initiative lightly. This is especially true for complex organizational change initiatives where the majority (up to 70% by most accounts) fail.

Why do they fail? One of the main reasons is inadequate preparation on the part of senior leaders.  They have not gained enough understanding or spent enough time engaging their employees to get behind the initiative.  Too many employees are left on the shore with no compelling reason to dive in and pull the company in the new direction.

Why People Resist Change
People naturally resist change. They accept the current situation and they are comfortable with that familiarity. In general, we feel fear and anxiety about the unknown, as well as uncertainty about whether the future will be an improvement over the status quo.

Overcoming Resistance
The key to successful change is getting stakeholders involved early on and earning their support.   The challenge then becomes how to engage stakeholders which should include employees, customers, partners, and suppliers.

Five Tips to Better Engage People for Successful Change

1. Find a Shared Purpose
Work together to define common goals and a compelling vision of the future benefits of the change. Until employees understand what’s in it for them and how they are united in their purpose, it will be hard to persuade them that the change is in their best interests.

2. Include Employees at the Outset
If employees are involved in the design and planning from the beginning, they will have a sense of ownership and skin in the game. Too many leaders leave employees out of the early planning sessions and are surprised that, when they inform the workforce of the change, there is not universal support.

3. Craft the Solution
With the vision in mind and the employees at the table, put together the steps required to implement the change. Solicit the input of front-line workers so you can consider carefully the effect of each step and prioritize and sequence the work in a coordinated fashion.  Establish some principles that will guide you all going forward.

4. Provide Forums to Air Concerns
You will need to proactively seek feedback from employees as you begin the execution phase. Whether you conduct a survey, have one-on-one conversations with key individuals or set up meetings where ideas and questions are encouraged, find a way that works in your culture to listen well to your constituents.

5. Solicit, Listen to and Deal with Contrary Thinking
Most employees will probably agree with the way things are unfolding. But you really need to listen to those who question what’s happening.  Be open to their criticisms so you can evaluate whether you need to tweak the plan or explain what is realistic and feasible.

The Bottom Line
Put people at the center of organizational change.  They are the ones who can ensure your change initiative is truly successful.

To learn more about how to better engage people for successful change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change Leadership

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