In this blog, =mc‘s Principal Learning & Development Consultant Charlotte Scott shares insights on how to engage staff throughout a change process, by first analysing what’s driving the change.
From Charity CEO: We are a growing organisation, and our programme work has grown significantly in the last three years. But we in danger of spreading ourselves too thin, perhaps even over-expanding and not making the impact we want. We need to focus more, and find smarter ways to leverage our resources. That will mean stopping some current programmes and probably saying no to some future opportunities that arise. But how do I explain this change of approach to staff, when they are so passionate about what we do, in a way that engages rather than alienates them?
To engage people in any change, you need to explain why change is needed. If people don’t have a real understanding of what is driving the change they won’t get on board.
These reasons for the change can vary – there could be positive drivers: possibilities or potential we believe is possible. Or there can be negative drivers: problems and issues we need to address.
The reasons for the change might be happening right now, or they might be events that could or will happen in the future.
To engage people in your change you need to identify where your drivers fit within these two factors:
This gives you four ways to present the issues you’re trying to address:
Opportunities: are positive events or issues which are happening right now which we must take advantage of
Vision: are concrete possibilities, which, if we make the most of, will create a positive outcome in the future
Risk: serious problems which could happen in the future that we need to do something about now
Crisis: serious problems and issues happening right now that we have to address or the consequences will be very serious
When analysing the reasons for your change, they will often fit into many of these categories, and maybe all four at various point on the change journey. That’s great. That means you can communicate your change in a variety of ways.
People respond very differently to the way change is proposed. Some people are more inclined to respond to positive messages; others won’t be willing to change unless there is a genuine worry which forces them to. Some people are orientated to think about the future; others will only get on board if they can see there really is an immediate need to do so.
In your example you could explain the need for change in all four ways:
We all know that in any change programme – communication is key. And explaining the reasons for your change is just the start of your engagement plan. You then need to discuss what will need to be done and what will people actually need to do. And do make it a dialogue – allowing your teams to join the discussion and add to any change proposal. But if your staff don’t understand the reasons why change is needed first, any engagement plan will definitely fail.