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Leading Change: Are You Really Engaging Employees - Part 1 of 3

Or, do you just think you are?

Let me share a client story. A long-term client who usually brings me in to lead training sessions with employees mentioned to me over lunch one day that the organization was in the early stages of a large change initiative and they were having some problems. She wanted to talk to me about coming in to do some consulting with the executive team around how to better manage the change and ensure it was successful. She shared with me that they had just had a stakeholder meeting (the 3rd one since the start of the project) last week and the feedback from stakeholders about the project to date was not good. In fact, a number of the stakeholders didn’t come to this recent meeting. Those that did come had less than positive things to say about the change initiative. When my client reached out to those stakeholders who didn’t show just to find out what was going on, they all said pretty much the same thing – leadership is doing what they want so why bother participating.

Let’s step back and share more about this change initiative.

The Change Project

The change project started 3 months ago. It was a large initiative that was expected to be about 12 – 14 months in duration. There was significant restructuring going on within the organization to enable for improved growth and expansion. There would be no job losses due to the restructuring. In fact, the organization was expecting to hire about 8 – 10 new employees over the next 6 – 8 months in both management and non-management roles. The change was being led by the senior leadership team. At the behest of my client contact – the VP of Human Resources – the leadership team agreed to pull together individuals from throughout the organization to serve on a stakeholder committee. My client’s goal was that this group would provide input to the change project and help to champion the change throughout the organization. She had shared this goal with the senior leadership team and had assisted them at selecting a number of individuals from across the organization representing both management and non-management roles.

Due to required travel, my client was unable to attend the first two stakeholder committee meetings. The first one she had attended was the third one. As mentioned earlier, this meeting was not a positive one.  She had spoken to the senior leadership team and they agreed to have me come in and speak with the stakeholder committee to determine what was going on and how we could get the project back on track.

The Stakeholder Committee Meeting and Survey

In collaboration with my client, we decided the best way to get information was through a survey and then a follow up meeting with the stakeholder committee members. The survey would enable us to structure the conversation with the committee members. Our goal was to get information as quickly as possible that we could use to correct course.

The survey had three open-ended questions:

  • What were your expectations being part of the stakeholder committee?
  • Are those expectations being met?
    • If so, how are they being met?
    • If not, why are they not being met?
  • How would you like to be involved in this change project?

We gave the stakeholders 5 business days to respond to the survey and then set up a follow up meeting to talk further.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will share the results of the survey and the conversations during the follow up meeting with the stakeholder committee members.

In Part 3, I’ll share what we did to get the project back on track and re-engage the stakeholder committee.