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Leading Change: Are You Really Engaging Employees – Part 3 of 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of our case study.

In this last part of the case study, we’ll share what we did to get the stakeholder committee, and therefore this project, back on track and heading in the right direction. You’ll recall in Part 2 we were going to be meeting with the leadership team to discuss the survey responses and follow up meeting with the stakeholders, as well as share the stakeholders’ proposal for collaborating with the leadership team.

The Leadership Meeting

The leadership was committed to this project and wanted support of employees. They realized that it was important to have this support if they were going to be successful. They just really didn’t understand what that meant for employees. The biggest issue, we learned, was that their perception of involvement by stakeholders was dramatically different than the stakeholders’ perception of their involvement in this project. My goal in this meeting was to come to agreement on a model that would work for both the leadership team and the stakeholder committee.

Let’s jump to the outcome of the leadership meeting.

After 30 minutes of presentation on the results of the survey and the meeting with the stakeholders, as well as discussions around a number of questions and concerns proposed by the leadership group, the following was agreed upon:

  • Meetings with the stakeholder committee would be held bi-weekly and leadership team members would be represented at each meeting (not necessarily the entire leadership team at each meeting.) Meetings would include time for review and discussion around problems that needed to be solved related to the change initiative. Stakeholder committee meetings would be provided time to provide feedback and ideas on how to address issues and solve problems that were discussed during the meeting.
  • Stakeholder committee input would be considered and questions addressed prior to final decisions being made. (It should be noted this did not mean that the leadership team was giving decision-making authority – nor did the stakeholders expect they would – but rather would listen to the input of those doing the work and use that input to develop a solution that made sense. This was particularly important to stakeholders as they wanted to be able to champion the project and explain decisions made to the rest of the organization.

The leadership team did agree to hold a stakeholder meeting to review decisions already made regarding the restructuring of the organization to see how those decisions might be adjusted based on new information from the committee.

A day after this meeting, I met with the stakeholder committee to share this information. This was exactly what they wanted and they were pleased that the leadership team was willing to engage them differently on this project.

In summary

Not every initiative I have intervened in has been this easy; they can sometimes be a struggle. For some of those initiatives where it is more of a struggle it takes more effort to sell the value of including non-leadership in decision making about organizational changes. In this particular case, both the stakeholder committee and the leadership wanted this to be successful. In order to structure these collaborative situations effectively from the start, it is essential to be clear about expectations around involvement. For some leaders I have worked with this has been difficult because they feel that employees than want to make all the decisions. This is rarely the case. In most all situations the employees simply want to be heard – their ideas, thoughts and suggestions taken into consideration in making a final decision. This is a good thing! This shows the employees are engaged and care about the organization. And, let’s face it, they are doing the work that helps the organization to be a success. It just makes sense to listen to what they have to say.

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