Are you on track to deliver your vision for 2020?

Engaging Employees in Change

The year is already well underway and most people I talk to have big plans for 2020. What are you aiming for this year?

Within the broader context there are plenty of changes afoot, as well as a few uncertainties, not least of which is the “B” word (Brexit!). With so much to be done, pace is critical and yet this seems to be one of the biggest challenges faced in businesses: How can I get my changes done more quickly?

A common approach is to add more people, especially in project roles, in the hope that the additional horsepower will lead to quicker progress. This can work in certain circumstances but in others it can add to the problem, increasing cost and even slowing progress in some circumstances. More project management or PMO doesn’t necessarily equal more progress but it always adds cost.

If you have that gut feeling that you could (even should) be moving more quickly then there may be a place you’re not looking, or at least not closely enough. And you’re in good company because most don’t.

One of the biggest predictors of success is engagement. Specifically the degree to which your team or staff are emotionally invested in the changes or projects you are trying to get done. Put simply, the more they buy into it the more quickly and easily change happens.

Stating the obvious? Maybe, but the reality is that whilst engagement is recognised as a topic, it’s often paid little more than lip service. It’s one thing recognising it intellectually and developing engagement strategies but quite another to actually achieve it.

Our response to any change is always personal and some may find it exciting whilst for others it’s threatening. And what’s avoided in communications can be as damaging to engagement as what is said; we’re all great at joining the dots, often drawing a more pessimistic or dramatic picture than the real one. And if we feel threatened we dis-engage.

Don’t leave the level of engagement to chance – find out

Seeking honest feedback is critical. Whilst one to one discussions could and should be part of the answer there are two main challenges:

  1. In face to face situations there may be a tendency for people to tell you what they think you want to hear, especially if they fear any judgement or repercussions.
  2. At a practical level it can be hard to do this at scale, i.e. Where 100’s or 1000’s of people are involved or affected.

Using a confidential survey, specifically designed to test for change engagement factors, can offer a useful alternative as anonymous surveys can encourage greater honesty and can be used easily at scale. See a sample one here and test your own engagement in a change you are familiar with: Check your Change Readiness

However you seek the feedback, the insights you gain by digging deeper will help you to get much smarter with your communications and actions. You’ll be able to target any weak areas in the confidence that it will have the biggest impact. And once the brakes are off, and the sources of resistance start to ease, the pace increases and the stress reduces.

So if you have a lot to get done this year, consider the fuel that will get you there. Engagement is about having your team want what you want as much as you do and feeling comfortable, even excited, for their future. Once you achieve that, everything gets so much easier.