Building Engagement in Change

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.” Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Dutch painter

It is that time of year. Tax time. Taxes…an undisputed fact of life, joined only by death. I would like to add another ‘fact of life’ to the list of the facts of life:

Number 3: There will always be barriers to successful change.

However, this does not mean you should stop trying to bring about a needed change. Instead, try learning to identify and understand what those barriers may be; then, prepare yourself with strategies and tactics to deal with those barriers.

One common barrier is see frequently in trying to help an organization bring about change is building employee engagement in the change across the organization. How do you get people to embrace the change?

  • Communicate the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? How does this change relate to my daily job, or does it? How and in what ways will I be affected by this change? Don’t underestimate the amount of communication needed to enable and support successful change.
  • Involve folks in the change as much as possible. It may slow down the uptake of the change, but it will help sustain change absorption. Identify the people / groups who will be affected by the change, and determine how to involve them in the change process. Find sponsors who are respected in the organization. Show these sponsors how you can help them and then ask for their support.

Don’t ‘remain ashore’ and not give change a try. More than once, I’ve seen my staunchest ‘No Change Here’ colleagues  become my strongest, most engaged supporters of a change. Just remember to have some fun and keep your wits about you!

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Sandra Schwan

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