Gaining and Sustaining the Momentum for Change (Stakeholder Engagement)

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Did you upgrade your HD TV the moment 4K was on the market? Do you upgrade your smart phone or tablet every year? Do you embrace change or do you prefer to see the results first? The answers to these questions may define whether you are an innovator, early adopter or even a laggard.

Of course we may react differently depending on the situation but the point being made, is that we as human beings, all behave differently when faced with change. Understanding these differences and creating strategies to engage with each different group of stakeholders is an essential task for any Change Manager. This short blog will look at basic strategies for managing different stakeholders that are in various stages of the idea adoption cycle.

For free consultation contact us at Platinum Training Consultants

Let’s add some theory to this topic and build a broader understanding by looking at Everett Rogers’s (2004) innovation adoption model. (This tool is very effective when we have a larger population of key stakeholders involved in our change initiatives.)

Figure 1: The Innovation Adoption Curve

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Innovators (2.5%)

Innovators are enthusiasts. They desire new technology or fashions. In regards to change they are accepting, risk-takers and demanding – they are your pioneers

Early Adopters (13.5%)

Like innovators they are pioneers. They have enthusiasm for change and embrace it. In regards to change management they are a very powerful group that lead by example.

Early Majority (34%)

The early majority prefer to take a more measured approach to adoption but are generally welcoming and positive. They can be persuaded to accept new ideas and change.

Late Majority (34%)

The late majority are more cautious in regards to adopting new ideas and change. They’ll stay on the sidelines and look at the results before taking action (or not). They will resist change, if initial results are not positive.

Laggards (16%)

Laggards will resist all new ideas and change. They are traditionalists and are suspicious of any change. They can also poison others and create the ‘band wagon’ effect (influence others to think negatively) in regards to new ideas. They need to be carefully managed.

Let’s now look at some simple strategies for leveraging and managing the adoption curve’s various stakeholders.

Innovators and early adopters are our best source of support and are a powerful group. They lead by example and inspire others. To best leverage this group we should:

  • utilise their enthusiasm and get them involved in any pilot schemes, testing, or focus groups;
  • regularly meet with them to get feedback on challenges, improvements and / or further changes;
  • make them ‘champions of change’ and change agents;
  • enlist them into a ‘volunteer army’; (John P. Kotter’s Accelerate Model)
  • Use them to positively influence all other stakeholders in the adoption cycle.

The majorities need more support and information. As discussed they can easily be persuaded to embrace the change, but can also be influenced to resist. To engage with this we group we should:

  • communicate all of the benefits and opportunities of change;
  • clearly explain ‘what’ the change will entail;
  • get senior management to convey these messages;
  • enlist the help of your ‘champions’;
  • keep communication channels open and respond to any concerns;

The laggards must be carefully analysed and understood. We must understand reasons for their resistance – is it because of pre-determined cognitive biases (Kahneman 2012) or are there valid reasons for their position? What ever their resistance is based on, it’s important that we:

  • provide extra support; (training / communications / information /etc.)
  • keep communication channels open and two-way;
  • listen to their concerns;
  • empathise with and try to address these concerns;
  • encourage them and give them the opportunity to get involved in solution finding;
  • act on their suggestions; (if reasonable)
  • emphasise all of the benefits of change;
  • enlist the help of ‘champions’ to show all of the successes of pilot schemes or early adoption wins.

Let’s end this short blog with 4 of APMG International Change Management Group’s Principle’s of Stakeholder Engagement. These 4 principles are all based on managing relationships and mobilising stakeholders, and are closely connected to all the previously stated guidelines on adoption cycle management:

Principe 1: Some stakeholders are best engaged by others. (your champions)

Principle 2: Seek first to understand, and then be understood.

Principle 3: Emotion trumps reason. (Always start with the ‘why’ and connect / adjust emotional benefits to each stakeholder’s beliefs, needs or stage in the change cycle)

Principle 4: Demonstration trumps argument. (Show practical benefits and successes of pilot schemes, benchmark similar initiatives and / or use your champions to illustrate their wins)

Conclusion

Stakeholder analysis and engagement is a crucial part of any change management strategy. Do it effectively and you significantly increase the chance of success, however, neglect it and you risk the chance of failure.

At Platinum we offer a full range of professional level Change Management programs with all courses being facilitated by fully accredited trainers.

For free consultation contact us at Platinum Training Consultants

 

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