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Fixing Engagement To Drive Change (Part 3/3)

Engaging Teams To Enable Change

Written by:
Tanguy Pellen
Tanguy Pellen

Click to read Part 1 (Engaging Leadership Partners Into The Imperative Of Change) here
Click to read Part 2 (Engaging Mid-Level Management To Enable Change) here

“When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute” – Simon Sinek

Positive engagement of the majority is not an easy feat, but critical to the success of any transformation. In this final article from the three part series ‘Fixing Engagement to Drive Change’, we delve into the engagement necessary at team level to enable change.

Learnings from the battlefield

Skarbek Associates and some of the companies we work with have delivered successful transformational change programs on a large to very large scale. Here are some of the tips and learnings we have gathered and structured to help companies and leaders facing similar challenges.

Engaging TEAMS to enable change

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, only 15% of employees are engaged in the workplace. This is already a problem for any organisation in happy sailing times, but at times of change it makes the difference between success and failure, as lack of engagement can transform quickly into disruptive disengagement.

Some of the dynamics you might observe in the teams faced with change include:

  • Change fatigue – ‘Yet another change’ met with cynicism and resignation to ‘whatever will be will be’. Start point is low engagement
  • Functional / geographic protective silo mentality “shutters down”
  • Sense of loss – people will initially focus on what they have to give up in the change
  • Isolation – individuals often feel alone in the face of change
  • Resentment towards decisions in which they had no say – and might not necessarily fully understand or support, but will transform their world, which they might have thought worked well
  • Powerlessness and loss of self-esteem – a sense that what you do or think doesn’t matter to senior leaders
  • Loss of trust in leadership and line management – typically from second level management up
  • Fear of losing a job and a pay cheque

Some approaches and tools to consider to bring teams on side:

  • Don’t keep the possibility of change a secret for too long – Although an element of secrecy is unavoidable in leading transformation, it is best to avoid deploying announcements without prior engagement into the possibility of change. On top of being an opportunity to gather early input, soft informal (or formal) consultation will drive buy-in and faster acceptance of decisions eventually made.
  • Carefully craft the narrative – Ensure there is a well thought through [written] change narrative. Written for the opportunity to develop precision and craft messages not only for their logic, but also their emotional impact. On delivery, ensure “on-track” messaging.
  • Share and sell the vision early – Like with the mid-level management (ref Part 2 article), the first priority is to take teams through the WHY, the rationale for change and vision of what the future can be like for the business, for its competitiveness, and the new opportunities this will bring for individuals. Empathy and honesty being essential in delivery.
  • Bring quick visibility of “what it means for me” at individual level – Similar to approach with managers (ref Part 2 article), the line management of each individual will have to understand specific circumstances and drivers of each team member, capture what can uniquely be in the change for each person, and help people navigate realities and opportunities that could be in it for them.
  • Involve volunteers into early experimentation – On top of being a great way to test and improve destination models, being given the opportunity to experiment and try different models of working within the boundaries set by the change imperative helps adoption of the mindset cascade down through the organisation.
  • Involve teams in delivery – A huge driver of engagement is in leveraging an individual’s strengths, expertise and knowledge to lead specific areas of the transformation. Whether it is about leading training chapters for the new world, taking the responsibility for new hire on-boarding, leading the execution of putting new infrastructures together, or designing new office layout and decoration, involving the teams in delivery of critical elements of transformation builds trust by being given trust. It builds a sense of pride and value in individual expertise and contributions. Most, if not all, members of the team should be involved in facets of the transformation.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – 1:1 connection with the line manager and second line manager will need to be repeated as regular check-in exercises. A significant investment of time, but one that brings a lot of insights and rewards in trust, sense of value and pride.
  • Celebrate progress – Transformation projects often involve much of the organisation having to stretch beyond core responsibilities over long period of times. Regular celebration of achievements and progress is necessary to keep motivation high and encourage continual investment into the project.
  • Get your team in end-state design as early as possible – Actively disruptive individuals that cannot be brought into the vision and spirit of what needs to be delivered should be moved on as early as possible. Where recruitment is needed, it should be activated as early as possible to build positive vibe and momentum, and ensure capture of critical knowledge if loss of critical individuals is to be expected.

Find out more about how Skarbek Associates can help you in your transformation project by getting in touch.