Congratulations! You’ve started implementing your change initiative, following the steps laid out in your plan.
Smooth sailing from now on, right?
Unfortunately, you are going to face bumps along the way. Some of them will come from within the organization. And, as a member of the change team, it can be hard to hear some of this internal feedback.
- You may be busy with actually implementing the plan.
- You might dismiss challenging feedback from “the usual sources.”
- You might have few mechanisms to hear from people most impacted by the changes.
While these pressures are real, they do not release you from the need to pay attention to how the changes are impacting the experience and perception of staff. You benefit by hearing from your stakeholders as they can bring valuable insights that can allow you to steer the initiative out of looming trouble.
A leader that I worked with called this “taking the temperature.” That’s a great metaphor!
There is a simple process that you can follow to create a “Change Monitoring Group” that will keep you informed about the temperature of the organization’s response to the changes you are making.
Here’s how we supported a client in doing this for a multi-year organizational wide change process:
- Identify and invite a cross-section of staff to be part of the group. Be sure to include a diverse group that represents different departments/functions, as well as different levels. It can be helpful for one or more members of the change team to participate – they can provide crucial information to the group, and can also convey the temperature back to the change team.
- Charter the group so that it is clear on its mandate. Define the duration of the commitment they are making to be part of this group. Establish the rhythm of meetings and other forms of engagement (monthly? bi-monthly? some other frequency?). Agree on how group discussions will be treated. Are all discussions confidential? What can be reported to others? Identify group roles to enable the group’s work to be effective, such as meeting leader, scribe, etc.
- Make use of the core roles of the group. For this client, the key roles of the group are to serve as Antenna (listening and reporting on how the changes are being experienced by staff), Sounding Board (considering and giving feedback on ideas and proposals from the change team), and Champions (promoting the benefit of the change to their colleagues, and taking up selected projects that support the change initiative).
- Meet regularly to engage the group members. Use these gatherings to hear from members in their Antenna role (what are they hearing from colleagues across the organization?), and to test new ideas with them as a Sounding Board.
- Refresh membership and mandate as needed. If you have embarked on an extended change initiative, it can be helpful to allow group members to rotate off and be replaced by new members. This respects the time and contribution they have made as staff representatives. It also allows you a chance to review and refresh the group’s mandate. Is it still meeting its intended purpose? Does it need to be updated in light of changes in the plan?
This tip is one of several that leaders can use when Cultivating Change.
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