This post is the fourth of a five-part series on Peak Development’s CLEAR Model of Change©, which encompasses Communication, Leadership, Education, Active Involvement, and Reinforcement. Be sure to read the previous installments, and become a subscriber to Peak Development’s free, monthly Article Review Service to be notified when future installments are published.
“Active involvement” lies at the center of Peak Development’s CLEAR Model of Change©. It is what underpins every other element of our model and creates sustainable results in your organizational change initiatives. Quite simply, people will nurture what they help create; to ensure success, discover ways for those affected by a change to play a role in bringing it to life.
For employees, these can include:
- Formal opportunities—design and implementation teams, task forces, and other ways to be directly involved in the work of making change happen.
- Providing input and feedback—through focus groups, surveys, suggestion boxes, or social media, as well as by leaders regularly finding time to interact with employees one-on-one and invite their feedback.
- Being proactive—encourage employees not to wait to be asked, but to actively look for ways to contribute, and to raise their voices when they have ideas.
- Being a positive role model for peers—find ways to highlight behavior that reinforces the changes you are trying to make happen; make it visible. Mention people by name in team meetings, town halls, and other communications, and empower team members to recognize one another.
For those leading organizations, active involvement manifests itself in a variety of ways: commitment, passion, follow-through, marketing, charisma, a sense of urgency, patience, and more. It is the ability to sense and understand what is needed at any given point in time, and to leverage your skills, abilities, and the resources at your disposal toward maintaining momentum.
Leaders who are actively involved commit time and energy to managing stakeholders: thinking about how to engage a critical mass of supporters, what each group needs to be successful, and how their strategies and tactics need to change to reach different audiences. The Agreement-Trust Matrix can be useful in organizing your thinking around your stakeholder groups and engaging with them more intentionally. It is based around the idea that people engage with any change primarily based on two dimensions: their level of agreement with the change, and their level of trust in you personally or in your ability to successfully implement the change. You can get started in just three simple steps:
- Briefly list people who will be impacted by the change; be as specific as possible. Name the individuals. Depending on the scale of the change, you may need to do more than one Agreement-Trust Matrix (i.e. employees, customers, suppliers, etc.)
- Plot your stakeholders on the chart according to their level of agreement and their level of trust.
- Based on this diagram, decide how best to work with the individuals or groups that fall within each quadrant. How can you meet each individual or group where they live?
- Allies are among your best resources. Leverage these relationships to help you raise the agreement and/or trust of those in other quadrants
- Buds can be great sounding boards. Given their high trust in you, you are more likely to get honest feedback on why they have less agreement with the initiative. Use that data to improve your approach or craft communications that address the questions or concerns they have raised.
- Skeptics’ opinion of you and your abilities could be based on experience or simply a lack of exposure to you. In either case, involve them in shaping the idea or providing input on implementation. Working more closely with you affords them the opportunity to develop a higher level of trust.
- Since adversaries have low agreement and trust, leverage your allies or your buds to help move the idea forward. If you believe a skeptic may try to actively derail the initiative, develop good contingency plans for undesirable but possible actions the skeptic might take.
- If the majority of individuals fall in the lower agreement and trust quadrants (especially in the adversaries quadrant), consider the organization’s readiness for this change to be implemented; you may have greater success if you begin at another time.
This diagnostic should be something you revisit regularly, as your stakeholders’ placement—and therefore the ways you must communicate and work with them—may shift. Respondents to our earlier study on Shaping Organizational Culture agreed that communications are important across every stage of a culture change initiative—from inception, design, and launch, to implementation, realization, and sustainment. Yet, as I noted in the previous article in this series, organizations often over-invest on the front end of change initiatives, causing them to lose steam over time. Paying conscious attention to your stakeholders can help you manage that energy, staying ahead of minor problems before they become major issues. It’s your pull-through as a leader—your active involvement across every stage of the project--that makes success possible.
Think back on the change initiatives you’ve experienced in the past. How could you tell whether your leaders were actively involved? What did they do or say to let you know they were fully engaged? What did their behavior engender in you? Be aware that your organization is giving you that same level of scrutiny, and it is your active involvement that determines how sustainable a change initiative will be.
Read the next article in the series:
A CLEAR Model for Change, Part 5: Reinforcement