Engaging leaders in change

Engaging leaders in change

November 04, 2012   Category: Change communication

Last week was a rough one for New Jersey, but my colleague Julie Weissbach and I managed to hold our web workshop on change communication (with the help of MacGyver-like team members who used duct tape, a turkey baster and a transistor radio to overcome power and connection problems).

As usual, we designed the workshop to be interactive, and we were successful in having lots of dialogue with participants about ways to overcome change communication challenges.

One theme that kept coming up was how to engage leaders. Julie and I talked about how important it is for leaders to be "carry the flag" for change by being active advocates. We shared case studies of companies that have kick-started involvement by holding interactive sessions where leaders received a deep-dive on change and gained clarity about their role.

After the workshop, one participant followed up with a question. “My company is about to embark on a major change. We would like to get leaders involved, and I think a session would be a great way to do so. I’ve never conducted this type of leader workshop before, so I wanted to know what it it entail.”

I replied that it’s a little difficult to give general advice because a workshop should, first and foremost, be designed to meet specific objectives for what you need leaders to know, believe and do. Setting those objectives should be your first step.

Then I provided a few tips on holding a leader change session, which I thought would be helpful to share with you as well:

  • Gain a deep understanding of leaders' needs—by conducting interviews or focus groups—then make sure the workshop meets those needs.
  • Get the endorsement of the CEO or another senior leader for the workshop—and make sure that senior leader invites participants to attend, so they'll know that the session has the support of the boss.
  • Make the session as interactive as possible. The more leaders participate, the more engaged they will be, and the more they'll learn.
  • Choose the best facilitators for your company/culture. In some cases, external facilitators work best (because they lend credibility), but in other circumstances, internal staff members like HR managers are more effective (because they're "one of us.").
  • Consider providing tools, such as talking points, FAQs, a short PPT, for leaders to use afterwards.

Hope this is useful. If you have other questions about engaging leaders in change, or any other aspect of change communication, just let me know. Thanks.
 

 

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