Finding out about the plans clients and prospects have for the transformation of their business is one of the greatest perks of my job. One of the greatest frustrations is to hear, quite often, the same reasons why an internal communication initiative or employee engagement is the wrong thing to do.
Involve or Exclude?
It makes no sense to exclude the very people who are going to be affected by the coming changes and yet repeatedly they are. Since the days of Coch and French, who in 1948 who in there article “Overcoming Resistance to Change” it has been known that there is a highly beneficial impact of involving people in changes that affect them.
When people are excluded from the change process from the very beginning, they rarely exhibit the necessary levels of ownership and commitment to see the new idea or strategy through to successful implementation.
The level of ownership and commitments does go up when people are asked for opinions or input once the strategy or idea has been developed, but this pales in comparison to the levels achieved when people are involved in its creation.
The reverse of ownership is resistance and the likelihood is that if we don’t have one we will inevitably have the other…
Five common excuses
The five most common myths or reasons I hear for not running an inclusive internal comms or employee engagement work-stream as part of the change programme are:
- As CEO/MD ~ I have to keep a tight control on the outcomes, I don’t want my people going off-message and bringing up all sorts of things, this has to be tightly focused
- I am not going to have our dirty laundry aired in public. We will just spread the bad news around and demotivate everyone
- Each stakeholder group has its own agenda and it is unlikely they can be united behind any common purpose. Self interest will always outweigh what is important for the organisation; this will be a waste of time and money
- The more people you take off the shop floor and involve in meetings the more productivity will suffer. We have targets to hit and customers to look after and there is no slack in the people numbers to cope with that
- The best and most effective changes are the ones designed by a few talented individuals at the top of their profession. Involving people without any formal training and experience of large scale change is just asking for more problems
Recognize any from your experience? What other excuses, myths or barriers have you come across?