All organizations experience change. Whether it’s a new project, a shift in leadership, updated policies and procedures, or system upgrades, it is important to understand the impacts of change, especially when it comes to stakeholders.
A stakeholder can be an individual or group that is impacted by a change. Stakeholders are concerned with or affected by the outcome, and can be within or outside the organization. Stakeholder attitudes and behavior have the potential to affect the success of change implementation, and anticipating stakeholder impacts is a critical step in preparing for both the benefits and the potential costs of a change. These five key considerations can help ensure comprehensive stakeholder involvement.
When is the best time to identify stakeholders? Yesterday. The sooner you involve key voices in the implementation of change, the more buy-in, understanding, and critical feedback you’ll receive. Work with project or organization leadership to identify people or groups that might have a beneficial perspective and create a strategy to include them in change-based decision making. It is important to encourage inclusion at all role levels. If they are affected by the change, their voice should be heard.
Formalize a plan for the roll out of all your stakeholder communication. Recognize what parties will be notified of any changes, how they will be updated and identify the purpose of their inclusion in the communication plan. Be sure to document any details relating to their needs or concerns. This allows for transparency between parties and facilitates follow-up to ensure those needs and concerns have been addressed. Stakeholder communication can be a key indicator of change implementation success, so having this in writing will benefit any project in the long run.
Change management often involves identifying misinformation and keeping communication lines open with all stakeholders. While team members close to a project may have accurate insight into its progress, those on the perimeter or those only involved for a limited time may hear things that challenge the realities of the project. Dispelling rumors, both positive and negative, is key. Gossip about project specifics can influence buy-in from the executive level down to the team member level and can be toxic to the success of an implemented change.
It is crucial to provide anticipated and regular status reports for all your stakeholders. Stakeholders should feel informed on all change impacts and feel welcome to contribute insights and feedback. Stakeholder responses to status updates can be some of the most helpful content you’ll receive on change implementation projects because it is timely and laser-focused on the most immediate changes. Make sure to tailor your status reports to the audience; team members may be more interested in the day-to-day impacts while leadership may have more insight on overarching project strategy.
Creating a stakeholder involvement process is a good step, but it is just as important to ensure that change managers and stakeholders stick to the process. When working through a communication plan with stakeholders, identify the review process, including time constraints and dependent parties, so that the process is transparent and expectations are uniform. Requests for feedback will give your stakeholders a voice and help keep everyone on the same page.
P&N has a change management team to help you navigate new situations within your organization. Contact us today to start a conversation about your next steps.