Using Involvement Strategies to Build Readiness for Change

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Sep 08, 2016 @ 10:55 AM

There is no doubt building readiness for change takes time, energy, and resources. Ensuring you have the four factors of Sponsorship, Cultural Fit, Agent Capacity and Target Readiness allows you to build readiness at speed.  However, in our 30+ years of Change Management industry experience, we’ve witnessed a lot of Involvement Can be Used to Build Readiness for ChangeChange Management Consultants who miss one of the most powerful tools available for building Target readiness: involvement

Giving Targets a sense of control is key if you want your change to be implemented with less resistance, and at speed.  When people have input and they get a sense of control over their environment that helps to keep resistance lower and last less time. When used appropriately, involvement can help to build commitment to the change, surface resistance, and actually produce better solutions for your strategic investments. 

Involvement Builds Commitment

There are so many benefits to using involvement, yet it is often overlooked as an explicit strategy.  Here are some of the reasons why it is worthwhile to spend the time to use involvement, despite the fact that implementation may take longer.  Involvement:

  • Gives you the ability to gather ongoing data on the sources of resistance as you move through the implementation lifecycle.
  • Increases the likelihood of curbing the levels of resistance when people have input into how the project will be implemented locally.  This is because involvement leads to a sense of control.  The disruption seems to be less when the individual can participate in how the change is deployed.
  • Provides input from varying points of view (aka Frames of Reference), leading to better ideas.
  • Creates ongoing engagement and commitment.

Watch for These Potential Problems

There are so many benefits to getting people involved in how a change will be implemented, but you do need to go in with your eyes wide open!  Like any c
hange management strategy, involvement isn't a "silver bullet."  Here a few tips to follow when using involvement strategies for building change readiness:

  1. Make certain you are very clear that involvement will not alter the decision to move forward on the change. This requires clear communication on expectations and appropriate behavioral reinforcements from Sponsors.

  2. Don’t get people involved if the decisions on how the change will be implemented have already been made.  It’s counter-productive and you’ll just create greater resistance.

  3. Understand that you may not like what people come up with.  That's always a risk! 

  4. Be prepared that it will take more time on the front end to get people involved, but there will be a pay-off at the back end.  It will take longer, and it will require more resources! 

  5. You will need to invest in giving people some skills and knowledge so that they can be prepared to provide you with intelligent involvement!  This may include some training on how to operate as a team.

  6. If you are operating in a risk-averse culture, there are implications for employing involvement strategies.  You may end up with a "compromised" rather than a "synergistic" solution because it is culturally unacceptable to do otherwise.

  7. Some types of change aren’t appropriate for involvement and just need to get done. These may include regulatory and compliance changes. 

Differentiate the “How” from the “What”

Organizations aren’t democracies, and we aren’t advocating that strategic business decisions be put up for a vote of approval!  There is, however, a powerful principle in the AIM methodology which says, “If you can’t get people involved in deciding what to change, get them involved in how to change it.” {Tweet This}

Differentiating the “how” from the “what” is important.  When people are appropriately prepared, they can be involved in defining the problem, developing the solution, designing the change, and either planning or actually implementing the solution.  Through this type of involvement, you increase the Targets’ sense of control over their work, and that’s a stress reducer and a way to lessen resistance.

Of course it’s much faster to bypass getting people involved—or at least it may seem that way. Creating involvement opportunities takes time on the front end of an initiative—it’s an investment of time, but it will pay off later. The benefits might not be immediate, but they can be significant, and will ultimately accelerate behavior change.

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Topics: Change Readiness, Resistance to change