Building Stakeholder Readiness for Change

Aug 01, 2010 4 Comments by

No one is more important when it comes to successful change than the people impacted by it – not the Boss, not the Change Agents and certainly not the Change Consultants. (…even though at various times during a change initiative each of these folks may act as if they are the key to the whole thing…)

I consider the first rule of stakeholder success to be:

“No metric of change matters more than the readiness of stakeholders  to do their work in the new way on Day-1.”

To that end, I will spend a few posts over the next few weeks offering tips on how you can make this happen with your change.  The first part of this process is to find the people impacted by your change.  Most Organizational Change Management (OCM) folks call these people “stakeholders” because they have a stake in how things work out.  Before I address this first bit of work, here is a summary of the 5 steps I follow to help build stakeholder confidence and Day-1 Readiness:

theBigRocks of Change Process for Building Stakeholder Readiness

Let’s start with Step-1: Find the people impacted by the change.

Internal Stakeholders: Start by considering who within your organization is impacted by the change.  These Internal Stakeholders may be impacted in a number of ways such as:

  • Process changes – changes in the way work is done or the order of steps in the workflow
  • Technology changes such as new systems, new software or new systems security procedures
  • Adjustments to policy or regulations
  • Changing roles – new roles or new tasks being added to existing roles
  • Combining jobs or splitting out the work that was once done by one person into several roles.
  • Shifting reporting lines or communications channels
  • Adding oversight or relaxing the rules – this can have a surprising impact on an employee’s perception of being trusted or being recognized for their skills.
  • Verify the list. Depending on the nature of your change and the unique business you are in, there may be other factors that will determine what preparation is needed – show you initial list of stakeholders to the executive team and the project team and ask if you missed anyone.

One rule of thumb that I use when hunting for internal stakeholders is to start with the entire organization chart and ask myself and others to prove that the person or group of people is NOT impacted by the change.  It may seem like overkill to some, but this approach has proven to greatly reduce our risk of missing people.

Remember to check that Stakeholder List – at least twice…

External Stakeholders: As for external stakeholders, use the same list as above, but also consider unique factors such as:

  • Suppliers and customers that may be impacted by changes to the inputs or outputs of your internal processes.
  • Changes in timing or order of process steps that involve external partners
  • Changes to data and integration points with external technical systems
  • Changes in expectations for service, delivery or quality in both directions

One final note on identifying stakeholders: It’s very likely that your initial list of internal and external stakeholders will change, so be ready to add to the list (or cut from it) and re-run the entire stakeholder preparation process for those discovered later in the project.

In the next step of building readiness we’ll discuss what needs to be done to start preparing these stakeholders for the change.

Questions for Chatter:

  1. Have you been impacted by a change where key individuals or entire groups of impacted stakeholders were left out of the loop?
  2. What happened when the organization first caught on that these people needed help?
  3. What have you experienced that is missing from this list?

Incoming search terms:

  • stakeholder readiness

Change Agent Skills, Change Communication, Change Execution, Stakeholder Readiness

About the author

I help people and teams succeed with big changes... never a dull moment!

4 Responses to “Building Stakeholder Readiness for Change”

  1. Finding Resistance to Change says:

    […] You Gotta Find ‘Em: In an earlier article, I’ve addressed the process of locating your stakeholders.  The methods I’ve described […]

  2. No Plan, Epic Fail | theBigRocks of Change says:

    […] this change as a threat to the status quo? What resistance might you face? See my earlier posts on uncovering stakeholders and change impacts for more […]

  3. Change Success Factor Alignment says:

    […] Who: Identify the internal and external stakeholders most impacted by the change. See last month’s article on this topic: 5 Steps to Building Readiness: Identifying Stakeholders […]

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