A few weeks ago I began walking through the five important steps for leading change. Here are the five we are walking through (click the links to see the previous posts):
This second step to ‘Listen’ is generally the step that most people skip-over and ignore. Consequently, so many lead good, valuable, potentially beneficial change, but it’s met with resistance, backlash and sometimes fails to be implemented. Some of that resistance (not all) can be avoided by not just identifying the vision behind the change and the stakeholders most affected, but by also taking the time to listen to what those stakeholders think or feel about the potential change.
When speaking with or communicating with those stakeholders, clearly communicate the what (the change that could be happening) and the why (the vision behind it) with the key stakeholders/users. When communicating hold the desired change loosely. Remember, these are the people that will be most affected, and consequently become the highest priority. Here’s a short side note on this: Depending on the impact of change to a stakeholder/user, the closer they are or more affected by the change, the better it is to talk in person.
Once these items are communicated, then sit back and listen to what they have to say. When listening, it is important to focus on:
Their concerns with the change.
Possible blind spots you have missed.
How this change affects their values, goals and processes.
Keep good records of all the beneficial feedback you receive during this stage because it could become incredibly beneficial in the next step of ‘Adjusting.’
One final thing I want to mention. Change by it’s definition means that you’re looking to implement something different than what is. That means that your key stakeholders may not be fully on board with what you’re looking to change. Recognize the difference between listening and agreeing. Listening to feedback does not mean you will agree with or move forward with every suggestion or ounce of feedback you receive. Filter all that you hear from stakeholders through the grid of your ultimate vision.