Engagement over communication: Addressing the reluctance to change. - Integral

Engagement over communication: Addressing the reluctance to change.

May 19, 2022
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Organisations are in essence their people. Consequently, when the organisation takes on change but their people don’t, there is a clear juxtaposition. Most of us have had experience with change becoming harder to implement because of a lack of adoption.  This reluctance to get on board or stay on board can come from a range of places.

In an ideal world, the buy-in at all levels would be an outcome of the initial engagement and planning.  But if this hasn’t been the case, and the absence of take-up is stalling the  implementation, there are some strategies to bring things back to centre.

Revisit and revise

A good first step is to revisit the plan and revise those areas that may have missed key objectives.  There’s no loss or waste in looping back to an earlier phase of a change plan – especially if  gaps and oversights can be addressed and overcome.  This doesn’t mean a complete rewrite of the original plan. But it does mean conducting a retrospective to help identify areas for improvement.

Ask yourself:

  • Were all stakeholders engaged?
  • Was the end goal clear?
  • Was there a ‘why’ to the change that resonated at all levels?

If there’s clear misalignment from people to the objective of the change, it’s important to understand their reasons. The Five Why’s is an effective framework that can help with this kind of reflection.

Additionally, simply listening can be very powerful. It builds something critical in a transformation program – engagement. The simple act alone, of a senior executive listening to people, can effectively turn the tide and is one of the most powerful engagement tools available to transformation programs.

Creative engagement and building trust

If you were to look at your change plan and run a find/replace on the word ‘communication’, replacing it with ‘engagement’ – think about how that would alter your approach.  For example, ‘communication plan’ becomes ‘engagement plan’.  ‘Communication channels’ becomes ‘engagement channels’.  This suddenly provides a shift from tell them to involve them.

Gone are the days that a weekly email newsletter from the CEO is the primary offering. Wall posters, desk merch, opt-in alerts and updates, quickfire surveys, milestone morning teas, direct conversations, virtual workshops – there are so many creative ways to share a message and gauge the reaction.  The vital step here is understanding your people enough to know what will work best for them.

Communication plans are traditionally focussed on delivery of a message. An  engagement plan both delivers the message and listens for the reaction to that message.  This is particularly important when an organisation is shifting the terrain its people stand on.  Feeling involved, valued and part of that shifting terrain is a huge step towards adoption.

The quality of your engagement, together with its continuous nature is what builds the trust. Understanding who needs to be brought into the transformation story is critical to building the quality of your engagement plan and really connecting with your people.

Demonstrate the value

Organisational change impacts every level, and often in very different ways.  An executive may see value in the cost savings associated with a move to the cloud, while a developer sees value in the efficiency gains this offers in deployment of software components.  For these two people, demonstrating the value is very different.  An executive may be happy to see a budget forecast report, while a developer will respond more positively to glowing peer reviews of the cloud offering.

The common thread across these three strategies is identifying who is affected by the change, understanding their needs through engagement, and aligning the message accordingly.

At Integral, we can support you in engaging your entire organisation to embrace change and enable faster, less traumatic transformation. Call us to learn more about how we can help your business overcome the resistance to change through greater engagement.

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Hana Garvey


Having worked on several complex IT projects in the capacity of Business Analyst, her ability to translate technical requirements to business leaders (and vice-versa) is well developed and recognised by peers and leaders. She is comfortable working with a range of stakeholders and works well to deadlines.

Eduardo Sifontes

Principal Consultant

Eduardo is a creative, collaborative, results focused multi-lingual IT and transformation leader with over 30 years’ experience managing successful IT transformation and change initiatives across diverse organisations and industries globally.

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