I wrote a post a few days on LinkedIn about the secret to successful change. I wanted to follow that up with what I consider is a sure way to hinder robust change; that of how you engage with your key stakeholders. To be more precise not to confuse effective stakeholder engagement with ‘sucking up’ to a senior director or manager.
Credibility is vital
I’ve seen it many times where an inexperienced change agent attempts to get buy-in by basically agreeing to everything that is said by the director. A recent example of this was with ‘Fred’, where he was responsible for researching a specific technology that would improve customer experience.
If the boss likes me then I’m certain to succeed – but not at the risk of your credibility
Fred was giving an update of his progress to a head of department, who said, ‘I don’t think this will work and I’m not sure I like it?’ Within the blink of an eye Fred responded with ‘Yes, I agree I don’t think it’s that good either’.
Now Fred thought that he was showing effective engagement with the head of department. I’d say that Fred lost credibility backtracking on an activity that he had been working on for a few months and publicly endorsed numerous times.
Be a critical friend
For me, effective engagement is about being a ‘critical friend’ where you can praise good work and also challenge when things aren’t going so well. Sometimes this means asking questions to better understand a certain point of view. Coaching questions used effectively can help to understand what the real issue is at hand and what needs to be done about it.
Just my opinion, I’d welcome your thoughts and comments? What has been your experience?