Engagement in change is a good thing. It will improve the chances of successful change and support its smooth implementation. So why can you have too much of a good thing?
We all know the huge benefits of engagement, they include:
Engagement of those with expertise, experience and knowledge, increases the quality of the design and the likelihood of an effective change
Stakeholders are often likely to identify impacts of change missed by the project team and you can either make design adjustments to remove/minimise these impacts or make preparations to manage these impacts
Good engagement will speed people’s movement through the change curve - which I have written more about
But we also have to remember that engagement:
Involves time so more engagement will slow the speed of change. This could be detrimental to the organisation, to individuals who want a decision to be made, and those people who will benefit from this change.
It takes extra capacity to be involved. Stakeholders already have busy jobs and this is an extra ask, so you are asking them to not to do something else by being involved. What will add the greatest value to the organisation?
Where individual roles might be impacted you need to consider confidentially and appropriateness of sharing information with stakeholders outside any formal consultation
We therefore need to strike a balance between these and decide on the most effective type and level of engagement for each change. This is one of the skills of change managers to judge what is appropriate in each change. Every situation is different, but there are a number of factors I consider when making this decision. Some factors include:
The risk associated with the change – higher risk change benefits from higher levels of engagement as this increases the chance of successful change
The urgency of the change – urgent change will mean less engagement is possible
Organisational culture – what are the expectations of engagement in change
There is always a balance to be reached. When you have assessed the appropriate level and type of engagement the important thing is to then manage stakeholder expectations in the level of engagement that will take place. This then relies on another change management skill - good communication and openness about this decision and the reasons behind them.