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Change Management: Enlisting Your Key Influencers

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 7.6.2017

As HR leaders, managing change within an organization is one of the most difficult and critical tasks we face. In fact, the management of change within an organization is often the first critical step in driving new business initiatives, such as entering new markets, acquiring operations and talent, or increasing overall productivity and performance.winter-road-arrow-74780.jpeg

For the HR team, change management means putting the processes and tools in place to transition employees from their “current state” to a “future state” and includes preparing, equipping, and supporting them before, during, and after the transition. The bottom line: organizations change only when their employees do.

Change management invariably begins with a focus on setting the stage or preparing employees for change. This stage includes, among other tasks, securing buy-in from senior leadership and managers throughout the organization. Ultimately, organizational leaders serve as the change agents in your organization and are responsible for acting as the logical extension of your HR team.

One important group to enlist when preparing for change is the group of individual contributors who often have a wide sphere of influence, if not span of control, who may not be obvious on organizational charts. While it can feel risky to extend beyond the traditional hierarchy of the org, we must acknowledge that key influencers are often the unspoken agents of driving (or killing) change.

In HR, we look at the enlistment of non-managerial leaders as a way to leverage a broader team and to prepare, equip, and support employees at all levels throughout the organization. But we need to get much better at identifying these key influencers as well as those within their sphere of influence.

So how do we identify these key influencers?

  1. Review individual contributor roles. Individual contributors do not manage other employees, but are often highly respected because of their domain expertise and/or professional experience.
  2. Ask your management team. Your managers observe the interactions between team members every day and can typically identify these key influencers and the impact they have on other members of the team.
  3. Look among the ranks of your volunteers. Employees that step up to plan events, drive social initiatives, or spearhead tactical programs are often key influencers who drive cross-functional engagement. Other employees may automatically view these employees as trusted leaders.
  4. Pluck leaders from your company’s social scene. Do you have an informal group of dogwalkers or bicyclists that meet on the weekend? Who puts together Friday happy hours? Do you have a company softball team? Chances are you have a group of engaging organizers with persuasive skills who consciously or unconsciously influence others.
  5. Embrace some of those grumpy (if not, disgruntled) employees. They can be challenging to deal with and, depending on the change you’re driving, the change may or may not affect them directly. However, they will have an opinion and a willingness to share it with others. Engage them early, look for a few willing souls, and embrace them. If they’re not helping you, they’ll likely be hurting you—even through their silence.

Once you’ve identified these key influencers, fully incorporate them into your change management strategy. Engage them in the development of your strategy, secure their commitment to be a voice of change, and equip them with the message they need to deliver. Then set them free to drive change in an effective grassroots movement.


Topics: internal communications, employee communication, change management

Human Resources Today