Have you been there? You put together a great plan, communicated to the leadership team and got their buy-in. Then, just when you think you are in for some smooth sailing, a person speaks up about how they feel left out. I remember being in a progress update meeting for a new initiative that, to my knowledge, was going pretty well. The person was expressing feelings of hurt and anger that they had not been consulted or even informed of the impact the changes were making. So much so that they didn’t feel they could support the changes.
What had gone wrong? Where did the project manager miss?
We met for a debrief and reviewed the project notes. Low and behold they had missed a very important facet of managing change…
The Stakeholder Analysis
They did a great job following Kotter’s model by building a “guiding coalition” but had missed this critical step. It is here that the brakes of change are often pressed and the initiative comes to a screeching halt.
Here is what I have learned and applied with the stakeholder analysis. Nothing is guaranteed but getting a grip on this step will help ensure your initiative can proceed through each milestone unimpeded by the “forgotten ones.”
Download a free copy of the Stakeholder Analysis Template and a sample file
List all of the people impacted by the change. Use positions or titles and not names. Don’t worry about their specific roles. Your focus is just to get them on the paper. It is better to have more people and pare it back after the next step.
Impact / Influence Analysis
Here is where you will determine which approach or tactic will be used to keep the list of people in the loop. It is the Impact/Influence Analysis tool. It is very simple.
For each person on the list you will select (for Impact) do they have High, Medium, or Low impact to the initiative based on the criteria in the description. Then in the next column select (for Influence) whether they have High, Medium, or Low influence on the initiative.
The value is not being precise with the measurement but to take each possible stakeholder into consideration to make sure they don’t get left out of the communication plan.
Now work your way across the sheet from left to right:
- List the key concerns of each stakeholder
- Evaluate their current engagement level
- Establish their target engagement level
- Develop an engagement tactic to close the gap between current and target engagement
- Lastly, determine who, on your change team, is going to own managing the stakeholder to ensure the gap is closed
There is no way to guarantee your change proposal won’t result in anyone reacting negatively. Change is hard. There is hope though. Use this tool to mitigate the chances of missing someone. It is just a matter of due diligence. The work put into this step will pay dividends through the rest of the implementations as precious resources won’t need to be allocated to fighting culture fires that could’ve been prevented.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear about how you have engaged people in your change process and what you learned. Please feel free to comment below or drop me an email!