The engagement process is a critical step in the Strategic Change Leadership and Management process. It is also the first step towards taking the vision to the people. I recently developed the Engagement Process Model below to clearly illustrate how the process plays out in detail in practice.
Fig 1: Engagement Process Model
The Engagement process starts with the leader identifying the stakeholders by using the stakeholder map (see figure 2 below). Next, the decisionmakers’ needs, desires and fears are determined, and strategies are developed to obtain their buy-in. The leader then obtains signoff from decision makers clearly agreeing the case for the change. Once this has been achieved, a change steering committee and change team need to be appointed with representatives from the most important stakeholder groups. Change team representatives then determine the needs, desires and fear of their respective stakeholders, check with them if the assumptions made are correct and start building relationships to set up the process for goal setting.
It is useful to realise that the change exists within an environment and is born out of the current reality. This environment consists of people or groups of people who are influencers, leaders or implements or followers who will be involved in the change. The Stakeholder Map helps the change leader identify the key people or groups of people who will have an influence on the change process. The vision should be placed in the centre of a flipchart. All the people or groups of people who could possibly be relevant to the change process should then be listed using normal brainstorming. Here it is important to consider all possible stakeholders. Once this has been done, the half-dozen or so who are especially important should be identified and marked on the map (see below).
Figure 2: Stakeholder Map
The stakeholder map is an essential tool and we never start a change process without identifying the stakeholders. It is critical to consider all stakeholders. Neglected stakeholders could become a real obstacle to the implementation of the change. It is always a good idea to show stakeholders the map and ask them whether they think all stakeholders have been identified. The next step in the process is to stand back and evaluate where the support for the change will come from, the biggest resistance and who the key decision makers are. We like to highlight the resistors in red, the supporters in green and the decision makers in blue. This gives a good overview of where the focus of the engagement needs to be. If the circle consists of a group of people, an additional circle can be drawn to highlight further segmentation of the stakeholder group. For example, if the Executive team is a stakeholder group, a further circle could highlight who the members of the Executive team are and how each of them view the change.