7.2 Stakeholder acceptance
Stakeholders’ resistance to change creates a powerful headwind against your organisational objectives being met and can even cause an initiative to stall. The power of aligning personal, team, and function ‘Whys’ to the organisation’s ‘Why’ to deliver the desired outcomes is an is essential part of the strategy, as commitment is developed and individuals, teams and functions come together to get things done.
As you clarify options and present these to stakeholders, you require an understanding of who your stakeholders are and their interests. This will help you envisage how they are likely to be impacted by the initiative and how they are likely to react to the announcement of the new organisational vision.
Acceptance comes when stakeholders understand why the change is required and this has to be backed up with evidence that demonstrates, not only the need but also supports the approach you are taking.
Of course, feedback and input into the change is key – inclusion over infliction is preferred, and there may be many aspects of the current modus operandi that work and should be continued or integrated with the new way forward. Often, only those close to this can see how best this can be done – observe, question, listen and adapt with this fresh thinking.
The threat of change introduces opportunities, but it can also introduce fears for those affected that can manifest in defensive behaviour, insecurity, and resistance which has to be addressed quickly, honestly and with empathy. If there are any consequences of the initiative that some stakeholders may be considered ‘bad’, it should not be hidden from them – clarity is key at every stage.
The time it may take to realise benefit from the change following implementation, and it being smoothly embedded, may be longer than stakeholders envisage. Therefore, it is important to be realistic with this, and plan for and communicate the potential impact, and what can be expected during the transition.
On a positive note, some things can just be done with no high-level approval as things can just get done because a team moves it forward due to an immediate need. Shine a light on these initiatives as examples of the power of empowered autonomous action at a local level.