Some of you may have heard this story from me before, especially if you’ve attended one of my roles and responsibilities webinars. There was a case, once in my career, where I made a boo-boo. I missed a step in the pro
cess, which turned out to be quite an important step in the process, it turns out.
We were working on a change program. People’s lives were being impacted. Their jobs were changing, so obviously something you want to treat very carefully.
We were working closely with the managers of those people whose jobs were changing to make sure that we approached the people appropriately, carefully, with empathy, and they fullyunderstood what was going on. We worked with the senior managers so that they knew what, when, and why to communicate to their people.
They all sat around the table and agreed that they were going to do what we had instructed. We gave them a run sheet that was down to the minute that they were going to follow.
So we had provided them with the messages and theactual communications. They agreed to it. We thought everything was going fantastically. We had done everything that we thought needed to be done.
The next step, after the mangers had completed their instructions so that their teams understood what was happening was that we, the project team, were going to contact the people in their team. We were going to ask them to start doing tasks for us and for some of them, it was going to result in a lot of work.It was going to have a potentially high impact on their time. Plus, they also had the added stress of the fact that at the end of the project, their jobs were going to be different or not exist anymore.
When we started contacting teams, we had great response. Everyone was very supportive, responsive, and was happy to help, except for one team. They had no idea who we were or what we were talking about.
Turns out, all the managers did what they had to do, except for one. This manager didn’t follow the run sheet. They didn’t tell their team what was happening. They didn’t seem to think it was important. Seems they were wrong, it was pretty important.
As a result, all these people were very upset. They started spreading rumors about assumptions they started to make because they didn’t have all the information. All of a sudden, all the good work we and the other managers had done was potentially undone. The people who felt comfortable before now had the possibility of becoming uncomfortable because of what these other people were saying. We had to go around and, basically, make sure Everyone felt okay.
The people who had already been told by their managers what was happening had to be spoken to again to reiterate the positive messages that had been given. The people whohad not been spoken to had to be spoken to and told what was going on with some extra comforting. In some cases this even required a one on one conversation to help alleviate concerns.
So what was the one step we should have done to avoid the chaos?
Get proof from every one of the managers that they had done what they promised to do. It was all well and good for them to sit there and agree that they would and should do what was needed. We should have got proof that they actually followed through on the promise.
You can get proof in numerous ways. Ask for the meeting minutes. Attend the meeting where they tell them. Get CC’d on the email where they send it to their whole team.
Whatever it is, get the proof!
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