Revered not feared: From change police to trusted change partner

change management stakeholder engagement trust May 05, 2024
Lata in a white top smiling; text: from change police to trusted partner

When you’re working in a Change team or as a sole practitioner, people in the project or business may not have the best perception or image of you. They may have worked with Change Managers in the past who just point out all the impacts and risks and then - mic drop, walk out the door - instead of actually doing things that add a lot of value. Or Changies that follow a more traditional way of doing change, come with this massive approach and documentation that feel so overwhelming to the project or business and isn’t the best use of time at that moment. Or maybe they haven’t ever worked with Change professionals at all before. They may feel you’re just going to judge or scrutinise them, rap their knuckles if they do the wrong thing, or worse: step on their toes and take their job. It’s important to change this perception of Change and rather than being feared as “change police”, position yourself to be revered as a “trusted change partner” (top tip: this is also true of internal Business As Usual (BAU) teams like Risk & Compliance or Legal who can be seen as the “police”). 


Here’s how:


Rebrand your team

When you are branding yourself, you want to be the team that people know what they do, when to call on them, and that you are here to help. So you need to reframe and use more positive language. It doesn't mean that you have to rename the team. Instead, you can do Vision Setting and Benefits Mapping for your team (whether that's your Change team or BAU team), which I teach in my Leading Successful Change program. Use some of the language and experience that comes out of it to build a brand for your team. Then launch that brand to the business with a playbook, or a go on a PR tour with a mini briefing to other teams in the business, letting them know: 

  • This is who we are
  • This is what we do
  • Here’s the value we bring
  • These are the services that we can provide
  • This is the capacity and capability of our team
  • And, here's the process of how you can get in touch with us and work with us. 



Quick wins

How can you jump in and help a team on one of their major issues, add value really quickly and then be like, “Here's the breadth of what we can do and here's what we are here to help with.”? Often, a lot of the business just isn't aware that you even exist. The fastest and easiest way to get people on side is to help them as quickly as possible. You don't need to give them the full scope of the change - that can actually be too overwhelming. Once you get a foot in the door and they see what you can do in the value that you can bring, they're more open to then having you do more from a Change perspective.


Testimonials and case studies

When taking a PR marketing approach, if you've got any testimonials or case studies or other business teams who you've already helped, get them to share the experience they had working with you and the value they got and pop it in the playbook or bring them on your PR tour with you.


Shift the messaging from “monitoring” to “helping”

You need to shift the energy of how you approach the business and that will start to shift how the business thinks of you. Using the Benefits Mapping process I teach can help you find the best positive language terms to use for your team, and using “helping” language and “fit-for-purpose” language can be really key here. You might like to hold off on sharing what you do specifically and instead ask how you can help. So sometimes I'll say, “Have you worked with a Change Manager before? What was your experience?” And then I might share, “Oh okay, well this is the approach that I like to take. Where would you like the most help? Is there anything that you are struggling with at the moment?” That’s one of the best things about LSC - once you’ve learned all the tools, templates and techniques you can confidently select what you think will add the most value to build trust with the project or business and get your foot in the door. You can always go back and do some of those foundational things, like Vision Setting and Impact Assessment. Fit-for-purpose change means you don't have to start there.


Alleviate role fears

Many teams will think you’re there to take their role or rain on their parade, which couldn’t be further from the truth. So you can always share upfront to combat this. I've openly said to people, “After I've worked on this change, I'll be moving on. How can I add as much value and help you as much as possible while I'm here? How would you to me to work with you? What support would you like?” And put the ball over in their court. With Internal Communications teams, you can be like, “Oh, I'm just here to help you. You can write all the comms (aside: please be my guest haha), and I can help you identify who needs to be communicated to.” 

I really think as Change Managers, our role is to make ourselves redundant. We're here to empower the project and business so we don't need to be here anymore to support them. And you know you've done a good job when they don't need you anymore. That’s what being a trusted change partner truly is.



If you'd like to learn more about becoming a trusted change advisor with influence and impact, come along to my free Change Advisor Bootcamp. It’s on Wednesday 22 May and I’ll be sharing my expert consulting secrets to get a seat at the table, build strong relationships, and lead complex change to success.


CLICK HERE to register for my free Change Advisor Bootcamp


Lata xx


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