12th April 2019
Our MD Charlie Hepburn talks engaging your people through change at your next conference
The scenario, your business has been going through a period of change. There have been comings and goings of unknown consultants, the executive team has changed, some of the regular faces have departed, the vision of the firm has pivoted and it looks like your role might now be different. A feeling of uncertainty and trepidation is beginning to cast a long shadows across the open plan floors of your office. People huddle around water coolers, hushed whispers in the kitchen and tears in the toilets all add to the atmosphere of uncertainty and ambiguity.
The time comes for the formal announcement and the firm is to have a leadership conference, during which all will be explained. There is a sense of relief and ‘thank goodness’ along with excitement that a better understanding of the future is on the horizon. Hopeful anticipation awaits to reconnect with the original reasons for joining the business mixed with optimism for a new sense of direction and purpose.
The day of the conference arrives; the excitement of seeing distant colleagues; meeting new faces and the expectation of coming away with a clear image of the path ahead. The day begins – the CEO with his vision, the CCO with his figures, the HR team with their plans for addressing diversity and inclusion and so it goes on – broadcast after broadcast. The energy in the room is dropping but still the broadcasts come; the marketing team talk about new brand values, the IT heads talk about data security…and so it goes on. By the end of the day you are a shell of your former self. Ok, you have an understanding the new business purpose but have you been engaged with it and will you been able to have your say? You leave disillusioned. Sound familiar?
These types of events should be more about addressing the transition and transformation rather than straight talking leadership. A recent survey indicated that 82% of delegates don’t engage with conference content – a huge proportion of the audience not absorbing the content, not to mention the waste of time, effort and financial cost to the business. Talented people are smart and better informed, they expect more, they want to fix things that don’t work and they have minds to be spoken; so why aren’t more companies tapping into this?
In today’s world businesses are struggling to define themselves and keep up with their increasingly agile customers and demanding employees. Dr Brian Kropp, HR practice leader at Gartner states “In 2009, just over 80percent of organisations were going through some sort of major change, such as mergers and acquisitions or senior leader transition.” By the time 2019 is done, this figure will be closer to 99percent of companies.
The pace of change is faster than ever, but as I keep explaining, this is a fact that dominates everyone’s business today. Companies need to find a balance between organisational purpose that comes from the top and the ‘grass routes’ that connects them to the ground. This is why we have been using formats that deliver 'debate' and 'exchange' in order to unleash the talent in the room. Audiences feel that they are being taken seriously and are of value when given an opportunity to connect and input. By contributing to the solution, employees are far more likely to take ownership, accountability and responsibility to work as a team to push projects through.
As a bi-product, this format also proves a great way to identify the more active talent – the positive ones who are capable of shaping the future.
Our case study Business transformation on a global scale demonstrates how this client actively involved their people for noticeable results.