Our last few posts have introduced you to critical stakeholders; groups of people who, depending on their preparedness for the upcoming change, can make or break your best laid plans. We’ve blogged about Advisors (the leaders who shape the program) and Champions (respected employees who are the natural mouthpieces of the program).

This time, we present Implementers – the folks (typically members of the project team) who are responsible for operationalizing those changes and making sure the new way of doing things sticks. Reaching them is often easier because implementing the change is a key part of their job; they are most often subject matter experts in the technical piece of the change and/or the project team members who’ve been with you from the start. To best motivate this group, let them know you need their expertise to shape the roll-out plan. Most people love to have their knowledge recognized and used. Also, ensure they are well versed in the business case behind the change; you want them to be communicating about the benefits and the plan for change with confidence and pride in the program and not with an apologetic or remorseful tone.
Here are some additional tips for working with Implementers:

  • Provide tools such as decks with talking points and notes, training, FAQs and tip cards that highlight changes and required actions.
  • Provide a forum for Implementers to air their feelings and potential frustrations in dealing with Impacted Groups. One project team we knew offered “office hours,” a series of open conference calls that Implementers could join so they could get questions answered and vent about (sometimes wacky) user complaints, laugh about it, and settle back into their role as helpers.

Letting Implementers vent their frustrations and surface their concerns is critical to the success of the project. Ironically, we often find that the strongest resistance to change can come from the project team themselves. If they don’t feel confident that they are implementing the right solution, many will get cold feet and might even try and separate themselves from the change. Yet, despite their importance to the success of the initiative, implementers are the most overlooked audience in a most change efforts.
Rule of thumb: Keep your Implementers in the loop so they are ready to tell the impacted employees what they need to know and how they can help support them. Your Implementers don’t just need to be prepared—they need to be SUPER prepared.

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