How to Be an Effective Influencer for Change Management Delivery Success
Updated: Aug 27
In today's rapidly evolving world, change is the new black. All organisations must change rapidly to stay competitive and keep up with technological, social and cultural advances. Change management delivery success relies heavily on a particular set of skills (not that set!) to bring about meaningful transformation. In this blog, we will explore best practices to become an influential figure in change management and drive successful outcomes.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Power of Influencer Marketing
Understanding the Role of an Influencer in Change Management
Build Credibility and Trust
Identify and Engaging Stakeholders
Craft Compelling Messages
Leverage Communication Channels
Embrace Authenticity and Transparency
Navigate Resistance and Overcome Challenges
Adopt Continuous Learning and Adaptation
Measure and Evaluate Impact
Introduction: The Power of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has emerged as a powerful tool for brands to connect with their target audience . The principles of influencer marketing can be applied to change management, where the goal is to influence individuals and groups to embrace and adopt organisational change. As I undertake my own foray into the world of digital course development, I can't help but notice how many parallels there are between the art of the digital marketer, and influencing to sell organisational change.
My thoughts have also turned to the role of the influencer on change assignments, as last week I presented to the Project Management Institute (PMI), covering amongst other things, the skills of the influencer to assist sponsors to advocate successfully for change.
Understand the Role of an Influencer in Change Management
An influencer in change management plays a critical role in driving transformational initiatives. They serve as catalysts for change, guiding individuals and teams through the change process and inspiring them to embrace new ways of thinking and working. An effective influencer possesses strong leadership qualities, exceptional communication skills, and a deep understanding of the organisation's vision and goals. Allied to this, they know how to 'read a room' AND a culture, as the timing, tone, delivery medium and messenger, can make so much difference to how the message is heard.
Build Credibility and Trust
To be an effective influencer, it is essential to build credibility and trust among stakeholders. This can be achieved by consistently demonstrating expertise, being reliable and dependable, and delivering on commitments. Actively seeking opportunities to collaborate and contribute to the success of others fosters trust and establishes you as a credible influencer, who is 'there for everyone' - not just yourself!
Identify and Engage Stakeholders uniqueness
Successful change management requires identifying and engaging key stakeholders at various levels of the organisation. By understanding their needs, concerns, and aspirations, you can tailor your messages and strategies to resonate with their interests. In the land of the influencer, the ability to build emotional resonance between the message and the audience's values and aspirations is crucial. Building strong relationships with stakeholders enables you to garner support and drive change across the organisation.
lead with the skills of the coach
A focus of my recent presentation to the Project Management Institute (PMI), was to urge project managers to become more conscious of when you need to lead with the core skills of the project manager, and when you need to lead with the skills of the coach. If you want to be an effective influencer, you must be comfortable with conversations of 'no fixed direction'. By way of contrast, project managers must often lead with closed ended questions, in which they expect a fixed, empirical answer.
By contrast, the influencer uses the skills of the coach. They employ open-ended questions. Questions that don't seek a fixed or conclusive answer. Influencers are all about those exploratory conversations. Influencing conversations are more like a dance, circling around, and in and out, to illicit increased clarity and alignment. These conversations are emergent (like change itself!) rather than fixed and finite. Project Managers, by the very nature of the role, are arguably more accustomed to linear, one-direction conversations, with fixed responses. They are also accustomed to judging and evaluating responses. The skills of the influencer however, align with the core message of my book, 'Change Management that Sticks' that in order to adopt change, people must choose it for themselves. Therefore, the role of the influencing change agent, is to present offers that give others permission to choose change. Good offers don't come with built-in judgement from the provider, about the individual's personal choices!
Here's the slide I used to compare and contrast the usual questioning skills of the project manager, with those of the change influencer.
The influencer must be comfortable with ambiguity, taking the role of Socrates naive enquirer. They must maintain an attitude and posture of curious enquiry, without judgement.
Craft Compelling Messages
Communicating effectively is at the heart of being an influential change management professional. Craft compelling messages that clearly articulate the benefits and purpose of the change initiative and always make them stakeholder group specific. Influencers must be sure-footed when it comes to crafting compelling stories that demonstrate a deep understanding of the unique perspective of EACH stakeholder group. Nuance really counts in influencing skills. Tailor your messages to different audiences and adapt your communication style to resonate with their preferences and motivations.
LeveragE THE RIGHT Communication Channels
In today's digital age, there are numerous communication channels available to reach and engage with stakeholders. Use a mix of channels such as email, social media, intranet platforms, videos, engagement challenges like competitions and scavenger hunts, and face-to-face interactions to maximise the impact of your messages. My advice, choose a few channels, the ones that work best with your audience (doing some testing) and use them extensively. Avoid the temptation to spread the message too thin, across too many channels. Choose the channels that are most effective for your target audience and ensure your messages are consistent across your platforms. Refresh messages often as circumstances change, as a 'stale' message is sure to alienate your audience, as it demonstrates you're not keeping your finger on the pulse.
EmbracE Authenticity and Transparency
Authenticity and transparency are key attributes of influential change management professionals. Be genuine in your interactions, share your personal experiences, and express empathy towards others' concerns. Be consistent between what you say and what you do. Make sure if you say something will happen in a certain way, on a certain date, that it does exactly that. Transparently communicate the rationale behind the change, and address any uncertainties or doubts. Culture is always watching and culture never sleeps. Get consistent runs on the culture scoreboard by being SEEN to consistently say and do what you said you would.
NavigatE Resistance and OvercomE Challenges
Change often encounters reactivity. As an influencer for change management delivery success, it is crucial to anticipate and address these obstacles, but to do it in a positive and inclusive way. Listen actively to concerns, provide support and guidance, and emphasise the benefits of the change. Where genuine issues are raised, own them and address them. Provide practical solutions to objections that model for the audience how seamless and supportive the overall transition to the new change state will be. Help individuals overcome resistance by providing resources, training, and creating a supportive environment that encourages experimentation and learning, and stages the adoption journey appropriately to pace the behavioural adjustment.
AdOPT Continuous Learning and Adaptation
Change is a dynamic process. It is emergent. An effective influencer recognises the importance of continuous learning and adaptation. Stay informed about emerging trends, best practices, and new methodologies in change management. Seek feedback from stakeholders and evaluate the impact of your efforts. Be willing to adjust strategies and approaches based on the evolving needs of the organisation and its people. Make sure any pivot points are clearly sign-posted to change recipients (they will inevitably happen!) and the reasons for the pivot clearly explained.
MeasurE and EvaluatE Impact
To ensure the success of change management initiatives, it is essential to measure and evaluate their impact. Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned with the objectives of the change outcomes and regularly assess progress. Gather feedback from stakeholders and use qualitative and quantitative data to gauge the effectiveness of your influence. Continuously refine your strategies based on insights gained from measurement and evaluation. Organise round-table discussions with the change sponsors to evaluate success and fine-tune the leadership advocacy.
Becoming an effective influencer for change management delivery success requires a combination of leadership, communication skills, and adaptability. In contrast, to the directive style of the manager, or project manager, the attitude and approach of the influencer must be one of blameless enquiry, and gentle encouragement. By building credibility, engaging stakeholders, crafting compelling messages, and embracing authenticity that doesn't shirk the hard stuff, you can drive successful outcomes in change management. Remember to continuously learn, adapt, and measure the impact of your efforts to ensure long-term success.
"The Role of Influencers in Change Management" - CMSWire.com This article explores the application of influencer marketing techniques in change management initiatives. It discusses how influencers can influence behavior, attract followers, and act as change agents. The article emphasizes the importance of strong technical plans, engagement strategies, knowledge, authenticity, and regular communication with the community for successful change management.
"Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy" - Derek Sivers This TED Talk by Derek Sivers introduces the concept of the first follower in initiating change. It illustrates the role of influencers in creating movements and followership. The talk provides valuable insights into how influencers can act as catalysts for change and inspire others to join in. I have used this video a number of times in learning experiences - it's great!
"The Power of Influence: How Social Media Influencers Are Shaping Brand Marketing" - Forbes This Forbes article discusses the impact of social media influencers on brand marketing. While focusing on marketing, it offers insights into how influencers can effectively influence and engage their followers. These insights can be applied to change management initiatives to create a similar impact.
"Change Management Best Practices" - Prosci's website offers a collection of change management best practices. While not directly focusing on influencers, it provides practical insights and strategies for effective change management. Combining these best practices with influencer techniques can enhance the success of change initiatives.
The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini, Harper Business; Revised edition (December 26, 2006)
Barb Grant, the author, is a master change practitioner, who mentors change managers and change agents to deliver change that gets adopted and delivers meaningful results. She is the Director of Encompass Consulting, 'Bold Change' and CM2 change mentoring and author of the #1 Amazon bestselling book for change agents, 'Change Management that Sticks.' Barb is a frequent speaker on topics related to change management and the successful leadership of change.
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If you have a change leader, change agent, or change management practice that needs mentoring please use the contact form below or email Barb direct at email@example.com for a free no-obligation chat about your requirement.