Engagement is the lubricant to effective change management efforts.
Once the solution has been identified and a plan has been set in place, the question now is how to implement the plan and ensure that all the stakeholders are in the same page and would be able to support it.
The engagement process is very similar to many change management process in many organizations, be it in the public and the private sector.
It starts with understanding and knowing who are the authorities who need the approval of these mechanisms so that it is set for adoption throughout the organization.
Who needs to lead, articulate, and champion this at the public level? They hold the accountability role. It is with them that the buck stops, so to speak.
The second tier of engagement in the organization is the middle management and the staff. They need to be on board in the whole process.
At the implementation stage, they need to fully agree and provide the best support or facility to ensure its successful implementation.
The third tier of engagement is the public.
It could be your shareholders, stakeholders, volunteers, constituencies, customers/clients, and other important public entities that have a clear stake in the process.
They should be engaged throughout the process but in implementation, they should have a clear role to play - to be involved, to support, to be informed/updated on the progress, etc. They hold the keys to wider support from the communities they represent, can speak on behalf of your organization, and can oftentimes, clear the cobwebs of doubt, negativity, and pessimism about the changes that are being espoused.
The engagement process can be a long process for very complex projects and initiatives involving multi-stakeholders with varying degrees of involvement and agenda/interests.
It could involve a considerable amount of staff time, financial resources, and even public media campaign to solidify the changes in the minds of its target audience. It cannot be rushed though.
Taking the time to really get down to the target audience and create trusting and open dialogue bridges an otherwise hostile and indifferent crowd.
The key is to create the environment where people can trust the changes are for the better, that it welcomes their inputs and participation, and encourages healthy debate and discourse.
Between planning and implementation, the engagement is a must and cannot be taken out from shortcut purpose.
When this is done carefully and wisely, the long-term benefits outweigh the initial short-term growing pains.
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