Change Leadership Involvement Plan
I have been amazed at how many truly important large projects died because leaders took their eyes off the ball. (Or, perhaps they were able to declare victory, but they found that the change went way over budget and time, or the end result was only a shadow of what had been envisioned.)
Three things are needed:
- They need to understand what this change is all about.
- They need to understand what’s at stake.
- They need to trust you and other senior leaders.
But four things get in the way:
Leaders dump instead of delegate.
It makes sense to delegate authority and responsibility. This grows increasingly important as the project moves from planning to implementation. Too often, managers are given assignments and then expected to figure out what the boss wanted. And, except for the obligatory Q&A sessions at the end of presentations, these are often one-way communications. There is no chance for the manager or new project leader to express doubts, talk about budget, staffing, or anything else for that matter.
In my e-book, Leading from the Middle and in my book, Beyond the Wall of Resistance, I include a short outline for a contracting conversation that you should consider using when delegating. Here are the main points.
Common understanding of the outcome. It is important that both of you have the same picture. (Sounds simple, but this is often overlooked.) Try it. Pull someone aside and ask why they are working on a particular task. They should be able to tell you in a way that lets you know that they know exactly where they are headed.
Specific milestones and completion dates. This is a Project Planning 101 conversation, but leaders sometimes forget the basics. Ask the manager or project leader if your expectations make sense. Ask what they might tweak.
Resources. This is a big one and demands that the person reporting you be able to speak candidly to you. Talk about:
- Do you have the people you need to be successful? If not, who do they need? And how many more people?
- Do they have the budget? If not, what would they need?
- Access to other stakeholders. Ask what they need from you with regard to opening doors and arranging meetings.
- Access to you. Ask how much access they need and the form that works best for them. (Since this is a conversation, you don’t need to agree to everything. That’s why is a conversation. You need to come up with a brief set of marching orders that works for both of you.)
- Time. Since they are probably already busy, what impact will this new project have on their schedules. Will something else need to be moved to a back burner until this project is completed.
Anticipate glitches. We don’t like to talk about what can go wrong. Seems unpatriotic or something. But talking about what could happen helps us refine our thinking and our plans.
This is the first in a series of four blog posts on this topic. I welcome your comments.
In the meantime, here are some other posts you might like: