When you are kicking off a new change initiative, the highest leverage activity bar none is face-to-face engagement with your key opinion leaders. Don’t make the mistake of writing emails, designing brochures, putting together PowerPoints and sending them out into the change-o-sphere unescorted. Change is interactive. Here are the four steps to master:
1. Create enticing events that bring people together to discuss what you are up to. Don’t show up to tell them. Don’t broadcast. Involve them. Ask them. Engage them.
2. Be a good teacher. This means you do these things extremely well:
*Connect with the audience. Become adept at listening and learning. Talk only about what your audience cares about. Everything else… they don’t care about.
*Honor political realities. Know when to speak, when to shut up, when to defer, and what to do to ensure you are not blacklisted because of a political faux pas.
*Tell great stories. People are not won over with facts or functionality. They are won by desire. Good storytellers make people want to know more. Facts and function follow, carried along in the current of desire.
*Push back on substance when needed. Know your program. If a listener gets it wrong, correct them…tactfully and graciously, of course.
At the center of every extraordinary, exceptional face-to-face event is a great teacher. Teachers know how to listen. They are great storytellers. They know how to draw people out. They know how to draw people in.
3. Learn from your partners. Take what you learn from these worthwhile interactions and use it to improve your plans and actions. Every good change team lives in continuous, rapid improvement. Lessons from the front are required. If you’re not learning, nothing is changing.
4. Grow your relationships. Go back to the people you just spoke with and let them know their contribution matters. Show them how you changed as a result of their invaluable feedback. Do this fast. Have another conversation with them. They’re on your side now. Grow that relationship.
There you have it:
1. Create enticing events that bring people together.
2. Be a great teacher.
3. Learn from your partners.
4. Grow your relationships.