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Ask Jess: How Do You Get People on Board With a New Process?

ask jess change management Jun 07, 2021

("Ask Jess" is a new monthly column featuring questions from actual clients.) 

Dear Jess,

How do you get people on board with a new process? My team is responsible for the rollout of a learning management system (LMS) that will change how and when the sales team gets trained. We want to make them aware of what’s happening and when, but we can’t get our communications team on board with the plan. They have not supported our internal projects in the past and don’t see the need to start now.  Help!


Stuck at Go


Dear Stuck at Go,

Great job following the A.R.T. framework for individual change. Ensuring the sales team is Aware, Ready and Trained to use the new LMS is critical for successful adoption, ongoing utilization, and achieving the desired improvement – which in your company’s case is a highly trained sales force.

Don’t forget A.R.T. when it comes to your communications team, as they are being asked to change too.

Making them aware of the change in process and why it is happening is the first step. This can include explaining the business rationale for the new LMS, the desired outcomes for the investment, and how change management can support a successful launch. The communications team plays a key role in the process as they manage the channels you want to utilize to share information with the sales team. So, getting them ready and willing to partner with you on your project comes next.

Resistance occurs when people don’t understand what is happening or why, or they haven't yet formed a personal connection to the change. While this type of motivation can be fostered a few ways, the most effective approach (in my opinion) is to put people before the process. For example, what was your relationship with the communications team prior to the project? Have you worked with them in the past? Do you know the team’s critical priorities? Or, did you jump right in with your change strategy, plans, and needs?

Change leaders put people before process by taking the time to build relationships with peers, sponsors, and stakeholders alike. This not only makes for a better work environment; it can accelerate change initiatives in the future because people know you and also know what to expect. The unknown puts people on the path to fear and self-concern, which is something change leaders strive to mitigate.  

Below are a few ideas to help you re-engage:

  • Invite the leader of the communications team to a virtual coffee date or walking meeting outside to learn more about them, their team and priorities. Then, ask for their ideas on how to execute the rollout and be open to alternative paths.  
  • Ask your executive sponsor to host a meeting to discuss the project, reasons and benefits, and how certain teams will be asked to lead critical workstreams (like communications). Lead a self-reflection activity to surface any initial concerns. 
  • Invite key leaders and stakeholders to join regular status updates with your project team; seeing influential names on the invite list can pique curiosity and lead to collaboration. Start each meeting with a "mindful minute" highlighting a person or project milestone achieved. 

Your role as a change leader is to balance strategy, execution, and the employee experience. This applies to the change initiatives, as well as the new approach you’re asking your peers to align with.  Getting people on board with the new way of working will be easier when there's a personal connection. At a minimum you'll be able to avoid unnecessary push-back due to a lack of understanding.  Plus, when you put people before process, not only will your outcomes improve, your fulfillment likely will too. 

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