Even though YOU may be enthusiastic about communicating a forthcoming change, you have to consider the possible reactions from your staff. I'm talking about the all-important kick off meeting. Your primary objective is to unite the key people with a common goal making this latest change a success. To think of it another way you are actually creating a new team, that will write a piece of history that will form part of the journey of your organization. This is what you have to announce! People first.
If you want some inspiration you can watch this short video clip taken from The Avengers
“…there was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so what we needed them.. they could fight the battles that we never could” - What better way to introduce the kick off meeting with this purposes!!!
What are the common pitfalls? No engagement, poor agenda, missing perks
If you fail to fully engage the Kick-off team and do not directly involve the participants, it is easy for them to fall into the trap of critical listening instead of treating it as an opportunity to contribute and make a difference.
Some common reactions?
1. It’s him to run the meeting, so he'll be talking and who knows what will be discussed?! – Doubtful and Detached
2. We will be probably invited to respond to some request, at this point I will let others to talk.. - Timorous
3. I will contact everybody beforehand, maybe they know the real reason for this meeting.. just to prepare myself. This way we can arm ourselves with the appropriate information and can agree on what we are going to say keeping us in our comfort zone. - Machiavellian
4. I actually have another commitment that I think is more important, I will advise that I cannot attend. – Disengaged
You need to encourage team building and increase the active and positive participation. Where to start?
1. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting and what you want to achieve.
2.Apply a detailed agenda which also highlights the strengths of each participant that will be crucial in achieving each goal.
3. Contact each of the participants individually before holding the meeting and explain your reasons for their inclusion within the project and gain their support on the agenda.
4. Clearly describe what you expect from him/ her.
5. nvite them to participate in the meeting and to focus on a particular critical element and share the positive implications of this initiative during the kick-off meeting.
6. Finally let them know how much you vaue their participation.
In this way everyone will be able to immediately recognize his/her potential work within the project/ initiative/ process and they will be pleasantly surprised to seetheir abilities recognized.
This approach allows the participant to feel personally called upon within the meeting, by letting him/her share their thoughts. It will take time to build a cohesive team, trust needs to be earned but what better occasion to start with than the kick off meeting?
What’s the agenda?
Now that you have introduced the nature of the meeting to each participant, do not be afraid to go into details. But please, keep it simple and remember that the first slide will present the super hero profile of the participants because this is the goal. Creating the A Team.
Never send a meeting request without stating the points in the agenda, it raises a lot of doubts. Give the “rising Team” a chance to explore the agenda before the meeting
What’s in for me?
This is another fair question which participants often want to address. You may not know what the trigger is that will excite your stakeholder so base your perks list on the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Start with one self-actualization aspect which may be a direct consequence of taking part in the project and proceed by following through the list (esteem, love-belonging, safety and physiological). Listen carefully to their reaction, take on board their body language and respond accordingly.
Resistance to change
The above steps will topple the barriers that naturally rise to resist to the change. However, if this is not enough, you may find that after having formally announced the change there is a common denial reaction see the above infographic for a list of do’s and don’ts.
Bringing all together
Engage participants before holding the meeting, let them know why they have been chosen ask them to actively participate by sharing past experiences and by highlight constructively any specific issues which may undermine the project success. Be clear with the agenda items and when you want to be heard, put yourself first in active listening. This will save time, energy and motivate the team.