People Initiatives Stakeholder Alignment

Ideas
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October 17, 2022
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6 min
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We believe when planned and executed right, People Initiatives will have an enormous impact on Company Performance. From genesis to results, each successful initiative requires a convergence of leaders from business, technology, and people strategy. 

As people initiatives are designed, these key stakeholders must first align on which measurable business outcomes should be impacted by the initiative. 

Below is a scenario you can use as a roadmap for creating stakeholder alignment. 

You are a champion for change. Your role is in Change Management, L&D, Innovation, or HR. Perhaps, you are a progressive operations leader with a business challenge and a desire to activate and sustain change.

As you review the tools and resources at your disposal in the context of their historic impact while evaluating the needs of the business in the context of the current employee levels of engagement (or shall we say disengagement), you are concerned. Even, justifiably, a bit alarmed. 

Here are some steps to follow in order to bring the right stakeholders together 

1. Start at the Source

Historically, people initiatives were seen as peripheral to business goals.  Now, L&D & Change Management functions are considered “business partners”.  For global companies, these departments are centralized and budgeted as a resource for the entire organization. 

Creating change at scale can’t be a “check the box” activity. Workshops can be inspiring but can’t sustain change.

Full alignment on an initiative’s goals and metrics is required to unify the business and drive change efforts. It is worth mentioning that the team should identify a metric of success for the business. Metrics should be lagging or outcome metrics that can be associated with an ROI. Although informative, successes should not be based on leading indicators of success, such as engagement with the initiative (e.g., how many attended a training session).

Action: Find a business need that is executive facing.  It could be the CEO or division leader as your sponsor.  The right need will have a clear metric that is tracked live or reported with a monthly cadence (at most).  

We can’t improve what we can’t measure.  

People Initiatives Stakeholder Alignment

Finding a business need with a clear metric is not always easy, in fact, that assumes your role has a seat at the executive table. Or, at least, you can request an audience.

Next, ensure that the business needs you select can be improved by people. The vast majority of business goals are enabled by people.

2. Find a Business Sponsor

Unfortunately, not every business leader believes that people initiatives drive business performance. All will agree with the sentiment, but often, there is a very real divergence in action.  An ideal sponsor is likely to have at least one of the following:

  1. Personally, they have been on the personal growth journey and understand its value to the organization.
  2. They have been verbal about the desire to find a way to improve certain behaviors they know will improve business goals.
  3. When they say “people are our business”, they mean it and they continue to reiterate with their team.

Ideally, the business sponsor would lead a team of 250-2k to offer an audience size that will justify the investment.

3. Evaluate the stakeholder landscape

Once you have the business executive sponsor & the business need with a metric, map all who are involved, we suggest working with RACI model:

  1. R = Responsible = The person on the business side who will perform the work involved in the people initiative. This will be a close partner with all of the efforts, you, the Champion will be leading.
  2. A = Accountable = The person ultimately accountable for the decisions to be made.  Likely, this is your executive sponsor. 
  3. C = Consulted = Anyone in the organization with influence on the selected business goal & metric.  This can be tricky.  Error on the side of inclusion.  Don’t make any assumptions. Considering you are now in the business goal world, there may be many efforts under way to create change. The Champion’s job is to find them all and unify them.
  4. I = Informed = Anyone who must be informed when a decision is made or work is completed. This can include others in the organization observing this initiative with impact on their worlds based on the outcome.

4. Build alliances early

Approach relevant stakeholders early.  Everyone is permanently in the “not another initiative” mindset.  They will be overwhelmed and in some cases, fatigued from failed attempts to create change in the past. 

Engage with these stakeholders early to gain their buy-in and perspective prior to formulating the action plan.  Co-authorship leads to co-ownership.

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Remember, this is no longer tangential to business needs. You are championing initiatives that will have an impact on the organization.  As a result, there will be personal wins, so it is important to foster a mindset that anticipates success.  Whether we like it or not, executives remember and create opportunities for those who create measurable value for the organization. 

5. Technology stakeholders are foundational

People Initiatives Stakeholder Alignment

Get their buy-in.  Find a technology champion.  Don’t constrain your conversation with them to “we need X, Y, Z data.” Start with the purpose behind the initiative and explain the business impact. Show the strategic value if the initiative is successful. Ask their opinion on the methodology. There may be technology initiatives you are not aware of which could have an impact on this journey.

6. Build a plan with KPIs & KBIs

Now you have a business goal with a KPI and stakeholders. Next, you will need a clear understanding of the behaviors which will impact the business goal.  Then, converting those behaviors into the smallest, daily activities – “nudges”.  Setting Key Behavior Indicator goals for engagement will allow you to measure leading indicators of success. Examples of the KBI:

  1. # nudges sent
  2. # of employees who enrolled
  3. # of nudges engagements (did they complete the Call-To-Action CTA)
  4. # of stories submitted 
  5. # of meetings
  6. # of emails sent by leaders

7. Crawl, Walk, Run

Remember, you are launching a new capability within your organization. Running successful people initiatives aligned to business goals will take time.  Similar to marketing campaigns, dialing in the right initiative is about experimentation, A/B testing and learning from the audience.

Most importantly, once you see the correlation between KPIs and KBIs, in consideration of their lag in impact, you are ready to run.

You are now ready to scale.

Suggested posts:

The Future of People Initiatives

Author
Adam Fridman
Serial entrepreneur, author, and speaker, Adam is a co-founder and one of the visionaries behind ProHabits. Currently, he hosts ProHabits' podcast: The Future of People Initiatives. https://apple.co/3PG15tQ

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