On-boarding stakeholders for successful Change Management

There are so many factors involved in delivering change within an organisation and they will vary according to the driver and scope of the initiative. However, there is one consistent element vital to successful change in organisations – the challenge of on-boarding employees and other key stakeholders. Resistance to change is one of the key factors in the failure of implementing change programmes, so it’s imperative to have people engaged and empowered.

In this post, we outline a 5-stage process to getting key stakeholders on-board:
1. Key reasons for resisting change
2. Identifying and profiling your key stakeholders
3. Influencing your stakeholders
4. Prioritising your stakeholders
5. Using the Prosci’s ADKAR model to provide action steps for managing resistance to change.

Before getting in to the detail, here’s a really valuable statement to bear in mind throughout the process.

“People do not resist change that they believe is in their best interest”

Stage 1 – Key reasons for resisting change

There are eight key reasons why people resist change and understanding which ones may affect different functions or roles within the business is the first step to getting everyone on-board.
1. Loss of status or job security in the organisation
2. Non-reinforcing reward systems
3. Surprise and fear of the unknown
4. Peer pressure
5. Climate of mistrust
6. Organisational politics
7. Fear of failure
8. Lack of tact or poor timing

Change is necessary for continued success but won’t always be perceived to be of benefit to employees. Take every opportunity to alleviate unfounded concerns to help eliminate a ‘fear’ culture.

Stage 2 – Identifying and profiling your key stakeholders

Armed with the knowledge of why your change programmes may be met with resistance, it is now time to identify who your key stakeholders are and what impact the changes will have on them.

Step 1 – Make a list of all internal and external stakeholders.

Step 2 – For each of these stakeholders, consider and answer the questions below to help anticipate their reaction to change.


• What is their source of influence?
• What can they control; money, time, resources, people, information?
• Who can the influence; colleagues, friends, admirers, contacts?

How do they use their influence?

• Reluctantly and occasionally
• In response to threats
• Assertively and directly
• Deceptively and subtly

How does the change affect them?

• Changes their authority?
• Changes their responsibilities?
• Affects goals, objectives and interests?

How does the change cause them to act?

• Opposition, uncertainty or support?
• Act now or ‘wait and see’?
• Open action or hidden action?

What would be the impact of their response?

• Significant or limited?
• Local or widespread?
• Possibly damaging?

Stage 3 – Influencing your stakeholders

Consider what actions you can take to get them on-board, as well as what actions could lead to resistance.

What would make them more supportive of the change?

• Information / understanding?
• Involvement and ownership?
• Changes in planned actions?
• Direction from more senior managers?
• Evidence of the success of the change?

What would make them less supportive of the change?

• Conflict of interests?
• No involvement in decisions?
• Personal rivalries?
• Insufficient progress?

Stage 4 – Prioritising your stakeholders

The answers to the questions above will demonstrate that you can’t address all your stakeholders at the same time and in the same way. The quadrant below can help identify when and how to prioritise communication.

Map each of your stakeholders in to one of the four quadrants and develop an action plan for each.


Stage 5 – Prosci ADKAR Model

One of the most widely used tools in change management is the Prosci ADKAR model. It seeks to guide individuals and organisations through change management activities, by outlining goals and outcomes. The ADKAR acronym represents five outcomes people need for inherent change within an organisation:
AWARENESS of the need for change
DESIRE to support the change
KNOWLEDGE of how to change
ABILITY to demonstrate new skills and behaviours
REINFORCEMENT to make the change stick.

You need to achieve each goal before you can move on to the next. Each step will help you get you closer to implementing your change project successfully, by taking the team on the journey rather than just giving them the destination.

Within the model is a top-10 action steps for managing resistance to change. These steps don’t need to be followed sequentially, instead use them if and when required.

1. Listen and understand objections
2. Focus on the “what” and let go of the “how”
3. Remove barriers
4. Provide simple, clear choices and consequences
5. Create hope
6. Show the benefits in a real and tangible way
7. Make a personal appeal
8. Convert the strongest dissenters
9. Create a sacrifice
10. Use money or power

Is your organisation currently undergoing a change programme?

Are you currently or anticipating resistance to change from key stakeholders? If you need support on any aspect of your change programme, please get in contact. Our team has years of experience delivering successful change initiatives across a variety of industries and in all sizes of organisations.

Email: info@keypathgroup.com
Call: +44 23 80 60 20 56


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