This is part 2 in our series focused on guiding you on how to implement a new project initiative without it getting blown up.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are the author’s own and do not represent Erecruit’s support of a particular alliance – Empire or Republic.
In our previous post, I identified the first crucial activity necessary before kicking off a new project: defining a clear vision and specific, measurable goals and objectives.
However, all that dedicated work can be for naught if you do not have a team who is united, competent, and focused on project success.
When making the crucial decision as to who should be an active member of your project team, the best options are not always the most obvious. While instilling organizational leaders into the group is important to help validate the project’s importance and commitment, choosing individuals who are not aligned with the project or your company’s vision can create dissent, stress, possible delays, potential significant risk in the project’s completion and future adoption.
A subject matter expert (SME) for a given area/role may seem like an obvious choice when performing process assessments and future business model decisions, but if they do not exhibit an ability, willingness or readiness to change, they could become a barrier to vs. a beacon of transformation to your organization and the project.
Likewise, an upper level leader within the organization may feel like a good option due to their position of authority and influence; however, if their goals are more self-serving (job security or elevation, financial incentive, ego), they could interfere with the project’s activities, priority and goals, or simply create roadblocks to success.
And lastly, stacking your team full of “worker bees” may be a smart choice if the project is primarily focused on low-level task-driven activities. But, if part of the project’s success involves challenging standards and analyzing future state best practices, those individuals may not have the confidence, competence or capacity for spotting or speaking up regarding inefficiencies and redundancies in processes and practices.
According to a white paper by TATA Consultancy Services, when starting the project team selection process, start with the “what”, not the “who”, focusing on what each change agent needs to accomplish vs. who the person is in the company’s current organizational hierarchy.
The selection process for change agents should start by drawing out a description of the roles and responsibilities required to be performed in executing the change strategy. A simulation of the transformative initiative with and without the mitigating role played by individual change agents will help arrive at a reasonable set of expectations from them.
A sample set of responsibilities include:
- Acting as positive role models for the project and translating the overall change vision to the team and colleagues.
- Facilitating two-way dialogue to disseminate key messages and project communication.
- Understanding the impact on employees and helping identify potential areas of resistance. This also includes understanding employee issues and concerns and bringing it to the notice of the project team.
- Becoming super users of the new system and acting as trainers to maximize training coverage and effectiveness.
- Participating in opportunities to reinforce the change after the transition period. 
In addition to the above list, an effective team member should inspire change. They should also recognize and challenge both themselves and others, regardless of rank or role (even if higher in “command”), when change opportunities are overlooked or discarded (the “this is how we’ve always done it” reasoning).
Furthermore, when evaluating members to join your project’s team as change agents, the authors recommend the following change effectiveness criteria:
- Organizational Commitment
- Personal Effectiveness
- Impact and Influence
- Proactive Behavior
- Problem Solving
Focusing on selecting team members who are able, willing and committed to help drive and promote change, along with being prepared to assume the level of commitment and work expected of them, will propel the project and organization’s success.
For our Imperial starship project team, there were a few team members with their own plans and motivations for the starship project, interfering with project planning meetings and negatively impacting team member morale and effectiveness.
In addition, selecting a team member who is not in support of the project can lead to significant risk (be it intentional or not) to the project’s success.
For a sample of recommended team members for an Erecruit project implementation, please refer to the Erecruit Project Discovery and Design Approach Guide, located in our client self-service portal. If you are an existing client and have not yet received access, please contact Erecruit Support or our Professional Services team.
In the next post in this series, we’ll explore how an involved and informed project team can help drive project success, as well as the pitfalls that may occur due to insufficient engagement.
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 Mehta, M. & Mishra, S. TATA Consultancy Services. How to select the right change agents for transformation programs. Retrieved December 12, 2016 from http://www.tcs.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/White%20Papers/Select-right-change-agents-transformation-programs-0415-2.pdf