In talking to a client recently she said, 'I wish I knew how the steering committee was going to react before presenting the plans this week.' I said, 'You can.'
I call this the No Surprises approach - surprises are great for birthdays, holidays, and having cherished family or friends arriving unexpectedly from far flung places (when that was possible). But, in business, surprises are not usually a good thing.
Having worked with many project teams, steering committees, and the like, I pointed my client to the Stakeholder Conversation (page 117 in Talking Change: Must-Have Conversations for Successful Leaders) as the starting point for her to consider who will be impacted by her project and how, including the steering committee. Mapping out different audiences helps you develop a picture of possible benefits and resistance, and what will be needed to win people over to commit to and continue the changes you are proposing.
Then I recommended she call at least some, if not all, of the steering committee members prior to the meeting to give them a bit of background on what she was going to present (not all the details), ask them what they are hoping to learn or see resolved at the meeting, and what questions they may ask during the meeting. These are important conversations to have when leading change.
Knowing what questions might arise and preparing for them ahead of time will make your steering committee meeting much smoother and keep it focused on making decisions and moving forward versus having to schedule more meetings to provide further explanations. It may seem strange to have a meeting about the meeting, but in my experience, knowing what (and who) might throw a wrench into your meeting, and who will be your biggest supporters, is best known before and not during the meeting.
Over the next several weeks I'll continue this series of 'I wish I knew' - so send in your questions about leading change. What do you wish you knew more about before embarking on change initiatives in your organization. I'll leverage content from my book Talking Change and other experience to help you embrace change and lead better.
Join the Whistler Report mailing list to get this series straight to your inbox.