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The Whistler Report

Talking Change in the Boardroom - 5 Key Conversations

Board room chairs, empty
Photo credit: Dane Deaner

Are you having the right conversations with your board to lead change effectively? 

As leaders and organizations continue to face unprecedented change, board members have an important role to play in asking the right questions and engaging management in the right conversations to enable their organizations to realize the benefits of change.

As outlined in my book Talking Change: Must-Have Conversations for Successful Leaders, there are many conversations needed during change, including self-reflection conversations, planning and managing conversations, and engagement conversations. Conversations create debate, understanding, agreement, and the impetus needed to move people and organizations to embrace change.

Conversation is the way for boards and management to stay connected, manage risk, and make the right decisions to move their organizations forward. Here are five key conversations for board members to have with their management teams during times of change. 

Download your free conversation guide: Talking Change in the Boardroom 

  1. The Why Conversation – to identify the  compelling reason to make change now. Key questions: Why change? Why change now? What are the different results we want to achieve? What is happening inside or outside of the organization that is driving us to consider change? What will success look like? How will we know when we’ve been successful?
  2. The What, When, and How Conversation – to decide what changes to make, then when, and how the changes will be implemented. Key questions: What are the different business and performance results we will achieve with this change? What has to happen to achieve the vision for change? Who is leading the overall change; how are required activities resourced? What is the forecasted budget for the change? How is it being funded?
  3. The Situation Conversation – to assess the magnitude of the change and the readiness of the organization to implement the change. Key questions: What is the management team’s level of buy-in and belief in the change? What is the organization’s track record for implementing change successfully? How many people need to learn new skills or behaviours to achieve the change? 
  4. The Stakeholder Conversation – to identify all stakeholders impacted by the change, to understand what they need to do more, better, or differently, and to consider why they might resist the changes. Key questions: Who is impacted by the change? What will each audience need to know or do differently to execute the change successfully? What may cause the different audiences to resist? What is planned to gain the commitment of the different audiences?
  5. The Celebration and Thank You Conversation – to celebrate wins during the change process and thank people for their efforts. Key questions: What has the team (or individual) done to contribute to positive change results? How will the team (or individual) be recognized for their contributions? 


Download your free conversation guide: Talking Change in the Boardroom