Centralizing or decentralizing a Mobility program. Instituting a new data management system. Scaling Mobility activity to keep up with organizational expansion. Outsourcing new functions. Adopting work process systems. Enhancing diversity and inclusion through assignment decisions. Expanding and updating policy options.
What can Mobility leaders do to make sure these kinds of positive changes are authorized and supported – by other department heads, executive committees, members of the C-Suite and even Board members when necessary?
At a recent insideMOBILITY event in Geneva, 55% of the attendees either had gone through or were preparing to go through a major Mobility transformation. Twenty percent were considering change.
These Mobility leaders shared their change-approval challenges as well as their successful strategies during roundtable sessions and workshops built around the theme: “Preparing a Business Case for Change.”
The Mindset for Championing Change
First of all, it’s critical to approach change advocacy strategically:
- Portray confidence and strong ownership when presenting the change proposal to stakeholders and decision makers. Timidity or backpedaling will invite delays or even rejection.
- Present the initiative with details that identify benefits to the organization. Emphasize broad institutional goals no one can disagree with.
Within that context, what specifically should you should do to improve your chance of obtaining approval for change? Here are seven strategies that can improve the likelihood of buy-in, according to our insideMOBILITY insiders.
- Have the Answers
Don’t give anyone a reason to say “No” due to your not having a solid response to a challenging question. Be the most informed person at the table with details on these and other facts:
- Resources you’ll need to implement the change
- Measures of success you’ll employ – for the program and the organization
- Detailed estimates of benefits for all stakeholders
- Level of support you’ve obtained from all stakeholders
- Timeline and process for implementing the change
- Industry norms and competitor activity in this area
- Consequences of maintaining the status quo
- Data to support your change proposal (see tip #5 below)
If necessary, call in outside experts to help pull this information together. After all, you may only get one chance to pitch your case.
- Think creatively
Anticipate and be prepared for the conversations, questions and pockets of resistance you’ll encounter. Put yourself in the position of the people you need on your side. Understand their priorities and tendencies.
- Enlist allies
Prepare and motivate influential allies to support your change initiative. Educate them on the merits of your proposal and be candid about the challenges you’re facing to obtain approval. Of course, this is not the best time to actually build relationships with these potential allies. Hopefully you’ve developed a level of rapport and trust with key players across the organization. It’s not ideal for your first substantial contact with one of them to be in the context of an “ask.”
- Line up Stakeholders
One special category of ally is stakeholders. As you formulate your proposal for change, reach out to and share your thoughts and approaches with all who could possibly be impacted. Be open to suggestions to improve your plan and to revisions that might make the change easier for that stakeholder to sign off on or even endorse. It’s important to actively listen to your stakeholders – not simply convince them. That’s the key to turning stakeholders into advocates.
- Let Data do the Talking
This is mentioned above but it bears repeating. Try to support everything you say or claim with data. Avoid vague and wishful/hopeful statements. Find the data and apply it to your business case. Employee polls. Retention data. Historical and projected costs. Industry polls. Sales projections. Market share. You can uncover some very helpful data through suppliers, relocation management companies, trade groups and consultants. After all, what’s a more powerful sales message? “We believe this will increase productivity and retention.” Or, “XYC company adopted this approach and increased productivity by 12% along with a 50% increase in successful repatriations.”
- Learn from your Peers
No doubt, another Mobility leader has taken on the kind of change you’re proposing. Reach out to your network or engage in industry roundtable forums like insideMOBILITY to listen and learn. Your peers can describe roadblocks they’ve encountered that you may not have considered. Hopefully some of these people have succeeded in gaining approvals, which not only allows you to present this as precedent within your organization but also to learn from their experience.
- Keep Moving
Better than anyone, you know how Mobility can enhance an organization. You know how much value you can contribute if given the opportunity and resources. If your Mobility program isn’t continually improving and adapting to the times and the needs of the organization, it’s falling behind.
Change is positive. Change increases relevance. Seize the initiative and make change happen!
“Go for it! Prepare your business case and ask for the money!” – insideMOBILITY Geneva participant.