5 Ways to Engage High Performers During Organizational Change

by May 23, 2018Employee Engagement Training

Engage High Performers During Organizational Change
Organizational change is always disruptive…that’s the nature of change.  But organizational change that upsets your most important employees is a change that threatens success.  It is crucial that you engage high performers during organizational change if you want the change and your HIPOs to succeed.

What High Performers Want
Imagine that you are one of the high performers your leadership team wants to engage and retain.  What would it take for you to be engaged and stay during organizational change?  Here’s what high performers tell us they want:

1. Early Warning and Early Involvement
Not surprisingly, high performers do not want to be surprised, left out or told what to do without the chance to provide input. At a minimum, HIPOs expect some advance notice of any major changes.  But what they really desire is a seat at the table during the planning stages of the change process.

This is good news.  Meaningful and lasting organizational change cannot occur without the active involvement, commitment and cooperation of the affected stakeholders.  If you want to engage high performers during organizational change, actively involve them in the design and planning of the change as early as possible.

2. Accurate and Complete Information
To engage high performers during organizational change, top talent also expects the full and unvarnished story. They expect their leaders to be confident enough to be vulnerable, authentic and transparent about the current situation, implications and next steps.   If high performers aren’t fully informed about the rationale for change, they are likely to become suspicious of the company’s motives.

If you want to win over the hearts and minds of your high performers, they deserve the entire context and background data that led the company to decide change was needed.  Our recommendation is to always share:

  • What you know now
  • What you do not know yet
  • When you expect to know more

3. A Feeling of Control
High performers like to be in the game. If the plans for change get too far ahead of your top talent, they will question how they fit in and where their future lies.  Similarly to how we run a change management simulation, to engage high performers during organizational change, empower them to define the part they will play in the change.

Help them understand what is in their control and increase their influence in those areas.  Help them envision a compelling career path and opportunity related to the desired changes.  Provide concrete examples how the new direction will benefit them personally and professionally.

4. Confidence in Leadership
The more confidence people have in their leaders, the more likely leaders are to engage high performers during organizational change.  To be confident during times of change, high performers expect their leaders to be:

  • Fully committed to the change
  • Capable of implementing the change successfully
  • Willing to invest in the resources required for the change to be a success

5. A Testing Period
Finally, to engage high performers during organizational change, prototype the change on a restricted basis with them whenever possible. Targeted testing provides insight into how it will affect high performers, their teams and the company as a whole.  With a chance to see how it goes, there will be a chance for high performers to adjust plans to ensure engagement and success.

The Bottom Line
High performers deliver approximately 400% more in productivity than the average employee.   Because even the most well run organizational changes decrease performance in the short-term, you cannot afford to disengage or lose your top talent during times of change.  Make sure your star talent stays aboard by involving them early in the plans, keeping them fully informed, and showing that you as leader are fully prepared to sustain the effort over the long haul and are willing to test it out first.

To learn more about how to engage high performers during organizational change, download The Top 6 Forces Driving Employee Engagement and Key Strategies to Move the Engagement Needle

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