How to Ensure Employees are Engaged and Fired Up Ready for Brexit

brexit change Dec 17, 2019

I recently wrote a post about Brexit and how it demands that as businesses we look at every opportunity to minimise the risks and to maximise the opportunities that Brexit will bring. And that's regardless of how we leave, when we leave or as some hope for if we leave. Catch up on that post by reading it here.

The post advocates engaging your employees in becoming more commercially aware so that together as a business you can become:

  • More competitive
  • More agile
  • More responsive
  • More able to spot opportunities
  • More able to respond to opportunities
  • More able to cope with change
  • Financially stronger

In the post, I stated that there has never been a better time to harness your employees' commitment to change.

In today's new post, I'm exploring that fact in more detail.

I'm going to explain why now is a golden opportunity to have your employees get fully behind the changes you need to make because of Brexit or any other political, economic, social or technological challenges your business or organisation is facing.

Key Factors of Successful Change Management Programs

Professor John Kotter, of Harvard Business School who is one of the most influential voices in change management, has identified eight key phases of effective change management. These are:

  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency – the context of why

  2. Building a Coalition – champions for the cause
  3. Form a Strategic Vision and Initiatives – where are you going, what will it look like?

  4. Enlist a Volunteer Army – to all audiences across the business

  5. Enable Action By Clearing Obstacles – get out of their way

  6. Generate Short-Term Wins – celebrate success, look for the quick wins

  7. Sustain Acceleration – keep the momentum going

  8. Institute Change – consolidate successes

Kotter recognises that his sequence of phases does have some flexibility in what gets done when and when. However there is one phase he is adamant about establishing first above all else and that is step 1, developing a sense of urgency.

Creating urgency is all about helping others see the need for change through a bold, aspirational opportunity statement that communicates the importance of acting immediately.

And what better time to do that other than when change is ahead of you and you can see it coming?

Brexit and an Urgency for Change

Building urgency for change is all about concentrating on a window of opportunity that is open today but may close tomorrow. These types of opportunity bring people together, aligning them around a commonality, and clarifying where energy should be directed.

I remember some years ago interviewing a client's client helping our client understand more about the needs of their client which was the Infrastructure Division for the largest local council in the UK. The interviewee and his team had just managed the emergency gritting of the major road network due to a particularly harsh winter spell. He remarked on how well everyone collectively pulled together and got the job done without any of the usual issues that appear in normal duties. He only wished it could always be like that.

For me, this is what happens when there's a sense of urgency, in this case, an unexpectedly harsh winter snap. People saw the commonality and got clarity around where the energy needed to go. This example was a small scale demonstration of urgency but to the interviewee, it was a clear insight into how urgency can be harnessed and impacted people's behaviour and commitment.

I'm a 'remainer'.

I really don't want to see these changes thrust upon us BUT it seems as if they are heading fast and furious and frankly nobody has a clue what the real outcome is going to be for good or for worse.

It will not be business as normal. Business leaders can only navigate what lies ahead if all employees are behind preparing for and managing change and are on the lookout for the opportunities as they arise.

This means having an organisation that is commercially aware and prepared.

Brexit is the perfect candidate for urgency because it:

  1. Can bring people together if led by inspiring leaders.
  2. It is a big opportunity that could ignite the hearts and minds of your people.
  3. Provides a window of opportunity today that will close in time.
  4. Allows people to rally around a commonality as they are in it together.
  5. Is a chance for you to disrupt and take advantage or be disrupted and suffer.
  6. Can be easily understood, grasped and communicated as a need for change by everyone.

Take Action Today

Consider the following questions about your own organisation:

  • Are you using Brexit as your catalyst for engaging employees to prepare for change?
  • What are you doing to ignite the hearts and minds of your people on the opportunities that lie ahead? 
  • Do you know how to identify, articulate and communicate it?
  • Are you able to connect the changes around Brexit with a special capability of your organisation?
  • Think about your teams and individuals within those teams and consider where they may be on the two options for change illustrated in the image below and then decide what you could do ensure people adopt the right-hand approach.

Further support

If you'd like any advice, support or suggestions on how to engage employees cost effectively then contact me, Mark Gregory via [email protected] and I'll call you back.






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