When leading change increase engagement by asking questions

When leading change increase engagement by asking questions

Leading change management - Increase engagement by asking questions

Successful transformation also generates “soft” benefits

Sometimes we wrongly assume that change is all about improving financial results – stock price, profitability, sales. We forget that successful transformation also generates “soft” benefits, such as trust, new organizational capabilities, and emotional commitment among employees.

Increasing engagement should be a strategic priority

But even if we strive for financial and non-financial results, additional perils await: painful emotions that boil up in our workforces whenever we ask people to think or do things differently. Whether it’s anger, alarm, or confusion, we must ease those feelings by cultivating an environment of trust, involvement and empowerment.

Have you ever been “talked at” instead of had someone “talk with”? It doesn’t feel good to have someone talk at you. It leaves you feeling like you might as well not have been there at all.

Increase engagement when leading change

It is much more powerful asking questions. Below 16 types of questions you can ask to increase engagement when leading change:

  1. What do you think about this change?
  2. Do you know why the changes are taking place?
  3. How do you feel about this change?
  4. What do you see your role as in this change?
  5. What is your opinion about this change?
  6. What is your experience with this type of change?
  7. What are you working on and how will you be impacted by this change?
  8. What are your ideas about this change?
  9. Would you change anything about this change?
  10. Why do you think this change is needed (or not)?
  11. If you could tell the CEO one thing about this upcoming change, what would it be?
  12. What are you already doing in your day to day work that supports the change?
  13. What areas do you feel will be a challenge for you to adjust?
  14. What is your experience with past changes?
  15. Do you think this change is for good?
  16. What would help you most during these changes?

No interruptions. No, “yeah, but … ”

Important note … ask these questions and listen. No interruptions. No, “yeah, but…” Listen authentically. The group or person you are talking with will recognize your sincere intent which establishes connection – the foundation of any successful change.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and United Kingdom

Blog Comments

Hi Torben,

Your article is so right on the mark! Your questions are very engaging and this builds rapport with your colleagues.
I would add quickly that to ask those questions one needs to have the desire to genuinely understand their concerns. This in my opinion is where having empathy for your colleagues instigates the step of inquiring and understanding their situation.
Thank you for your insight.
Venlig hilsen
Paul Martin

Hi Torben,

I appreciate your article as it reminds me of the questions that should be asked. Listening with intent allows engagement, and sets the foundation for building relationships. Keeping your mind open to what is being said and the validity of what is being said. Where ever they are at in the change process, their experience is very real and needs to be validated. The questions speak to what the client needs in the change process. Scaling their experience could be more revealing. “On a scale of 1-10, 10 meaning that they are panicking about the change, and 1 is that they are excited, and knowing how they fit in the change.” This creates a baseline and a direction to go for steps forward.

Chris Adams

Hello Torben,

Thanks, your article is very interesting and a great guideline for people leading change. I share your opinion, that it is very important to take care of all the staff involved in change and guide them through the whole process and beyond. This shows that you have precious experience in leading change and it’s a responsible job.

Best Regards,

Thanks/Danke Andreas

I directed mental health crisis teams in NY before, during, and after 9/11, Keeping my staff emotionally was imperative. I used what I call Poster Coaches to evoke thoughtfulness and then asked questions about them. Feeling thermometers and pithy jokes were the most popular, but guotes from the sages or experts worked just as well.

I often opened meetings and supervisor sessions with one or the other.

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