Friday, 15 November 2019

The Chair-CEO Relationship

Taking over as a Chief Executive a few years ago, I was quite conscious that being a first-time CEO, it was really important for me to understand how to build a strong, working relationship between the Chair of the board and myself, based on the principles of mutual trust, respect and accountability. That was one of the questions I asked many of my experienced peers at the time – and often still continue to ask, as this is one of the most important relationships that can make or break organisations.

So why is this important ? The Chair is unlike any other ‘line manager’ that one would have. For one, the Chair is more often than not in the charity sector, a volunteer with whom one would have relatively less contact, albeit more than with other trustees. Thus, it means that the Chair, who often is not able to get into the details of the running of the organisation, is still getting substantial assurances on how the organisation is run, in terms of delivery of its strategy, plans, external relationships and internal culture. The Chair provides a steer to the board, who, in addition to their statutory and fiduciary responsibilities, also provide the strategic steer for the organisation. On one hand, while it is important for the Chair to have strategic and operational oversight of the organisation, it also needs to be balanced with the limited time s/he would have to provide that support and challenge that the CEO needs.

Speaking to many of my peers and based on my own experiences, these are some ways in which Chairs and CEOs have managed to maintain a sound working relationship, while also providing leadership and steer to the organisation.

Regular catch-up : It is generally believed that a fortnightly catch-up would be ideal. I would recommend scheduling a fortnightly call and a monthly face-to-face meeting, even if we think it may not quite be required. While using these as an opportunity to brief the Chair, it also provides space for the Chair to ask questions or offer advice. Very importantly, a catch up just before the board meeting would be crucial so that the CEO can brief the Chair on what the expectations of each agenda item would be and on what the ideal outcomes for a board discussion would be.

Policy of no-surprises : Long gaps between meetings or calls could mean that some critical issues could fall through the cracks. CEOs need to anticipate what issues could potentially be problematic or controversial, which need to be proactively flagged earlier on rather than it being sprung as a surprise in the board meeting, which could make the Chair feel quite exposed, but more importantly, would be difficult for the Chair to steer discussions with objectivity and balance.

Agreement on agendas : I strongly believe in ensuring co-creation of agenda as much as possible. There are often standard items on an agenda depending upon the organisational calendar. But it is important to understand the expectations of the Chair across the meetings in a year, so that these can be factored into developing and agreeing agendas, while also working towards a better understanding of the expected outcomes of these meetings.

Giving and receiving feedback : Unlike a member of an executive team, it could be quite difficult for a Chair to understand the implications of their engagement on other members of the team, mostly because they are not often around, physically. Equally, for the CEO, a meeting with the Chair should be a safe space where problems can be shared and advice sought. It is also an opportunity for the Chair to play the role of a coach or a mentor, as appropriate. Hence, there must be a good understanding of when and how feedback can be mutually shared, thus building greater trust and respect. This could also be about other senior members of the team or other board members.

Being part of a journey : I remember a Chair once remarking during a talk, “I prefer my CEO to help me bake the cake with her, rather than giving me a baked cake”. I think that was a very insightful comment. Often, we make the mistake of just ‘selling’ or ‘telling’ the board on a range of issues we think they need to know, but do not sometimes make the effort of bringing them on to a journey.

The external role : It is really important for CEOs to be able to identify opportunities where the Chair can play the role of the organisation’s ambassador, thus also leveraging the networks they have. These are immensely inspiring opportunities and the Chair would have the unique perspective of being a part insider and part outsider, which can be hugely advantageous for the organisation. It is also great for others to interact with the Chair and see the Chair play such key representational roles.

The Chair-CEO relationship is a very important one, and sometimes, it can be difficult to get it right. But as long as the Chair and CEO are able to agree on some first principles and get this relationship right, it can work only to the advantage of the organisation.

(Originally published by the Third Sector, November 2019)

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Getting recruitments right

A post-summer holiday time is when many organisations ramp up their recruitment plans, having avoided the quiet period. It is likely that in September or October, one would see a spike in the number of recruitments happening as organisations seek to get their chosen candidates in place before the Christmas break, fresh for the new year, or at least to have identified them.
Recruitments, as in most organisations, would be led by the Human Resources or People & Culture department or team, who, over a period of time, would have arguably mastered the art of getting things right. But why do we get it wrong so often ? In many cases, the answer doesn’t lie in pointing fingers at the HR or P&C team but asking questions about whether the ‘recruiting manager’, i.e. the person who will eventually line manager the incoming person, has taken recruitment as seriously. And that is what I want to focus in this piece. Here are a few points that I have learnt or have observed as good practices, that have worked :
·         Working in partnership : It is really important that the HR person supporting the process and the recruiting manager work in partnership with a joint understanding about the person they are seeking to recruit, rather than leave it to the HR / P&C team to manage it all. The reason being – it is ultimately the responsibility of the recruiting manager to manage the person and hence they must have a very clear idea on the kind of person they want and whether the person specifications are clearly aligned to the job description. Once this is clarified, it is important to get clarity on who will do what as part of the recruitment process.

·         Clarity on the process : The recruitment process must be right for the role and the time / effort must be proportionate to the importance of the role. Hence, while it is really important that every person joining the organisation is aligned to the culture and values of the organisation, more thought may be need to be given for roles that in leadership / senior management positions, or technical specialism. It cannot be a one-size-fits-all. If it is a trustee recruitment, for instance, it will need much more engagement of some board members. A process may normally be a combination of formal and informal panels, written tests, psychometric analysis etc. but it is important to think through which of these are really essential for the given role, rather than have it as a standard template.

·         Decision making : I always believe that the ultimate decision making must be with the recruiting manager and therein should lie the accountability for getting the right people while also empowering the manager. That said, it is important that diverse perspectives are brought in to enable and support the line manager in getting to the right decision even if they ultimately own the decision. Do give thought to how many people should be on the panel and what their role would be. For instance, if a role involves financial management, it would be important to get someone from the Finance team to be on the panel, even if the role sits in another department. Diversity on the panel is really important and it should reflect, to the extent possible, the organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. I would often advice the recruiting manager’s line manager to be involved in the process even if at the final stage, just to support the recruiting manager in their decision. In case of senior roles, I have found informal panels consisting of peers and potential direct reports to be very useful but with the role to only provide the candidates with information they need to prepare them better for the formal panel and respond to their questions, rather than asking questions themselves. Consider very carefully if there are certain roles for which you need to bring in a board member or an external panellist to help you make the right decision as they can add immense value and objectivity, which is particularly helpful if there are sensitivities involved in recruiting specific roles.

·         References : This is one of the most important and increasingly difficult part of the process that is often undermined. Employers are increasingly reluctant to provide anything more than a ‘factual reference’. It does make it hard for recruiting organisations to get more insights about the person that are relevant for the role. Personal references therefore would play a very important role and the recruiting manager needs to think carefully about obtaining it – but also, preferably, to make the call directly to the personal referees and have a conversation, focussing on a set of key questions that are relevant for the role and also on issues related to alignment on culture and values.

·         Information and communication : Irrespective of whether a person succeeds in the interview or not, it is really important that anyone applying for the role values the experience of the process. Candidates would understandably be disappointed in not getting the role they aspire for, but they will also remember how they were treated during the process, which is important for the reputation of the organisation. Hence, it is important to be responsive and respectful throughout the process – and once a decision is made, to make the effort and communicate it with sensitivity and empathy, especially in case of those who did not succeed. Isn’t it fantastic when someone comes up to you and says. “We met when you were on the panel for a role that I applied for. I was really disappointed not to get the role, but I have a very positive experience” !
Happy recruitments !

(Originally published by Third Sector, September 2019)

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Diversity and Inclusion

“We live in a diverse world and a diverse society, and our organisations needs to reflect that diversity to make us more representative and pluralistic”. That is one of the most compelling yet simple arguments I have heard in response to the question on ‘Why diversity’ ?

As a not-for-profits sector, there is another even more compelling imperative. We are united in our purpose to create a society that is more equal, more fair, more just and more safe. We do it differently of course and have different pathways, but that is essentially the core essence. In delivering our mission, we seek to understand the challenges of those who are vulnerable, living in different parts of the country or the world, so that our work responds to their struggles and their challenges. Diversity helps bring some of that understanding and empathy if our teams have people who have the lived experience of those challenges or can relate to them better than others, given their social or economic status.

And as we embed diversity in our organisations that reflect diversity in society, it is equally important to work towards an environment which is truly inclusive, that respects people from diverse backgrounds, that enables people to share their diverse perspectives, that is free of any form of discriminatory or exclusionary behaviour, that creates and promotes safe spaces and enables people to perform to the best of their abilities and effectively.

All of this is part of a ‘culture conversation’ that is very important for every organisation to have. While our success will be measured by what we do, our success will be amplified if we also consider how we do it. Any culture conversation needs to consider what kind of an organisation we aspire to be, and needs to have diversity and inclusion at the heart of it. There is now plenty of evidence on how diversity and inclusion drive higher degree of engagement and therefore more effective performance. Diversity is also now considered to be a driver for innovation and lateral thinking.

At ActionAid, we have embarked on a culture journey which we started about three years ago. It started with a reflection on the culture we currently have and conversations on the culture we seek to create. It was also the time when we were developing a new strategy, which revolved around the rights of women and girls living in poverty. We understood issues of gender inequality being driven by patriarchal values, norms and culture. And we recognised the power of feminist values to redress this ‘power imbalance’ as part of our strategy and programmes. But it was not good enough for feminist analysis to be ‘out there’ in our programmes. It was also important for us to talk about feminist principles ‘in here’. Thus started the journey of embedding feminist values as the basis of our organisational culture, and therefore a very comfortable nesting of diversity and inclusion within that, which essentially emphasises respect, self awareness, self care and zero tolerance to discrimination as some of its core principles.

A process that started off within our staff teams was soon widened to include our board of trustees, recognising the key role of governance in influencing organisational culture. We were very fortunate that the board fully embraced this concept and devoted time and effort to participate, engage, influence and shape the feminist agenda, within our strategy, culture and behaviours.

This has not been an easy journey because it makes us ask some hard questions about ourselves and raises some difficult, uncomfortable conversations. And there are no right answers or right solutions either. It is all about the principles and the values we hold dear. Even if there is a theoretical or ideological acceptance on issues of culture, feminist principles and diversity & inclusion, it eventually boils down to behaviours of each individual, for it is ultimately through our behaviours that our commitments are brought to life. It puts incredible pressure on the leadership to hold themselves accountable, to demonstrate the right behaviours, to acknowledge and accept where we get it wrong, to call out behaviours that are not aligned to our principles. Hence, it is all the more importance to embrace it and commit ourselves to get better.

We are getting clearer on some of these aspects. We are on the verge of finalising our diversity and inclusion framework that looks at what we are currently doing and what we need to do. We are consulting with various staff groups looking at various aspects of diversity, including gender, LGBTQ+, mental health. We are looking at our measures and how we report on these. We are digging deeper on specific areas of inclusivity, be it around flexible working or safe spaces. We are connecting it to feminist principles and coming up with a framework called ‘My Feminist Behaviours’. We are embedding it in everything that we want to do around our people, be it on recruitment, retention or advancement, across staff and trustees.

Reflecting on our work over the past three years, it does give me a deep sense of satisfaction that the journey has truly begun. It even makes me feel proud. Equally, I am very conscious that a lot more needs to be done in fulfilling our aspiration of an organisation that has diversity and inclusion at the heart of our culture that is embedded in feminist principles. What I do know is that we have the support of engagement of staff across the organisation and our board – and of course, we are still seeking answers !

(Originally published by the Institute of Fundraising, April 2019)

Monday, 18 March 2019

Onboarding - and why it is important

Recruitment is one of the most important management functions. Ultimately, it is about getting the right people, with the right skills, expertise and attitude, who are aligned to the values and culture of the organisation. We all know how difficult it is to get it right, we all know the pitfalls of not doing it well enough and well all know how difficult it is to retain the right people.

Once completed, the recruiting manager gets a big tick in the box. Job done ! But our experiences show that getting the people into an organisation is only the start of another and more important responsibility, which I personally find very exciting, that of onboarding.

As a term, the use of the word ‘onboarding’ is relatively recent. This has replaced earlier terms like ‘orientation’, perhaps because it is about making a new entrant more comfortable with the work place and the colleagues, and enabling them to understand the organisation and settle down well. ‘Induction’ is another popular term, which involves either focussed and tailored sessions about the organisation and getting to know about the various teams or departments in the organisation, the policies and processes, the ways of working etc.

‘Onboarding’ is presumably a more comprehensive term which is all the above, but it is also about enabling the person to be fully on board. It is about understanding the role that the person is recruited to, its connection with the mission and purpose of the organisation, the key inter-relationships both internal and external, and very importantly, the culture and values that underpin an organisation.

So how can onboarding be effectively done ? Here are a few things that I have found quite useful :

1.    Organisational history and purpose: One motto that I have found quite useful is : Respect the past, live in the present and be aspirational about the future. It is so important to know where the organisation has come from, what were the key phases in the evolution of the organisation, how do we understand the history of the organisation. That is what would help us in enabling new joiners to better understand the context in which we are working, and getting their heads around the rationale behind the various changes in the evolution of the organisation.

2.    Clarity on the role : It is quite reasonable to expect that a new joiner would know what their role is. After all, they would have gone through the recruitment pack, which enabled them to prepare for the role and that’s why they got the job, isn’t it ? Often, it is not that simple. When a person comes in, they do have some understanding of the organisation and the role, but do not take it for granted. They need to understand the role in the context of what the organisation seeks to achieve and its purpose. They need to understand their role vis-à-vis that of others in the team and in other teams. They need to understand the distinctive contribution they need to make. They need to understand what is expected of them and the basis on which their performance would be assessed. They need clarity on the role, in terms of their objectives and measures of success.

3.    Culture and values : We all have seen various ways in which people try to explain the culture and values of the organisation. It may be on wall, on the intranet site, on post cards, in documents. The trouble is, when we ask people about these values or explain the culture of the organisation, it often depends upon who you speak to. As it is often said, culture is more about how people experience it rather than how people explain it. It is that intangible, it is what people feel about being in an organisation. There needs to be opportunities and space for the person to understand this, to ask questions and to be guided in enabling a better understanding, and therefore, a deeper commitment to the organisational culture and values.

4.    Accompaniment : A new role in a new organisation can be daunting in itself. It can be particularly so for a person who is relatively young and starting a new career, someone returning after a long break, someone settling in from overseas, someone who is from a different sector, someone who is moving up or sideways in a career. The first port of call is  usually the line manager, who is responsible for the day-to-day accompaniment, with a mixture of coaching and mentoring. In some cases, it could be the someone from the HR/People team. While these are more formal and established touchpoints for contact, it would be worth thinking of a system of ‘buddying’ if the person is up for it and if the role is complex enough that requires some such buddying arrangement. Some organisations would also engage external coaching for senior roles, as they need to quickly get to grips with complex leadership challenges.

It is very difficult to estimate the exact length of time that the process of onboarding would take for it to be effective. But in my experience, it is rarely less than six months and it could last for up to a year, especially in more senior roles and in international organisations, that would require them to travel, get to the more international parts of the organisations and the programmes. What I have seen is that when done well, it is a huge investment of time and resource that is well worth the effort as it is all about making the person settle down well, which in turn, drives engagement and retention. The last thing organisations want to see is someone leaving within a year or two of joining or someone who is unable to perform, primarily because they were not supported especially in their early days !

(Originally published in the Third Sector, March 2019)

Friday, 15 February 2019

Getting consultation right

Many of us have been in situations where we appear to have the right consultation processes in place, staff seem to be engaged, original propositions change and the final decisions do reflect what staff have said. Yet, there is a lingering feeling among some that the process was ‘not consultative enough’, that it took too long, or that it was too short, or indeed many felt that they were not heard. I have yet to hear of a situation when there was a consensus that the consultation process was perfect.

I am often then reminded of a story that I heard from one of my teachers in school. It is about a man, his son and their donkey. They were going to a village fair (the story is from India). Some people remarked, “Silly fellows ! Why can’t one of them ride the donkey”? The man thought it was a good idea and asked his son to get on to the donkey. A little later, some people said, “What a disrespectful lad. The father is walking and the son is merrily riding the donkey”. The son dismounted and the man got onto the donkey. Further along, someone commented, “How cruel of the man to be riding the donkey, while his poor son is walking”. So the man asked his son as well to join him and ride the donkey, only for someone then to remark, “Poor donkey, carrying the burden of two people on his back”! So both of them dismounted and decided to carry the donkey instead, much to the amusement of people around them. And as they were navigating over a log that served as a bridge over a stream, they lost their balance and all the three of them fell into the stream.

This simple story is something I have felt quite useful to hold in my head. The main moral of the story is equally simple – You cannot please everybody all the time. And that, I find is key in developing a consultation process. So, what has worked in the cases where the process of consultation has been considered to be reasonably robust or effective or successful ? Here are a few principles :

1.       Clarify purpose : The purpose of a consultation could be to ‘sell’, ‘tell’, ‘consult’ or ‘join’ (ource: Richmond, Virginia P., James C. McCroskey, and Larry Powell. Organizational Communication for Survival. Boston: Pearson, 2013) as a decision making process. Dalmau Consulting refers to Tell-Sell-Test-Consult-Co-create which could work as a spectrum in decision making with the direction towards ‘co-create’ being more engaging and empowering. This clarity would help in communicating to all those involved.

2.       Mapping out stakeholders : Decisions taken on strategy, organisational change processes, structure, policies can all have wide ranging impact and/or influence on a wide variety of stakeholders depending upon the size and complexity of the organisation, and it may not just be limited to the senior leaders or managers. Often, it is important to consider the role of the Board and at what time they need to be brought in, given that charity boards have trustees who are volunteers with limited availability of time. Equally, one needs to consider stakeholders who are outside the mainframe of the organisation, e.g. beneficiaries, partners, allies, network members, other members of a federated structure, clients, suppliers, as appropriate.

3.       Detailing a process map : Depending upon the scale or ambition of the change process, there could be various work streams or different groups of people involved or different project teams. And while there could be considerable ambiguity around the sequencing of these, it would be helpful to have an outline of a process map, which then needs to be constantly kept under review so that it can be adapted to any changes needed. A key part of the process map would be to allocate timing for each phase and consider if it clashes with peak activity periods in a year, holiday season etc.

4.       Decision making : The entire purpose of a consultation process is to ensure that staff are engaged, their views heard and a genuine commitment to demonstrate inclusion. The benefit of a consultation process is the plurality of the views and the diverse perspectives that are brought in, especially by those who are most likely to be impacted by any changes, that may not necessarily be evident to all, especially senior managers. That said, at the outset, it is absolutely important that there is clarity on the feedback process i.e. how will the views be considered and communicated, including comments that are not taken on board, so that expectations can be well managed. And very importantly, the process of decision making needs to be explicit. Ultimately, it needs to be clear that decision making is about making the right judgement call, which is a key part of leadership.

All consultation processes need to have a formal closure. Where staff are more engaged, committed and passionate, it is most likely that there will be high participation in these consultation processes, but equally, there could be a challenge of numerous and diverse views that the decision makers would find it difficult to accommodate. Hence, it is really important that there is enough attention to the process of consultation, communication and arriving at the final outcome, to ensure that the process has been as inclusive as possible and that the decisions are taken in the best interests of the organisation – its mission and its strategy, rather than based on the views of a few highly vocal and articulate individuals.

(Originally published in the Third Sector, February 2019)

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Starting the new year

Coming back after a festive break, the year ahead may appear to be a long and windy one. There may be a sense that there is a lot of time at your hands as people settle back to their daily routines, rusty after the break. There could potentially be an ‘abundance mentality’ when it comes to time. Deadlines seem far away, meetings are a bit more relaxed and people are still catching up with what they were upto during the break over coffees and lunch. But we also know that this is a very tiny window in what would normally be a busy work life for us and the lull is not going to last. Before that window closes down, it may be an opportunity to pause and think of how you may want to organise the year ahead of you.

This is what I am thinking and thought some of it may be relevant for the readers as well :

1.       Sharpen the saw : This is a term that I have borrowed from one of Stephen Covey’s books on leadership. He gives the example of a carpenter who ‘sharpens the saw’ each day before he starts working on his orders, however busy he may be, for he knows that the few minutes he devotes to doing so is an investment to produce good quality stuff. For each one of us, sharpening the saw may mean different things depending upon where we are in our careers and what we identify as our learning and development needs, but it is worth thinking about it for a few minutes at least every week and earlier on in the year, so that we can plan out on achieving those. It could be the reading, the training, the seminar, a change of career, a different role or indeed doing something new, different and stretching.

2.       Set your priorities : Many of us set objectives at some point during the year, but I would recommend this one step before we do that. Think of the question : What are the 2-3 things you would prioritise that you would like to achieve or contribute to during the course of the year. This requires some stepping back and would be around broader ‘goals’ on organisational culture, leadership, profile rather than some very specific or tangible objectives. If the priorities are clear, the objectives help in ensuring that you progress towards delivering on your priorities.

3.       Control your time : I believe that if we do not control our time, someone else will, and that would be at the risk of not achieving what you would like or are expected to achieve. There will always be demands on your time from various quarters and you may feel the need to respond to those. Some of that is inevitable, some of that is required, but you need to make sure that there is enough time for what you are expected to deliver as that is your primary accountability. This also extends to work-life balance so that you have enough time for yourself. A colleague once told me, “Plan for only 80% of the time, as there will always be something unpredictable coming your way”.

4.       Seek feedback: Giving and receiving feedback is not easy for many people. And receiving feedback which is challenging can be extremely difficult and it requires lot of courage to be able to accept that and work on it. Not all feedback will be objective or evidence based as many could be just perceptions. One of my ex-trustees once said, “Even if it a perception, take it seriously as it means someone believes it and before you realise, that may well be the truth” ! It is quite normal to have periods of self-doubt as I have often experienced. “Am I doing my job well ? Am I doing the right thing ? Am I making a contribution ? Is there any impact of what I am doing ?” These are all valid questions. Seeking feedback especially from those who know about your work well, within and outside the organisation, can help with answering some of those questions as they see you in a manner which is very different to how you see yourself.

5.       Create space for reflection : In a busy world, this can be very difficult. I don’t think there is a set pattern for this. But many colleagues find reflective spaces in away days, which may be once or twice a year. Others find coaching or trainings very effective. Some find reading and writing a reflective process. Some teams are good at creating spaces during each business meeting, say, on a monthly basis. What works would be an individual or a team preference, but the key is to create the space deliberately and use the space creatively.
So, here is to a great 2019. A final thought – if there is one thing that the experiences of the past couple of years has taught us, be it around Brexit, regulations, trust in charities or safeguarding, it is to expect the unexpected. As someone said, ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best’ !

(Originally published in the Third Sector, January 2019)

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Imperatives for change

With a three decade plus long career, one of the things I have realised is that there is nothing like a ‘stable period’. There is always change – what may be different is the magnitude or scale of change, the pace of change or our ability to adapt to the change. But then, as has been said several times, change is the only constant !

It is natural for us to resist change, or expect resistance to change from others. It pushes us into areas unknown and potential consequences that cause anxiety. That is not good enough reason for us not to contemplate change if that is what the organisation needs. And even if we don’t want change, the external environment changes ever so fast that we need to keep up to that change to be relevant.

Each time I have engaged in, been part of or led change processes, I have realised that each one of it is different and distinctive, and that there can never be a perfect plan. That is the nature of that process called ‘change management’, even if we have experts and several books written on that. What can be done is to foresee some ways in which change can have an impact on people and organisations, and aim to leverage some of the opportunities while mitigating the risks. 

Here are some lessons I have learnt :
1.    Acknowledge that change can be destabilising : There could be strong internal or external imperatives to change. There may be a great appetite for change and even a lot of excitement. But it is worth recognising that not all colleagues would feel the same. There are often concerns around change processes being destabilising – and to know that is even more difficult if some of those experiencing such feelings are the quieter ones. Hence, it is about acknowledging it and trying to find out as much as possible.

2.    Be clear on imperative/s for change : Given the fast changing environment we are in, and the particular pressures that the charity sector faces, it is not unusual for there to be more than one imperative for change, which could be strategic, financial, regulatory, technological or leadership related or induced change processes. The clearer the leadership is about this imperative, the better it is to build a compelling narrative around the imperative for the change, which is then of critical importance in getting engagement from the board, staff, supporters, partners and other stakeholders.

3.    Regular check-ins and communications : This applies to all organisations irrespective of size, but it does become more complex for larger ones. Creating spaces for staff and other stakeholders is really important to demonstrate the leadership’s willingness to listen and engage, to understand the concerns and where they are coming from. It is also important to recognise that different people take in communications differently. Some prefer face to face conversations, some through written feedback, others through surveys or some even through their representatives. The more diverse an organisation is, the more deeply one needs to think of the best possible means to communicate.

4.    Closing the feedback loop : A key purpose of engaging with staff and stakeholders is to get their inputs and insights. To maintain the integrity of the process, it is really important for this loop to be closed with some form of a feedback so that there is clarity on how the inputs provided have been taken on board and factored into the final set of decisions taken.

5.    Planning for delays : I wonder if any change process has gone absolutely to plan without some time and even cost overruns. A lesson learnt from that is to ensure that we do not cut corners with resources allocated and that there is enough contingency factored in, as often, things don’t quite go to plan, especially if the process is designed to be a consultative and engaging one rather than being entirely driven top-down.

6.       Reflection and review : The sign of a change process that maintains integrity is going back to those who were engaged with some form of a structured or semi-structured review, to reflect on the process, highlight what went well and what didn’t and elicit thoughts that would provide invaluble learning for future processes.

So, a final thought – change is inevitable, so let us just face it and be prepared to embrace it. That is the only way we can ensure that change processes do not overwhelm us, but that we are in control of factors that will ensure effective change processes.

(Originally published in The Third Sector, November 2018)