So what exactly do we mean when we say we ‘develop a robust legacy’? Is this just dodgy consultancy speak? And if you don’t really know what we mean by it then how do you know if you will value it or if we’ve delivered what we say we will?

Well, no, it isn’t one of those vague promises that you usually get from consultants. One of the main things we focus on – and pride ourselves on actually delivering – is a fully capable internal management team to support and move the business forward long after we have left. We will leave you with a restructured, re-energised team that is fully able to make sound decisions, who clearly understand their roles, responsibilities and boundaries.

We do this by working closely with them to fully understand their skill set and areas of expertise, identifying what additional knowledge and skills they will need and then ensuring they gain these during the development and implementation stage of the project.

Yes, but how do we actually do this you may be asking? What do we actually do?

Well first of all we clearly identify the scope of each individual and the overall team by defining their boundaries – we state which decisions have been made; and which decisions are their responsibility. Then we let them figure out how to develop and implement these decisions. This is a coaching approach, central to good leadership, which decentralises the substantial complex business risks involved in leading change management.

Risks on large projects are mitigated by decentralising ownership, improving decision making and ultimately transferring capability, from your interim management partner to your team. And there are some very simple but effective guides to adopting this approach:

  • Do not interrupt even when peers stop for thought, actively look forward to what they say next
  • Have the courage and respect for the individual to respect their intelligence-they can figure out the how themselves
  • Treat each other as thinking peers, give each person uninterrupted time to speak
  • Use incisive questions, and in reviews let everyone speak without interruption before an open discussion

This is a tough process. When adopted for the first time, the team will be confused; your team are very likely not used to taking this degree of ownership themselves, figuring out the how and making decisions (within the boundaries set).

When they get through this stage the results are simply astounding; this respectful approach produces teams that create outstanding results, ownership and the best thinking in less time. The change manager should be asking incisive questions to raise thinking and take it to a new level.

This approach builds the 3 cornerstones of motivation; individual learning and development (developing capability through figuring out for themselves), team relationships (respectful, safe and fun approach), and a clear direction (defined targets and boundaries). In a traumatic scenario – for example when a site is closed, it is even more important to steer away from an autocratic approach and demonstrate utmost respect for the professionalism of those involved – especially by taking their counsel on the way forwards.

This means you address all the issue and it creates a significant learning opportunity for all concerned. This is a surprisingly fast, robust and stress free process to manage. Boundaries should also be outlined for decision making – for example, consensual decisions can squander innovation and drive a team mad if difficult decisions have to be made. If a decision requires energetic support then a ‘consult and decide’ approach works best until the team becomes more experienced.

Actions coming out of a consult and decide approach provide the opportunity for learning; they build the change managers authority and the teams skills to facilitate the move to a more consensual approach. A successful team is one that has clear direction and creates its own momentum and evaluates ideas based on merit, rather than force of personality, expertise or authority.

By changing individual behaviour in this way attitudes change as well, as people feel a fundamental need to preserve consistency of their own behaviour and beliefs. So have the courage and respect for the individual to respect their intelligence-they can figure out the how themselves.