"Following their secondment to the change team, employees may develop different career expectations, the sponsor needs to be cognisant of these during and after the change programme"
An often-overlooked element in many change programmes is planning for the reintegration of seconded employees back into the organisation after the change comes to an end. It is up to the sponsor to ensure that any seconded change team members are recognised for their work on the change programme and that they will have a role when the change dissolves. This can cause problems for the sponsor both during the change and after it closes:
Change team members often get nervous about having a position after the change team dissolves. This prompts them to initiate a search for their next position, either within or outside the organisation, and the sponsor only finds out when they hand their notice in.
Seconded employees leave the change programme before it closes:
o Change programme implementation speed is disrupted, and some change activities might be dropped while a replacement is onboarded. Positive working relationships, trust between employees and other impacted stakeholders may suffer, etc.
o Attracting quality replacements becomes more difficult if other employees perceive someone leaving the change programme as negative, they may be put off from taking on the seconded role.
o The nearer to the end of the programme that a seconded employee leaves, the more impact it has. It will be a major challenge to replace the employee’s programme knowledge and capability which will impact critical planned activities, making it more difficult for the sponsor to successfully sustain and close the change programme.
Hopefully, the seconded change team members had a brilliant experience while working on the change programme. The change should have helped them to develop change management skills and knowledge, gain exposure to leaders, employees and impacted employees, as well as giving them the opportunity to undertake a different type of role from their previous work. Following this development and experience, their value to the organisation has increased. With the acquisition of new skills, employees may feel that going back to their old role is a step down, so the sponsor, their boss (pre-secondment) and the organisation will all have to acknowledge the employee’s work on the change programme and manage their new expectations going forward. Other reintegration questions for the sponsor and the employee’s (pre-secondment) boss might be:
How was the engagement between the seconded employee and their (pre-secondment) boss during their time on the change team?
Did the employee’s responsibilities and activities on the change programme cause friction with their old department or team, which might impact working relationships after integration?
What roles are available within the organisation that match the employee’s new experience, skills, and expectations?
Has the employee missed out on a promotion opportunity while seconded to the change team?
What are the challenges if an employee has to report to a former peer following their release from the change programme?
“Sponsorship is the single most important factor in change success”
This blog is based on my book: Change Management Sponsorship - Leadership of Change Volume 7
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Peter consults, speaks, and writes on the Leadership of Change®.
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Peter F Gallagher is a Change Management Global Thought Leader, Guru, Expert, International Speaker, Author and Leadership Alignment Coach.
Listed #1 by leadersHum Top 40 Change Management Gurus You Should Follow in 2022 (Mar 2022).
Ranked #1 Change Management Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (2022-2021-2020) by Thinkers360.
Ranked #2 Business Strategy Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Change Management (Dec 2020) by Thinkers360.
Ranked #2 Leadership Global Thought Leader: Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Leadership (Aug 2020) by Thinkers360.
Business Book Ranking
Change Management Behaviour - Leadership of Change® Volume 6, listed among the 50 Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2022.
Change Management Adoption - Leadership of Change® Volume 5, listed among year-to-date’s (Jul 2021) most popular books on business and technology from Thinkers360 member thought leaders.
Change Management Handbook - Leadership of Change® Volume 3, listed among the 50 Business and Technology Books from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders to read in 2021.
Change Management Pocket Guide - Leadership of Change® Volume 2, ranked within the top 50 Business and Technology Books (Jan 2020) from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders.