Whether you are looking to implement a contingent workforce solution from scratch or you are simply looking to expand your existing program, success will depend on adoption. And adoption requires much more than articulating to the Nth degree the benefits and processes associated with your new program; rather, it begins with getting stakeholder engagement at the very outset, and fundamental to achieving this, is listening to their voice.

I know this may seem obvious, yet many go about this the wrong way.

Think of your stakeholders as your customers. The best definition of a customer that I have come across is a Six Sigma definition, which is along the lines of: “a customer is anyone whose satisfaction or dissatisfaction is a result of what you do.”

Think about that for a moment — a customer is anyone whose satisfaction or dissatisfaction is a result of what you do. Thinking about customers in this way drives us to understand the responsibility we have in achieving a satisfactory outcome.

Whether you are in HR, procurement, part of the talent acquisition team or some other group function charged with the responsibility of implementing or expanding your contingent workforce program, you should take sufficient time to consider who the various stakeholders might be and document who they are, why you have chosen them and what their contribution might be to the overall success of the project.

Look at yourself as a director or senior VP of problem-solving!

To be credible among your customer group, you will need to understand what it is that the overall organization is looking to achieve (and why), as well as the different cultures and drivers that will exist across your diverse group of stakeholders. Many programs fail to achieve the desired levels of adoption due to the incorrect assumption that what is important in one region will automatically be important in another. Hint: it very rarely is.

This is especially true on the individual level. As human beings, two people can see and hear exactly the same conversation and arrive at different conclusions and emotions as a result. In fact, the same person can see and hear exactly the same conversation on two different days and still come up with different conclusions and emotions depending on how he or she feels on that particular day. Thus, effective stakeholder engagement requires a high degree of empathy. If you are to engage your stakeholder group effectively, you need to accept that we are all emotional creatures and listen accordingly.

Once you have identified your stakeholder group, try wherever possible to engage with them independently as well as collaboratively. I explored this more thoroughly in a prior article, “Consulting with Stakeholders: Avoid the Herd Mentality,” referencing a famous experiment conducted in the 1950s by Solomon Asch.

Be prepared to add additional people and/or groups to your stakeholder teams when necessary and most important, listen first.

Capture the Voice

A great tool for capturing the voice of the customer is a Six Sigma methodology called House of Quality. Structured correctly, the House of Quality allows you to document the key overall needs of the business together with the needs of individual business units and people. Using scoring data, you can arrive at solutions that satisfy the needs of all parties (at least to some degree). The most important benefit of this tool is that it demonstrates (statistically), that you have listened — the fundamental step to gaining adoption.

Do not be afraid to ask for people’s help, and be sure to fulfil your tasks in a timely manner and motivate others to do likewise.

Build a spirit of teamwork where everybody feels part of the solution.

Finally, ensure that the business is ready for change. Our CWS Council members have access to our Global Readiness Indicators checklist, which is aligned to:

  • Business case
  • Change management initiatives
  • Current state and landscape
  • Compliance and governance

This should be the first step before a program implementation or expansion is even considered.

So, surround yourself with experts in both application an opinion, give yourself the tools and methods to communicate and listen effectively, have good change management structures in place to enable your project to move course when necessary, and do not take on unreasonable and unachievable objectives.