Overview: This task deliberately encourages specific dialogue with each group. Ideally, this is a one-on-one sessions and/or small group discussions. Hear stakeholder concerns or points of confusion. Honestly address these points. Regardless of the format, the end-result is to help stakeholders become more open to idea of this specific change. Assume the stakeholder groups and individual will be resilient enough to adapt to the coming changes, and that collectively, they can identify creative ways to make the best of a given situation.

Considerations: For any given “concern” expressed, there are three potential outcomes and remedies: (1) the message was not properly conveyed, or not correctly heard, so the remedy is simply to clarify the message. (2) The message was properly conveyed and received, and the concerns can be directly addressed. The remedy is to change or alter the actions of the project that are causing the concern. (3) The message was properly conveyed and received, but the concerns expressed cannot realistically be addressed – and will not be addressed. The remedy is to be truthful. Who is skilled at providing tactful and honest facilitation? What stakeholder groups are most hesitant with the coming change? Why is resistance expected? Why is acceptance expected?

Practices:

  • State to the Farmers and Scientists “This task streamlines the largest hurdle in the communication plan – getting key groups on-board.”
  • Establish the messages and target audiences for this task. Focus on individual impacts. How does change affect the individual?
  • Determine the best setting or format for counseling. Some options include: Change Coordinator facilitates a group session. Change Coordinator hosts individual conferences. Supervisors are trained to counsel their staff. Newsletter provides a question/answer column.
  • Anticipate and plan for difficult questions.