CWS 3.0: June 27, 2012

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Strategy: Building Consensus on CW Issues

Building consensus among a group of lawyers, HR professionals and line managers is never easy, especially when it comes to contingent workforce issues.

“Staffing services is one of those sacred cow expenditures where the stakeholders have divergent interests and they don’t want to compromise or change,” says Charles Dominick, president of Next Level Purchasing. “New initiatives may be doomed to fail, unless they have executive sponsorship.”

Marry Psychology and Technology
 While asking an executive to referee stakeholder disputes is a viable short-term solution ultimately, the team leader may need to use psychological tactics to motivate and persuade stakeholders into becoming a cohesive, cross-functional unit.

For example, dropping by a stakeholder’s desk to share a few strategic stories may open-up the lines of communication and compel holdouts to relinquish sacred cows.

“Let a reluctant stakeholder know that you’ve got his back by telling him about the IT manager who fought so hard against independent contractor compliance that he ruined his career,” says Dominick. “Then, describe similar problems and solutions to show him how he can meet his interests by helping others achieve theirs.”

Although it’s important to get everyone’s interests on the table before the group tackles a difficult problem realistically, some interests take priority according to Lindsey Meling, COO of GPO+. She recommends acknowledging the non-negotiables up front, so powerful stakeholders don’t incite rebellion by playing their trump cards at the eleventh hour.

Use technology to exert subtle pressure on renegades by blogging about the team’s efforts on the company Intranet and highlighting the most valuable players. Then, empower dispersed stakeholders to share ideas and build camaraderie by hosting online chats, discussion forums and virtual meetings.

For example, teammates can share documents, presentations, spreadsheets and forms for free via Google Docs and they can chat online or via e-mail by utilizing Google Groups. Plus, teams can aggregate workforce-related data from multiple sources by leveraging analytics platforms and use the consolidated information to engage in enterprise-level planning.

Online collaboration tools are an effective and inexpensive way to bolster consensus but team leaders shouldn’t underestimate the benefits of human contact.

“Online tools and conference calls are great but, stakeholders need face time to build a bond that will help them tackle and resolve the really difficult issues,” says Meling.

Leslie Stevens-Huffman is a freelance writer in Southern California who has 20 years' experience in the staffing industry. She can be reached at lesliestevens@cox.net.

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