Explore the Levels of Change Management

How To Grow Globally With A Focus On People

Mark Dorsett

3 Mins

Over the past seven years, my company Prosci has grown up from a company headquartered in Colorado with about 50 U.S. employees and a presence in just one market to one with offices in eight countries, about 250 employees and providing services in about 70 markets with our direct presence and channel program.

As Chief Global Officer (CGO), it has been my responsibility to lead this expansion. 

Mark Dorsett is Prosci's Chief Global Officer and a thought leader on Forbes Business Development Council, which originally published this article on December 19, 2022. It is republished here with permission. 

prosci-building-compressed2Prosci Global Headquarters, Fort Collins, Colorado

What have we learned along the way? The primary lesson is that we need to help people individually adapt to and thrive in the new global environment. This begins by helping them come to understand what it means to them personally and how they can be successful.

How do we do this?

Ask people what the key is to successful change, and many will say “sponsorship.” In fact, our own research of over 8,000 projects indicated that the number one best predictor for successful change is active and visible executive sponsorship.

Active and visible sponsorship requires much more than authorizing a budget and making decisions. As my colleague Lisa Kempton outlines, it requires what we call the ABCs: being Active, Building a sponsor coalition and directly Communicating with those who are impacted. It certainly means staying actively involved well beyond a kickoff meeting.

Expanding Into New Markets

When moving into a new country, it’s important to work closely with the country leader to set the expectation that people in that market will have direct access to both your organization’s direct executive as well as others at headquarters to ask questions, seek advice and find out with whom they can connect. It’s crucial to provide avenues through which they can become active and integral players within the broader community.

I personally have more often begun to have 1:1 interactions with not only the country lead but also all the in-market leaders, at least bimonthly, as soon we get started. You might ask if this runs the risk of destroying the credibility of the direct manager. While it’s true that this runs the risk of people starting to go around their direct manager, we have found that it rarely happens, and the benefit of feeling connected is much greater. We’ve found it a useful practice to remove hierarchy and titles as much as possible within the company and encourage people to talk directly to whomever they believe can best help them.

When having such conversations, I make it a point to ask such key questions as, “What do you need to be successful? Is there anything that I or someone else can do to remove barriers?” I don’t want to be known as the person who only asks for things from them.

Building Support Among Sponsors

Savvy CGOs should also be intentional about getting other executives involved. While I need to be accountable for the global results, I cannot and do not want to do this alone. So sponsoring discussions and visits from our CEO, our CFO, our EVP of Talent or Sales and others is critical to our ability to build a global community and shared ownership.

Starting something new, whether it be the launch of a new product or sales channel or entering a new geographic market, always brings surprises. I have encountered many unexpected factors to consider when it comes to merging people and organizations, bringing with them different types of business results as well as clients.

I advise leaders to expect some bumps, try not to overreact and instead make sure to provide the reassurance that we are united as one in our shared challenges. This past year, one of our country’s leaders unexpectedly died. As the market was less than a year old, the team members wondered what would happen: Would we shut it down? What would we do? We made it a company priority—not just my own, but a company-wide priority—to help them, reach out to them and demonstrate our commitment to the people first and then the market.

Putting People First During Change

Most of you probably have experiences similar to mine in that the business results in the first couple of years are often choppy and difficult to forecast accurately. So, whenever the rest of the leadership team and I talk with the people in new markets, we repeat that while we care about business results, we are in this for the long term, and the direction is more important than immediate financial success.

Finally, I want to petition leaders not to forget about the people who bring their organizations to the point where it is. This may no longer be limited to one geographical market, vertical or product. Our team members, new and old, need to understand the “why” of the change and what it means to them. Laying out clear communications on who will be impacted, when and to what degree are all important components of effective change management.

primary-sponsors-role-and-importance (830px)

Mark Dorsett

Mark Dorsett

Mark Dorsett has over 25 years of experience as a global business leader, influencer, and corporate executive. As Prosci's Chief Global Officer, he is responsible for all direct business outside the U.S. Interacting with people and organizations in 70 countries and on six continents, Mark helps them find ways to realize greater value from their organizations and change initiatives. Mark is a member of the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and a thought leader on Forbes Business Development Council.

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