External challenges – bringing the outside in

22 December, 2021
external challenges represented in an illustration of a helicopter with investment load, with UK government contribution 84% EU 16%

We are always telling you how important it is to communicate your Big Picture to your employees. Of course we are, that’s what we’re here for. But why do they need to know about external challenges? Surely this is the domain of the management team.

But we have no external challenges

First of all, let us say that it isn’t just your employees who need to be aware of external challenges. One of the biggest threats to any organisation is complacency. It’s easy to think that things are ticking along nicely so your strategies must be just fine as they are. This is when you take your eye off the ball. The problem is that your competitors are busy behind the scenes, coming up with new ways to gain a greater market share at the expense of anyone who is out of touch. There may be changes in the way your customers behave, or changes in the regulatory environment. Being unaware of these external challenges inevitably means missing new opportunities.

External challenges drive change

We are going to assume that you, your management team and your leaders are forward thinking, outward looking and aiming to be one step ahead of any external threats or hazards. External challenges should be one of the most important drivers of change within an organisation. So why are so many leaders reluctant to share them with their workforce? Do they feel the need to shield them from these harsh realities? Do they think that harping on about threats to the business will come across as negative or pessimistic? Or do they simply not understand how important each and every employee is when it comes to successful organisational change? Sharing your external challenges with employees at all levels is the first, positive step in implementing change.

External challenges plus employee engagement…

To be successful, any organisational change programme needs the buy-in of the whole workforce. Unless employees know why they need to change, they are far less likely to commit to it. It’s no good hitting them with the next big initiative if they haven’t had a chance to build up an understanding of how the world around them is evolving, creating a need for change. They will simply think their leaders are bringing in unnecessary changes just for the sake of it. This will seriously undermine both morale and the leaders’ credibility.

… and a sense of urgency

As well as creating a culture of sharing and employee engagement, successful leaders get a sense of urgency and momentum going right at the start of any change programme. They build up the belief that, yes, there are great challenges out there – but there are great opportunities too if everyone can work together to harness them. Successful leaders make every member of the team want to do something and do it now! They share the external challenges and get employees involved in finding solutions. Everyone then comes into work every day understanding the need for change and committed to making it happen.

Helping employees understand external challenges

Are you, as an organisation, fully building your employees’ awareness of the external challenges driving the need for change? Or is your workforce disconnected from the needs of your customers, service users or stakeholders so that they don’t ever see the Big Picture? How can you help them understand the drivers of change and become your greatest change ambassadors?

  • Bring the outside world into your organisation by sharing the changes you are seeing. Encourage employees to come to their own conclusions about the need for change.
  • Involve your employees in ‘horizon scanning’ exercises such as identifying PESTLE factors (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental). They may be aware of some or all of these individually but give them the chance to sit down and think about them as a whole. How do they drive the need for change within the organisation?
  • Get your employees to think like the senior management team. Create exercises that allow them to draw together all this information, then challenge them to decide on the course of action they would take if they were leading the business. The Big Picture People specially-tailored, interactive games do just that. Give us a call to find out how targeted games can make every employee part of the solution.

Building a sense of urgency

Your employees are on board, they understand the need for change and that they are part of it. Now you need their behaviours to drive that change. You need to build up the momentum so that everyone comes out fighting, knowing what they each need to do and determined to change their own working practices.

  • Send out scouts to bring back new information. Find out where the gaps are between what your organisation is doing and what it needs to do to overcome external challenges.
  • Share this information across the workforce and create a new-found determination to do something about it.
  • The world’s most successful organisations encourage frontline employees to continuously gather reactions to products or services from customers and service users. Their leaders listen carefully and look for patterns. They use this information to constantly evolve, providing what their customers want, as soon as that changes.
  • Capture comments, testimonials and complaints and discuss them with your employees as part of an urgency-building campaign. Help them realise that what they do matters but, most importantly, make them want to change their behaviours to be part of a positive force for change.

Share your Big Picture

The Big Picture People specialise in bespoke, tailor made games and learning maps for organisations around the globe. Gamification uses techniques used within the gaming industry to capture the imagination and spark ideas. Games can be used to explain your most complex messages and initiatives in a clear, interactive and fun way. They break down barriers, allowing people at every level of the business to share information, explore scenarios, actions and consequences in a competitive yet safe-to-fail environment. To find out how something as unexpected as a game could work as part of your organisational change programme, book a free, no obligation consultation.


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