THE ROLE OF A CHANGE MANAGER
From change agent to change master
By Ruth Tearle
A change manager may be a full time organizational development professional, a leader of a division or a middle manager charged with the responsibility of bringing about a change in his/her area. Anyone involved in helping a team achieve something new becomes manager of change. Depending on the type of change he/she is tasked with, a change manager or change agent may perform any of the following roles. However a change master, is able to perform all of these roles.
DIAGNOSTICIAN & DEVELOPER OF CLEAR CHANGE GOALS.
Like a medical practitioner, the change manager will begin by diagnosing what the real issues are, and then proposing clear goal directed solutions. He/she will begin by analyzing:
- The existing problems or issues.
- The current reality of the organization/division.
- The desired future ideal state.
- The barriers preventing the organization from achieving that desired state.
- The forces for change that exist within the organization
- The dreams, goals and values of the key stakeholders within the organization
- The organizations's future strategy.
- The organizations's values.
- The organizations's readiness and capacity for change.
- Changes occurring in the organizations's external environment that may impact on the organization and its customers.
From this the diagnostician will determine the type of change required by the organization
A change master doesn't just 'manage change.'
He/she does whatever it takes to solve a specific problem or achieve a clearly defined goal.
The most complex role of a change manager or change agent, is getting others to 'buy in' to the change process, and getting them committed to taking relevant actions. The change manager in his role as a facilitator gets involved in:
- Identifying the key stakeholders of the change.
- Involving these stakeholders in the diagnostic process using a highly participative tool such as "The Change Puzzle". This means helping them to achieve consensus on the changes the organization needs to make. When done in a participative process, this helps create ownership for change.
- Helping the stakeholders to set clear goals for their change process.
- Educating these stakeholders about the changes they want to make and helping them to understand how the changes they've selected will impact on the rest of the organization (systems thinking.)
- Helping the stakeholders to understand how these changes will benefit the company, their division and themselves. This in turn builds commitment to the change.
- Helping the stakeholders understand the 'costs' of these changes to the company, their division and to themselves personally.
Designing a change process that will achieve specific change goals, is a creative process. In his role as a designer, the change manager gets involved in:
- Reviewing all the change tools and interventions that are available.
- Selecting those specific change tools and interventions that will help the organization to achieve its change goals.
- Creating additional activities and interventions to fill any gaps.
- Checking that each intervention supports every other intervention, and that all interventions support the company's values and strategies.
- Arranging and integrating these interventions into one simple, seamless, step by step process.
- Deciding on the roles that need to be played to support the process. This could be done in a participative way, using a tool such as "Winning the Game of Change".
THE PROJECT MANAGER
Many different roles are required for a change process to work. Often a change manager or change agent will play the role of a project manager and coordinate the activities of the different role players. Typical roles in a change process include:
- A change steering committee.
- The CEO of the company.
- The executive team.
- Regional coordinators (in large scale changes).
- External consultants.
- Internal consultants.
- Middle managers.
- Departmental, divisional or branch change agents.
- Communications coordinators.
- Change web designers.
- Marketing professionals.
- Individuals within the company.
Those involved in managing the change, and those who will be affected by the change, often are surprised by their feelings when confronted by change. Resistance, frustration and confusion of common emotions associated by change.
A successful change agent or change manager educates people about what to expect from the change process. This includes topics such as:
- The psychological phases people go through when experiencing change.
- How to deal with their own feelings associated with each stage of change.
- How to help others understand and deal with their feelings.
- How to deal with 'resistance to change'.
- How to make a change process fun, exciting and developmental rather than scary and frustrating.
- How to overcome barriers to change.
- Tools for making your change process successful.
- The role of creativity in a change process.
Many individuals dislike change. While they see that it may benefit the company, change to them simply means additional work, inefficiencies, feelings of incompetence, and maybe a more limited career path.
The skillful marketer creates the belief that participating in this change will be:
- Fun and rewarding.
- An opportunity to develop new useful skills.
- An opportunity to increase one's visibility within the organization
- Like embarking on an exciting adventure through which every individual discovers his/her personal magic.
To do this, the marketer applies innovative marketing techniques more often found in the advertising, communications industries. These include:
- Participative media such as web sites, theatre, and clubs.
- Creative media such as themes, logos, slogans, story telling, art, music, songs and 'war cries.'
- Themed gifts to reinforce the change. Awards and prizes. Role models and success stories.
Why is the Oprah show so successful? People react with love, energy, excitement and creativity to anything that touches their soul.
An inspiration agent finds ways to use the change process to:
- Help individuals discover the magic they have within them.
- Help individuals to dream of the personal greatness they could achieve.
- Encourage individuals to build confidence in themselves.
- Help individuals to use courage, to take risks to use their special magic.
- Help individuals to overcome barriers to personal success.
- Celebrate individual's small successes.
SYSTEMS INTEGRATOR AND CO-ORDINATOR.
Often individuals who contribute to a change, get discouraged when they find they are being punished rather than rewarded for their efforts. This situation arises when the reward and recognition systems in the company are not aligned to the change. The change agent often needs to ensure that the following systems support the change he/she is making.
- Performance management.
- Compensation systems.
- Incentive and reward systems.
- Reporting systems.
- Measurement criteria.
- Promotions criteria.
Since organizations are integrated systems, any change to one part of the system may trigger or unexpected changes to other parts of the system. Similarly, unless you consider changes to the culture of your company, you may find that certain elements of the system may prevent your change from working.
The monitor role regularly measures progress towards the change goals. He/she constantly questions "what is working", "what isn't working" and "what do we need to change".
He/she provides regular feedback on progress to:
- The CEO.
- The executive team.
- Other change agents or change roles.
- Middle managers.
- Individuals involved in change.
He/she encourages everyone involved in a change to:
- Identify obstacles to change and find creative ways of overcoming these at their own levels.
- Identify obstacles that require changes to the entire system and may require approval from the CEO.
- Identify and share success stories.
- Turn successful people into role models to encourage others.
- Recognise and reward those who contribute to change.
QUALITIES OF A CHANGE MANAGER
While many people will find that they can perform one or two of the agent agent roles with ease, a change master would be able to perform all the change roles. The ideal change master would have the following qualities:
- Common sense. And the courage to use it.
- Credibility and trust - the ability to work at all levels in the organization
- A wide range of business experience - for example someone with experience in 3-4 different areas of the business, or an MBA, or a general management experience.
- Knowledge of a range of change management tools and how each tool is used in different situations.
- The ability to work with teams of people both inside and outside the organization This includes the ability to work with people across all departments and functions.
- The ability to do very unstructured work.
- The ability to custom design processes to meet the goals of the organization
- Self confidence balanced by humility.
- Superb facilitation skills.
- Design skills.
- Coaching skills.
- A love of innovation and learning new ways of doing things.
- A sense of humour and a sense of fun.
- A spirit of caring.
- Rational, emotional and spiritual intelligence.
- The ability to inspire people. To bring out the magic within every individual and every team.
You may also like:
Member tools - roles played in change management:
- Organizational change and development competencies. How to assess the level of change management and organizational development competencies you need for your organization. The different levels of change, and the competencies required by different role players for each level.
- Do you need to develop an integrated change management approach or a change management infrastructure? Setting up a change agent network in your organization? Use this set of slides to sell the idea to your executive team.
- Roles and skills of the head of a change management function. The roles, actions and skills of the head or leader of a change management department.
- Roles and skills of a change manager or consultant.The roles, actions and skills of a change manager or change consultant inside an organization.
- Roles and skills of a change agent or champion. The roles, actions and skills required by a change agent or change champion.
Sell the concept of change management
- Do you need to sell the concept of change management in your organization? Use these slides in the member zone to present the benefits of change management to your executive team or project team and explain how it works.
- Change management dashboard for projectsUse this expert system to get a visual dashboard of the current state of change management on your project and also get advice on what you still need to do to ensure success.
- Strategy Implementation case study. A change intervention designed to help a CEO to implement a corporate strategy.
Tools to use in managing change.
- The change puzzle kit A systems thinking and organizational development diagnostics tool. Diagnose an organization. Understand culture. Identify core changes.
- Winning the game of change Develop a change management or organizational development strategy for your organization or project.
- Magic change toolkit An exciting change management toolkit for change agents. Filled with recipe cards or activities to manage any change, reduce resistance and build excitement.
We would like to hear about your experiences and viewpoints. By sharing your own experience, you can help make this topic richer, more practical and more relevant to different situations and cultures. This helps us all to learn.