Change can be a huge positive in your organisation, but it can also be difficult for your team. Implementing new technologies, new systems, and new ways of doing things can bring transformational benefits to your business, but when you leave your team behind in the process it risks becoming an expensive white elephant or can drive away your best talent.
The best way to mitigate this risk is by bringing on a good change manager — someone who can help make sure your organisation’s change project runs smoothly and that your team understands your vision and are with you on every step of your journey.
But what exactly is a change manager? And what benefits can having one bring? Read on for the answers to all your questions.
What is change management?
Change management is essentially about helping a group of people who are currently doing A to move comfortably and efficiently to doing B. To do that, you need to keep them informed about what’s changing, why it’s changing, and how it’s changing, which requires ongoing stakeholder engagement, good planning and execution, and high trust. That’s where a change manager comes in.
What is a change manager?
A change manager is someone who facilitates that move from A to B. They create a strategy, a timeline, and a plan, and ensure it’s all properly executed.
A change manager ensures that
- the right information is communicated to the right people at the right time
- the right people get trained with the right material at the right time
- your organisation can reduce friction from your change project as much as possible.
What that looks like is unique to each organisation but the key in all cases is building good relationships with the project sponsor and with the managers of the team who are going to be affected by the change.
How can a change manager improve my project?
It’s common for people to feel really affected when change happens around them, especially if they haven’t been an instigator of it. People can become really resistant when they feel uncomfortable or scared or they don’t understand the value of change and how it will impact them. This can lead to decreases in productivity, team engagement, and wellbeing.
A change manager works to help leaders understand and minimise these impacts because they know that the smoother a transition can be, the better it is for everyone in the organisation and for the organisation itself.
Are a project manager and a change manager the same thing?
Your project manager should be focused on delivering your project — making sure KPIs, due dates, dependencies, etc. are all met and that the project is delivered successfully. Your change manager, on the other hand, should be focused on ensuring the project delivery happens smoothly and that your team have all the tools, resources, and information they need to adopt the project and embed it in their processes and systems. It’s a synergistic relationship and should involve a high degree of collaboration on things like internal communication, training, due dates, and progress reporting.
What makes a change project successful?
There are five essential steps to change management:
- Evaluate — what is this organisation doing, where are they currently, where do they want to go, who are the stakeholders.
- Formulate — what should our strategy be for stakeholder engagement, communication, etc.
- Develop — putting that plan out – when is it happening, pinning down the exact details. It’s a living document as projects evolve, some adjustments do need to be made.
- Execute — execution of the plan and you go live and support.
- Complete — hand over, are still activities that need to be completed, responsibilities.
What are the most common problems change managers see?
One of the most common challenge change projects face is resistance from team members. Perhaps your team don’t properly understand what’s happening and why, or maybe they have a valid concern that hasn’t been addressed in either the planning or the communication to date. Sometimes team may need something as simple as someone to listen to them so they can talk through the impact of the project on them. There are too many possibilities to list them all, but if you approach it with curiosity instead of frustration, and apply a genuine desire to help your team feel comfortable with the project, then you may even find you can grow team engagement and your understanding of your organisation and workforce through the process.
If you’re going through a change project and feel your team aren’t on board with it or are making the rollout difficult, a change manager will be able to help you work out why and from there how to best address the issue.
Is my organisation ready for change?
There are 5 levels of change readiness, ranging from ad hoc or absent through to organisational competency. The less change management an organisation can apply, the more likely it is that a change project will fail or that team or productivity (or both!) will be lost.
The best way to make sure your organisation is ready for a change project is to talk to an experienced change manager. They can help you understand your risks and opportunities and how to best reduce friction and deliver a successful project.
Have you got an upcoming change project? We might be able to help. Reach out to us and one of our experienced consultants will be in touch.