You may be considering growing your career in change management as a change manager and reflecting on the skills and personal qualities needed to succeed. Currently, you may also be implementing changes and pondering the skills needed to be successful in your role or assignment.
As we have delivered simple and complex changes in the region over the past few years, we have found certain skills critical to successful change implementation. However, before we discuss the needed skills, let us clarify what change management is and what a change manager does.
According to Prosci®, change management is the application of a structured process, using a set of tools to manage the people side of change. It is about mobilising people to deliver results and outcomes of a change. It is not only about issuing communication or managing resistance but the technical application of strategies and plans to move an organisation from its current state to the desired future state.
The focus of change management is to ensure there is adoption and use of the changes introduced in an organisation. Change can be related to the introduction of new technology, new work arrangements like remote working, creating a new culture, to changing how performance is assessed. With this in mind, we are sharing insights on the qualities and skills a change manager needs to effectively manage and implement change.
- Technical skills
A change manager can come from any discipline. We typically see individuals with backgrounds in project management, human resources, learning and development, organisational development, IT, business process re-engineering pursuing additional qualifications in change management. A change manager understands the dynamics of change, is well versed with tools, methodologies, and approaches and is able to apply these in different contexts. They understand how people experience change and can reflect that understanding in the strategies they implement. A change manager must know how to integrate the change strategy and plans with broader change plans that are sometimes owned by the project or program manager. It is important to be clear how the change activities fit into the overall project or program approach.
- Communication and interpersonal skills
The ability to communicate and articulate ideas, concepts and insights to a broad group of stakeholders is critical. A change manager is often required to present strategies and approaches to senior leadership teams, line managers, and employees or draft communication messages as newsletters, emails or town hall content. A change manager will interact with a broad range of individuals and has to add interpersonal skills to communication skills. It is important for a change manager to be able to build, foster, and maintain good working relationships.
- Team player
More often than not, the change manager will be working as part of a team. Their ability to work with and through team members is important. As the value of change management may not be fully understood by team members, the change manager will need to continuously increase their colleagues understanding of the value of ensuring people impacted by the change are adequately supported and equipped for the attainment of desired results. It is important to demonstrate the value you bring to the team in the delivery of the team’s objectives and show how the change contributes to the delivery of the overall benefits and successes. Often, the change manager works as part of a team and the ability to work with and through its members is critically important. Since many people do not fully understand change management, the change manager needs to continuously help colleagues to understand the value of adequately supporting those affected by the change and equipping them to attain the desired results. It is important to demonstrate the value you bring to the team to deliver team objectives and show how the change workstream contributes to the overall success of the change initiative.
Also Read: Overcoming Redundancy
- Flexible and adaptable
Change implementation is a process that is rarely straightforward. Quite often and despite the best planning efforts, implementation may not go as planned. A change manager needs to be adaptable and flexible to make the necessary shifts in their approach to align with the changing context.
- Business acumen
A change manager needs to understand the organisation, its challenges, opportunities, and demonstrate that understanding in meetings and other necessary engagements with colleagues and external stakeholders. Finally, the change manager should be able to balance the big picture, a broad understanding of the business strategy and objectives, and the finer details of the change implementation to be of value to the organisation.
Written By Nyawera Kibuka
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