You have been invited to participate in an exciting new corporate initiative but are unable to attend the initial planning meeting where project roles will be discussed and assigned. The next day an email is delivered to your inbox with the meeting minutes. You eagerly scan the email looking for your name and role. To your horror you were assigned to the role of change manager. “Oh no”, you say to yourself, “I am a project manager. I am not a change manager. I don’t know anything about being a change manager.”
You contact the project sponsor and she responds that, from her perspective, there is no difference between a project manager and a change manager and you just need to deal with it.
What do you do now? Is it time to update your resume and change the status on your LinkedIn profile to “Open to New Job Opportunities”?
Fear not, being a change manager is not that bad and in the end you may actually enjoy it. But, first you need to understand what it takes to be a change manager and how it differs from project management.
The purpose of this article is to determine if you have what it takes to be a successful change manager.
Difference between Project and Change Managers
There is a significant difference between project and change managers. Project management is all about structure and delivering a solution. It focuses on following a methodology that includes phases, budgets, assignable tasks and deliverables. A project manager identifies risks/issues, tracks due dates, schedules meetings, generates reports and communicates with the stakeholders.
Change management is about adoption. It focuses on the people impacted by the change initiative and their willingness to accept and execute the necessary behaviors for the change. A change manager focuses on creating a sustainable change in behavior and integrating the new business processes into the organization.
Analytical Versus Creative
Change managers are primarily responsible for preparing and supporting individuals, teams, and organizations when they are impacted by a change. Change can be defined as anything that is introduced into an organization (realignment, emerging technologies, new processes, products or services) which affects the status quo or routine activities of the workforce.
Change managers lead the change initiative. Like project managers, they guide the work effort, develop and execute the communication activities, schedule and lead meetings, document everything and execute strategies to manage the change.
Two of the more important skills required to be an effective change manager is the ability to analyze information and be creative in the execution of a solution. Change managers need to combine the change process (analysis) with design (creativity) to ensure that the initiative is driven forward in a structured manner. This is also necessary to ensure that the perspective and concerns of the impacted parties (stakeholders) are incorporated into the solution that accomplishes the ultimate organizational goals.
The following table highlights the analytical and creative skills of a change manager.
Change Management Skills Profile
To be a successful change manager, a person needs to be both analytical and creative. Normally, these are two diametrically opposed skills. People are either detailed-oriented (ex: Accountants) or artistic (ex: Marketers). Change managers are required to have both skill-sets because they need to ensure that the initiative is driven forward in a structured manner (using a change management methodology), but they also need to understand that the solution has to be accepted and supported by the organization, especially by the impacted employees.
Use the following chart to see if you have what it takes to be a change manager. Give yourself one (1) point for every “yes” answer.
Success as a Change Manager
So relax, you do not need to look for a new job because you were assigned the role of change manager. If you understand your skill profile, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, you can be a successful change manager.