Written by Anna Bernstein on 20 Oct 2015
Most managers will have a diverse skillset which allows them to get the best out of their team and deliver projects effectively to clients. Despite this diverse array of talents, day to day managers are often not best equipped to manage change initiatives. These projects are often far larger in scope and require specialisms in a variety of areas to facilitate the change at the desired rate. There are a number of skills that are vital to ensure that a big change is successfully managed.
It is the job of the change manager to take the vision of a company director and make it a reality. The first step in translating that vision is the creation of a detailed plan. An organised change manager will map out every element of the project with key milestones factored in to be delivered by a set date. Through experience they will be able to anticipate any potential stumbling blocks, allowing the project to transition smoothly from plan to delivery.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but leadership skills are vital to deliver effective change management. As well as ensuring every technical element of the project is in place, you will be responsible for driving the project forward and ensuring that all line managers are convinced of the benefits of the change initiative. For some, change can be an unsettling and even frightening process. If the person leading the project can show confidence, they will act as a reassuring presence which will allow others to buy into the project.
A large change project will involve liaising with multiple departments in order to deliver a desired change as well as working with the highest levels of management. The ability to form strong working relationships quickly will be essential in order to get the best results from every manager and their teams. Knowing that there is someone they can trust at the top will make a notable difference to their working days.
It is the job of the change manager to articulate what will be required from each individual and team in order to make the change successful, as well as showing how they fit into the big picture. Being able to effectively communicate the overall vision and exactly why it will make a difference will keep everyone motivated and moving in the same direction. Sometimes a plan may meet some resistance, and it’s vital that you are able to coach people through any problems they may be experiencing and find the best approach to remedy the situation.
Communication goes both ways and change managers need to listen to the people who work every day in the delivery of the business. It’s important to understand exactly what they do and listen to any concerns that they might have. Those working in a particular department may be able to provide valuable insights into challenges created by the change and suggest the best solution to the problems that are presented. In any case, it’s vital to know exactly how the business and its people operate, before making changes to their workflow.
No change initiative ever runs completely according to plan and so every change manager will have to build some flexibility into their plan. There may be some unforeseen problems, such as staff taking longer to adapt to new methods or the company not being able to secure the required resources. An effective change manager must be able to adapt their plan without losing momentum and be inventive enough to find alternative resources when required.