Time for something new? How to find an effective change manager for your organisation

Change agents can perform miracles for an organisation, but 70% of initiatives result in failure. Here’s how to find a manager that will land your company on the other side of this statistic.

Organisations are hiring specialised change management professionals more often than ever, with the number of change managers doubling in the past four years, according to the Change Management Institute (CMI) 2014 Employment Study.

Broadly speaking, corporate change management can be categorised into four types:  
  • Transactional or project-level change: when companies require reforms in the way that employees work. Implementation should be well-planned and consistent, to minimise disruption.
  • Strategic and transformational change: when organisations attempt to align future needs in strategy, technology, business processes, operational architecture, culture and leadership. These changes cut across stakeholder groups, and demand extensive focus on risk management.
  • Transformational change: shifting the manner in which teams operate
  • Strategic change: moving towards a customer-oriented basis through research and statistics

When recruiting for managers to oversee these changes, experts advise that companies should look for change agents with experience in the company’s field.
“I often end up pulling people in from the business, said Dr. Elizabeth Short, Senior Change Manager and Portfolio of Change Lead at Westpac Institutional Bank. “These were projects for the business and these people understand the business; they know all the people. All they needed to do was learn how to manage change and all the steps involved. In the financial world, where I currently am, knowing the business is a blessing because it’s a complex world. By and large, you prefer someone with that experience.”
In addition, other traits that make an exceptional change agent include;
  • The ability to write well and engage stakeholders
  • Impressive presentation skills, especially when trying to persuade senior managers
  • Willingness to listen and perceive any possible reasons for resistance
  • Time management skills
  • Some L&D knowledge, to facilitate communication and employee training

Finally, it’s important that change managers are able to operate with a thick skin.
“You have to know how to manage conflict and resistance," Smart said. "You can’t just dump something in and walk away. There’s a degree of commitment required. It’s a tough job."

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