Do you need a Change Manager?

change managerA couple of recent experiences, training and consulting, have tested my assumption that a change manager (or change team) is needed to deliver a successful change.

One client is relying on line management to deliver significant behavioural and cultural change. The Programme Manager is working with two board level directors at the top of management hierarchy. It is obvious to Programme Manager that the two directors are treating the change with different levels of enthusiasm and commitment; and that this is reflected in the next level of the management chain. The Programme Manager can also see that the implementation is very patchy at the front line as some departments have sent all of their staff on the training and some have sent none.

Another organisation that I have been visiting for nearly two years to deliver training have also not seized on the change manager concept and used it. Attendees at a recent course all proposed the change manager concept as the main missing ingredient to their change efforts; but then so did the first attendees I trained. So there has been no effective change there! The attendees report that their programme and project managers are expected to deliver any changes as no additional resources are available.

In both cases the organisations are just not putting up the resources needed to deliver successful change; and as a result are achieving unsuccessful change. I have concluded that you do need a specific change manager or change team to deliver successful change. Here’s why.

If you don’t have a Change Manager or change team then:

  • you have piecemeal implementation depending on the individual enthusiasm and commitment of line managers
  • programme or project managers are expected to do change though they are not the right people from the business, have not been trained, and do not have the resource

If you do have a change manager or change team then:

  • you have a focused resource to do the work in delivering people change
  • the team works across the organisation and up/down the entire management hierarchy to deal with lower enthusiasm and commitment where ever it occurs
  • you have people who are trained and supported to do the job
  • you have people who are motivated by clear performance goals (delivering business benefits)
  • you have the right people, from the business, who have a personal development opportunity to enhance their career

In which of these two situations are you most likely to have successful change? So if a change is worthwhile doing, it is worthwhile resourcing properly with a change team.

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