Tag Archives: change manager

Middle managers to drive change

What does it take to succeed in change?

shutterstock_121409479Middle managers in most organisations have a huge influence over the success of organisational change. Most middle managers are passive about change; a few step up to delivering change; all of them need to be behind the change. Some recent blogs point to how to get middle managers on the side of success in change.

click here to find out how

Change Advocates — a good idea?

The idea of advocating change

Change AdvocateChange advocates both promote change in a business and help protect staff from poor change implementation. They do this by advocating the change on behalf of the business and being a channel between affected staff  and senior managers. The role demands trust and respect from both staff and managers; here is how it works.

The problem the Change Advocate role tries to solve is how to get buy in to major changes where the change is managed by a central Change Team. We have worked with Cheshire West and Chester Council to help implement this concept. The project is now on the shortlist for an Award at the Training Journal Awards.

The Change Advocate Role

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWCC) realised that centralised project management was efficient for doing change but tended to cause resistance from the front line staff so it was not as effective as it should be. The Change Advocate is a member of front line staff (manager or worker) who is trained and supported in delivering change. They have two aspects to the role which each advocate needs to balance.

Promoting Change

The Change advocate promotes the proposed change to front line staff. They communicate directly with affected staff about the change, using communications skills they have learned on training. Advocates expect to be involved in planning change; stakeholder engagement is key to successfully designing an effective and acceptable change. With prior engagement, selling a change to staff is much easier. Advocates will be involved in rolling out the change, continuing the communication. They will lead in solving problems in a way that both reduces risks to the benefits and increases the confidence of staff in the changes.

Promoting the interests of staff

Change advocates are themselves affected by the change they are promoting so they have a vested interest in a successful and acceptable change. They have the ability to put the staff side of an argument (with the central change team) to senior managers and advocate on behalf of staff. Very often this role leads to more creative solutions to change problems which are based on reality.

What makes an Advocate?

An advocate needs to be self motivated (and is usually self selecting as a volunteer). They need the trust and support of the staff they are working with. Often the basis of this trust is both a transparent approach to work and knowledge of the front line based on experience. They also need to be able to talk directly to senior managers as peers in problem solving change issues. In many organisations this can be challenging. CWCC are working hard to create a culture of support and challenge to make these conversations easier all round.

Supporting Change Advocates

In creating the first cohort of Change Advocates, CWCC worked with us to support the role with three specific components:

Networking

It is very important for an individual advocate to realise they are not alone and that others are having similar difficulties. Regular networking events with the opportunity to share experience and problems are essential. CWCC held networking events every month for the whole cohort. These were carefully timetabled with time to chat and share, as well as more focused discussions and learning sound-bites to reinforce training associated with identified problems.

Problem solving

The cohort were randomly allocated to small Action Learning Sets. The purpose of these was threefold:

  • To train the cohort in a specific supportive problem solving technique.
  • To provide the basis for ongoing collaboration with a small group of colleagues across the Council.
  • As further networking, but on a smaller, more intimate, basis.

The Action Learning Sets were initially facilitated to establish the format and procedures. After a few meetings they became self facilitating.

Training

A short training course on some soft skills for change was used to introduce the concepts of people change and effective communication recognising individual preferences. Change Advocates then took a vocational Level 4 assessment to achieve a qualification in Managing Change from C4CM.

About You

How is change organised in your organisation to make effective and efficient use of resources to deliver beneficial change? Comment in twitter and let us know. @C4ChangeMgt

Reporting bias and failure: lessons for sponsors

How do you know what’s going on?

On target -- how do you know?Some recent research into bias in reporting about project status has implications for change governance. Two recent examples of poor reporting have surfaced recently: the fiasco on the launch of the IT to support the US Government Health Care programme (Obamacare) and the under-performance of the Universal Credit IT system in the UK. In both cases the senior civil servants and politicians claimed there were no problems only to find major problems when the systems went live (in the US case) or were scrutinised (in the UK). Why do the sponsors not find out (or not tell us) about problems in change projects until Its too late? What can a sponsor do about it?

Click here to find out what a sponsor can do

Avoiding Blunders

Blunder: a spectacular change failure

Government BlundersA book I have just finished reading contains some excellent ideas for avoiding a complete failure in a change. The book, The Blunders of our Governments by Prof. Anthony King and Sir Ivor Crewe describes a series of major blunders by our governments. In each case a government minister set out a radical change in the way things are done and ended up wasting billions of pounds and abandoning the change. The most famous is the introduction of the poll tax; but there are eleven biggies in here. As with many significant change failures, its not just the government that is hurt (well its the taxpayers that foot the bill for these in-competencies) but also customers: you and me (who are also tax payers). Similarly, those at the top who should be accountable seem to have the traditional punishment of promotion and whitewash. The authors identified errors in human thinking and system errors which led to these blunders.

These are the human thinking lessons the authors put forward (the system errors are in the next blog posting): click here to see the lessons

Change Manager Standards

Two new standards announced

The effective change managerIn the last few months two organisations have announced standards to define the role of the Change Manager. We wait for years for the role to get a formal definition and then two turn up at once.

We believe that these standards are an important development in the maturity of managing change as a subject and especially for the role of the Change Manager. They indicate an increasing awareness of the need for the role and the need to define it professionally.  Below I work through the importance of these standards, their context, and the dangers they may present.

click to see the upsides and downsides of the standards