3 Steps to Becoming a Successful Change Manager

Chris @ChangeMBlog Smith

The performance improvement efforts of many companies have very little impact on functional and organizational results.

While some companies constantly improve measurable performance, others try to avoid the problem. It is hard for both managers and employees to move forward with change initiatives, where they may be resistant to the change.

This is human nature.

As companies introduce change management programs under the assumption that if they carry out enough of the “proper” improvement activities, actual performance improvements will inevitably materialize. That is not the case. Successful change managers are able to initiate and motivate change to their employees allowing for the change to happen smoothly.

3 key steps that are important for change managers to help enforce the change are through clear communication, focusing on critical factors for success, and good leadership.

Gartner Analysts say it starts with the ability to understand employees’ needs: “That starts with allowing them the same time to adjust, understand and embrace the changes that the leadership team granted themselves. A little empathy can go a long way.”

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1. Clearly Communicate Vision of Change

If a change manager cannot clearly communicate their vision of change, nothing will happen. Excellent communication is a strategic tool which leaders use to gain support and focus on their vision for their change initiative. With change, you want to keep your employees informed of what is happening and what they need to specifically do. If poorly communicated your team will not understand what is needed to be done and will not know how to execute the vision of change properly. When outlining the change initiative you also need to make sure that your employees understand what is happening. Overall, make sure you underline what the need is for change and how you plan on making it happen.

2. Focusing on the Critical Success Factors

As soon as the need for change has been communicated, leaders are responsible for managing the success of both organizational and personal change. For successful change, it is important for change managers to follow and recognize the Critical Success Factors:

-Creating a sense of urgency

-Aligning the need for change with the business strategy

-Gaining approval of the vision

-Developing a range of understood actions created to influence the company and employees

-Ensuring constant communication with all stakeholders

-Emphasizing personal and organizational adaptability

-Establishing clear metrics/measures that relate to business performance.

Following these 8 critical success factors will drive successful change. These factors look at leadership, personal change, and organizational change and focus on how they can create business growth. This will help change managers figure out what is most important for the company and how the change initiative can run smoothly.

3. Be the Leader and Lead

The most important step for successful change management is leadership. As a manager, it is your duty to lead your team to success. Even in large corporations, as the change management leader, you need to make sure you reach from the top to the lower end of the company. It is your responsibility to decide if any training needs to be done in order to make the change run smoother. A survey on success and failure rates of change initiatives done in 2008 with IBM found that only 40% of projects met budget, goals, quality, and schedule. This is the result of the leader. You will be the one who everyone turns to for guidance and it is your responsibility to guide them. Leaders are the ones who create the conditions, which will help determine who will become superior and successful.

Gartner Analysts speak to the character of a change leader: “Change is hard and it can only be navigated by someone with belief, passion and tenacity. Monetary incentives, bonuses or other extrinsic rewards will not be sufficient to garner support when the going gets tough…and it will.”

It is very hard to deal with change, no matter the environment or people involved. As a change manager, it is important to guide your employees and explain the reason as to why the change is happening. From there, employees will be more will to go forward with the change rather than become resistant.

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Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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