What skills do you need to excel in change management positions?
In this article we’ll explore the three major change management positions.
Then we’ll discover what their duties are and what skills you’ll need to succeed.
Change Management Positions: Roles and Duties
There are three basic levels of change management:
- Enterprise Change Management Capability – This refers to the permanent function of change management in an organization. That is, it entails maintaining a change management department or team, a set of processes for change, and formalized procedures for initiating change projects.
- Organizational Change Management – This function views change management from the top down. It involves identifying organization-level processes, groups, and structures that will need to change.
- Individual Change Management – On the other hand, individual change management is bottom-up. It begins at the individual level, focusing on employee motivation, resistance, and psychology.
All of these change management professions are essential for successful change management.
Typically, most of the skills required will overlap, though each role emphasizes different talents and responsibilities.
Organizational change management, for instance, requires more of a strategic focus.
Individual change management, however, will require more interpersonal skills, communications skills, and understanding of group psychology.
At the end of the day, change management is driven by people. Strategic thinking and other hard skills are certainly required.
However, change managers must put people at the center of their models, which adds more weight to soft skills.
7 Must-Have Skills and Responsibilities for Change Management
This discipline is very cross-disciplinary, requiring a mix of business skills, digital savvy, and people skills.
Here are a few of the most important tools you’ll need to succeed in today’s change management positions:
The ability to communicate is essential to many jobs.
However, it’s absolutely critical for change managers.
Communication skills help:
- Mitigate employee resistance
- Boost motivation, morale, and productivity
- Enhance collaboration at every level, boosting program productivity
- Get higher quality feedback from participants and stakeholders
Every change management program is driven by its employees.
The better you can communicate your vision, your plan, and your program’s benefits, the more successful your initiative will be.
Leadership is essential for driving change programs forward.
- Examples to follow
- A direction to move in
- A vision and a story to hold on to
Providing these is the leader’s job.
In some cases, change leadership and change management are handled by different people. In smaller organizations, the same person may wear both hats.
Either way, leadership is required to organize employees, mobilize support, and push a project to completion.
Vision is the ability to see a program’s “after” state.
Having that vision helps:
- Employees see which direction they’re moving in
- Improve motivation
- Create a change story to follow
Change leaders are usually the ones credited with possessing and promoting this vision.
Though change is not impossible without vision, it’s vision that defines the direction and purpose of a change initiative.
4. Strategic Analysis and Planning
Soft skills alone won’t cut it in change management.
At the enterprise level, change managers must create a strategy to achieve their vision.
Together with executive stakeholders, they must:
- Analyze the current state of the organization
- Develop a plan that strategically benefits the organization
- Create a plan for change
Strategic thinking permeates every aspect of the planning stage.
Managers must think strategically about how to communicate with employees, how to create a program that benefits the organization, and how to maximize results with minimal expenditure.
5. Knowing Change Management Principles and Best Practices
Another core skill for change management positions is simply knowing their discipline.
Change management knowledge includes:
- Change models and frameworks
- Group psychology, with a focus on how people undergo transitions and changes
- Project management and leadership
On top of these skills, change managers must be intimately familiar with the company they are assisting. This includes the company’s history, its culture, and its marketplace, for starters.
6. Other Soft Skills
Communication is perhaps the most important soft skill for change managers.
But it is not the only one.
- Ability to influence others
- Educational and training skills
- Working as part of teams
All of these skills will directly impact the results of a change program.
A change manager or leader without such soft skills won’t gain as much cooperation or support as one who does.
7. Digital Literacy
Today, digital literacy has become essential for every position, including change management positions.
There are several reasons for this:
- Many of today’s change efforts are driven by digital technology
- Digital technology can improve the results of a change program
- Digital business models, such as agile, can improve change program timelines, decrease costs, and get better results
This is not to say that change managers need to become programmers.
Far from it.
Change management should, however, understand how digital impacts every modern organization.
Those that do will experience greater success than those that don’t.
Change management positions are demanding.
They require a cross-disciplinary background, plus a unique blend of soft and hard skills.
However, for the right person, these jobs can be rewarding and exciting.
Cultivating these skills is a good first step toward becoming a skilled change manager and leader.