8 Tips for Managing a Change Management Team

If you’re managing a team that’s working on organizational change, you know how tough it can be to get everyone rowing in the same direction. See this post for tips on building, managing, and leading a change management team.

8 Tips for Managing a Change Management Team

Anyone in a leadership role knows how difficult it can be to manage and lead change teams. After all, change is difficult, often unwanted, and many employees resist change.

There are, however, ways to navigate these obstacles and create a coalition of change advocates who do much of the work for you.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Understand and clarify the purpose of the change team

The Kotter change model refers to the core change team as a “coalition” that guides change efforts. 

Their role is not simply to implement the change, but to become miniature leaders who support the efforts of the change leader. 

This means, among other things, that they should perform tasks such as creating a sense of urgency, communicating the vision for change, and advocating for change.

2. Recruit the right people

To accomplish the aims mentioned above, it is important to look for specific qualities in those recruited for the change team.

A few of those qualities include:

  • Enthusiasm for the change in question
  • An ability to manage, lead, and communicate
  • A skill set, whether it be technical, managerial, or otherwise, that supports the change program

Since, as mentioned, the change team will be guiding the change effort, it is important to focus on both mindsets and emotions, as well as technical capabilities.

3. Have your team to execute a clear communication strategy

Many people talk about the importance of communication, but it is one thing to acknowledge its importance and another to use communication to achieve measurable goals.

For example, if technology acceptance surveys indicate indicate a high level of hesitancy around a proposed software platform, communication strategies could define a means of reducing that resistance. 

In this instance, goals could focus on improving metrics such as employee sentiment, satisfaction, and behavior. And communication plans could be built around activities such as participative meetings and employee training sessions.

The guiding coalition – that is, the core change team – will be the ones to carry this plan out, so it is important to work closely with them to ensure they carry it out.

4. Identify any resistance you’ll face and decide how to overcome it

Employee resistance is one of the most common obstacles to change, and it is important to assess and address this early on.

Change teams, as miniature change leaders, should work with you to minimize that resistance before it takes a toll on employee productivity. Left unchecked, after all, resistance can snowball and it can easily cause a project to fail.

As mentioned earlier, efforts to achieve any goal, including minimizing resistance, should be measured consistently throughout the process, using methods such as employee surveys. 

Consistent measurement, after all, will clarify whether or not a plan is working and what needs adjusting.

5. Have the team recruit an army of volunteers

A guiding coalition is just that – a team that guides change efforts.

Yet, as John Kotter points out in his 8-step change model, more influence is needed to effect change on a large scale. Namely, it is important to recruit an army of volunteers.

Since your change team will be acting on your behalf, this is one of the most crucial agenda items that they should be executing. 

Throughout the change process, it is crucial to maintain momentum by continually building a large army of workers who support the change effort and are willing to drive it forward. 

Naturally, the change leader should be actively participating in the effort, by embodying that change and driving it forward. But without the support of the core change team, it will be much, much harder to amass a large enough support network.

7. Meet regularly and consistently to adjust course

There are several reasons to meet consistently. 

On the one hand, regular meetings offers more real-time insights into the progress of the project. 

On the other, it keeps the project top-of-mind, which minimizes the chances of change fatigue, miscommunication, and related issues that could arise.

Also, the more regularly a change team meets, the easier it will be to leverage more modern change management methods, such as agile change management.

8. Don’t be afraid to delegate

Change managers and change leaders often want to maintain tight control over a project. And this is understandable, since business outcomes often depend on the success or failure of a change initiative.

However, too much control can actually defeat the purpose of having a change team.

The best leaders recognize this and are willing to delegate responsibilities to the core change team. 

While it is crucial not to delegate one’s own role as the primary change leader, it is crucial to give change teams enough authority to fulfill their roles and push the project to completion.

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.