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Roles in change management

The ultimate goal of change management is to engage employees and encourage their adoption of a new way of doing their jobs. Whether it is a process, system, job role or organizational structure change (or all of the above), a project is only successful if individual employees change their daily behaviors and workflows. This is the essence of change management - mobilizing the individual change necessary for an initiative to be successful and deliver value to the organization.

There is a whole system of people in the organization responsible for supporting employees in making this transition. From the highest levels of leadership to front-line supervisors, effectively managing change requires a system of actors all moving in unison and fulfilling their particular role based on their unique relationship to the change at hand. This tutorial examines the five key change management roles: 

  • Change management resource/team

  • Executives and senior managers

  • Middle managers and supervisors

  • Project team

  • Project support functions

Employees can successfully make their own personal transition when each of these actors fulfills their role in the context of a holistic, planned change management approach.

 

Prosci has developed tools to support each of the change management roles. Find out more in the bookstore or call 970-203-9332 to speak with an analyst.

 

Change management roles:
 

 

Their line and the unfortunate reality

The table below presents what we would like to hear each of these groups say if they are actively engaged in managing change. It also presents what you may likely be hearing from the roles if they are not bought-in and engaged in their role in change management.

Role: What their line should be: Unfortunately, what they are likely saying:
Change management
resource/team
“I develop the change management strategy and plans. I am an integral part of project success.” “I feel like I’m on an island here – people expect me to do everything and have all the answers.”
Executives and senior managers “I launch (authorize and fund) changes."
“I sponsor change.”
“I gave you funding and signed the charter – now go make it happen!”
Middle managers and front-line supervisors “I coach my direct reports through the changes that impact their day-to-day work.” “I feel like I’m the direct target for some of these changes, and I wish I knew what was going on.”
Project team “I manage the technical side of the change. I integrate change management into my project plans.” “My focus is just the ‘technical’ side. Once I flip the switch, I’m moving on to the next project.”
Project support functions “I support different activities of the change management team and project team.” “I get called in on projects and given one little task, but I’m not sure how I fit in to the overall picture.”
The Change Management Office
(or department or group)
“We own the change management methodology and support its implementation in the organization.” “I don’t even exist yet.”

 

To get each of the roles engaged in change management, it is helpful to apply Prosci's ADKAR Model of individual change (read more about the ADKAR model). ADKAR describes the five key building blocks an individual needs to make a change successfully, whether at home or in the workplace. For this exercise, ADKAR will be applied to the change, "fulfilling your role in change management".

The model states simply that for someone to effectively engage in their role in change management, they need:

  • Awareness of the need for change management
  • Desire to participate and support the application of change management
  • Knowledge on how to manage change
  • Ability to implement the required skills and behaviors for their role in change management
  • Reinforcement to sustain change management

This means that you cannot simply send someone to change management training or send them a memo and expect them to fulfill their role. They will first need an Awareness of why it is important and a Desire to fulfill their role. To build these first steps, you will have to make a compelling case for the value change management delivers and how it directly supports the work the person does. This conversation may sound very different for the CEO than it would for a front-line supervisor - but in the end you must connect effectively managing change with what the person cares about.

 

The tables below present why each role is important and the specific responsibilities for each role in managing change.

 

Change management resource/team

Why the role is important:

  • Having dedicated resources for change management was #4 on the list of overall greatest contributors to success in the 2007 benchmarking study.
  • There is a growing body of data that shows a correlation between the success of a change initiative and how well the people side was managed.
  • Without dedicated resources, change management activities will not be completed. Unfortunately, when budgets and schedules are squeezed, change management is pushed to the bottom of the priority list if there are not dedicated resources.

What the role requires: 

  1. Apply a structured change management methodology - instead of operating in an ad hoc manner, approach change management with purpose and intent (read more about Prosci's methodology)
  2. Formulate strategy - evaluate how big the change is and who will be impacted to develop a customized strategy
  3. Develop plans - based on the strategy work, create a customized set of plans for moving people forward - including a communication plan, a sponsor roadmap, a coaching plan, a training plan and a resistance management plan (read more about the five plans in Prosci's methodology)
  4. Support other ‘doers’ - the change management resource is the coach and the go-to person for the other roles described below

 

Executives and senior managers

Why the role is important:

  • In the 2007 benchmarking study, the active and visible participation of the senior leader was cited as the #1 contributor to success. And in the 2005 study it was also #1. And in the 2003, 2000 and 1998 studies it was #1 on the list. Bottom line - their role is crucial to success.
  • Employees want to see and hear the executive's commitment to the change. The authority they provide carries over to other change management actors.
  • Effective sponsorship is a predictor of success or failure on the project.

What the role requires: 

  1. Participate actively and visibly throughout the project - there are three key words here: active, visible and throughout - sponsors must be present and seen by employees
  2. Build a coalition of sponsorship and manage resistance - the sponsorship coalition describes the group of managers and leaders who will take the change back to their department, division, workgroup, etc - the primary sponsor must build and maintain a healthy coalition
  3. Communicate directly with employees - employees want to hear the business reasons for the change from someone at the top

* From the 2007 benchmarking study.

 

Middle managers and supervisors

Why the role is important:

  • Managers and supervisors are close to the action - it is their teams who must change how they do their jobs for the change to be successful.
  • In any organization there are two types of change constantly happening: 1) top-down initiatives launched by senior leaders (macro-changes) and 2) responses to daily demands from customers and suppliers (micro-changes). Managers and supervisors support their employees through both types of changes.
  • The attitude and actions of a manager will show up in his or her people - whether the attitude is one of support or one of opposition.

What the role requires: 

Based on the 2007 benchmarking study, the five roles of managers and supervisors during change are:

  1. Communicator - employees prefer to hear messages about how the change directly impacts them and their team from the person they report to
  2. Advocate - if the manager opposes the change, chances are that his or her people will as well - in many cases, the opposite is also true
  3. Coach - helping employees through their own personal transitions is the essence of change coaching by middle managers and supervisors
  4. Liaison - the role of liaison involves interacting with the project team, taking direction and providing feedback
  5. Resistance manager - research shows that the best intervention to mitigate resistance comes from the employee's immediate supervisor

* Important note - managers and supervisors cannot effectively lead their people through change if they themselves are not on board. More on this important note coming in future tutorials in this series.

 

Project team

Why the role is important:

  • The project team is tasked with managing the technical side of the change. In the end, they are the people who design how things will be done differently than they are today.
  • Without direction and management, the technical side of the project will not move forward.
  • The project team also plays a role in ensuring that change management is part of the project - by providing the appropriate resources (budget and personnel) and time.
  • Change management will be most effective when it is pulled in at the launch of the project.

What the role requires: 

  1. Design the actual change - create the solution that ultimately impacts how people do their jobs
  2. Manage the ‘technical side’ - with tools like the charter, business case, schedule, resources, work breakdown structure, budget, etc.
  3. Engage with CM team/resource - work with the change management resource or team to ensure that the technical-side and the people-side of the change progress in unison, provide timely project information
  4. Integrate CM plans into project plan - begin change management at the start of the project and weave the change management strategy and plans into the technical-side plans to create one seamless project plan

 

Project support functions

Why the role is important:

  • Project support functions bring expertise in a particular area - these groups include: Human Resources staff, Organization Development staff, Training specialists, Communication specialists, solution specific Subject Matter Experts, etc.
  • In some cases, one of these project support functions might operate as the change management team or resource.

What the role requires: 

  1. Experience and expertise - project support functions bring experience on past changes that can be applied to the current change
  2. Knowledge - each of these groups have specialized knowledge that can help the project team and the change management resource or team
  3. Tools - each of the areas bring specific tools that support change management activities - just be sure the tools align with change management best practices

 

A final observation on two different roles

In the sections above, we outlined the key roles of the different actors involved in making changes successful in any organization. It is interesting to note that in all of the roles presented, two of the roles have direct contact with front-line employees impacted by the change while three of the roles do more of their work behind the scenes.

 

Employee-facing roles:


 

  • One-to-one interactions
  • One-to-many interactions
     
  • Why are these the employee-facing roles?
    Because these are the people that employees want to hear from!

 

Enabling roles:


 

  • Create and implement the plans that are executed by the employee-facing roles within the business
     
  • Why are these not employee-facing roles?
    Because employees don't know who they are and don't really care what they have to say!

 

Implications of employee-facing and enabling roles: This is one of the most important takeaways from the discussion about roles. Change managers in organizations - whether they are the project manager, an HR consultant, an OD consultant or from a specialist change management group - must ultimately work through others. They play the role of enablers in most cases, creating easy-to-implement plans and supporting the executives, senior leaders, middle managers and supervisors throughout the organization.

 

Action steps for change managers:

  1. Adopt a structured methodology you will use on the projects you support. Prosci has certification, online and hardcopy methodology tools so you can apply the research-based approach using all of the templates, assessments and tools that are part of the 3-phase approach. Read more about Prosci's methodology.

  2. Begin making a case for why it is important to manage the people-side of change. The case will need to be made to project teams, senior leaders, middle managers and supervisors - all of the other gears in the roles discussion. Be sure to answer "What's In It For Me?" and connect change management to what they care about - such as meeting financial objectives (for senior leaders) or delivering a project on time, on budget and on target to meet objectives (for project teams).

  3. Explain the role that you need each of these groups to fill. Draw on best practices and research to demonstrate the specific actions you need and the biggest mistakes that are typically made by these groups.

  4. Provide knowledge, training and tools. For many of the different actors, applying change management is a new job requirement. You will need to help each of them build their own personal competency for leading change. Prosci offers a 1-day program for managers and supervisors and a 4-6 hour session for executives and senior leaders. Call 970-203-9332 to learn more about these research-based, hands-on programs.

  5. Coach them. Whether it is a project team you are working with to integrate change management into the project plan, the division president you are asking to fulfill the role of "great sponsor" or a front-line supervisor you are asking to coach his or her direct reports - you need to be there to provide support and answer questions. You are now the coach for the agents of change throughout your organization.

 

 

 

 


 

 

Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:

Training:

  • Change management certification ($2800)- 3-day program where you bring a project you are working on and apply all of the assessments and tools as you learn them - taught by former fortune 500 executives at locations across the US - includes over $1000 in products, including the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report, the Change Management Toolkit and the Change Management Pilot 2010
  • Train-the-trainer ($3500) - learn how to teach Prosci change management training programs in your organization
  • Onsite training - bring Prosci to your location for 3-day certification programs, 4-6 hour executive briefings, 1-day manager programs or 1-day employee programs - call +1-970-203-9332 for more information

Methodology tools:

  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting Prosci's change management methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB drive)
  • Change Management Pilot Pro 2010 ($449) - online tool including Prosci's change management methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($189) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change (includes 4 copies of the Employee's Survival Guide)
  • PCT Analyzer ($149/$349) - web-based tool for collecting PCT Assessment data, analyzing results, identifying risks and developing action steps

References and books:

  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289 / quantity discounts available) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
  • Change Management: the people side of change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • ADKAR: a model for change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - the definitive work on Prosci's ADKAR® Model
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change ($14.95 / quantity discounts available) - a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change, answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to take charge of change

 

 

*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources

 

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Email a Prosci analyst or call 970-203-9332 with questions about the methodology, its application, or finding the right resources to support your change management activities.

 

 


 

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