Who is a change manager and why is so important his role in the business transformation?

Author: Анна Марко

Changes in our lives occur daily. Each project for business transformation is related with the search for a new meaning and require changes in people’s behavior.

People’s behavior is a kind of an uniform system of values in a team, which is often called as corporate culture. And in simpler terms – this is how the employee behaves when the head does not look at him.

Any kind of changes in the company cause employees at all levels an endless full range of emotions. However, the attitude of people can change as the introduction of new ideas and receiving the expected effect.

Companies in which an immature corporate culture or it is generally absent, very often meet the rejection of changes and “sabotage”. In contrast, if there is a unified spirit in the company, so any transformation of the business, process changes, approaches, strategies and standards will have a positive effect in the form of an increase in growth rates.

Today, it is increasingly possible to see that the most successful and profitable companies are those where the corporate culture is not constructed along the way “we are a family” but is constructed on the notion “we are professionals who are united by one big goal”. We can say that this approach has changed the system of corporate governance towards professionalism, rather than nepotism.

In a context of a high level of competition and the rapid development of business environment, every transformation project or any other changes must be carried out as quickly as possible. Business owners and top management expect unquestioning acceptance of any ideas and immediate implementation of them. To that end, the Company creates Project offices, which are change engines and responsible for successful implementation of the strategic objectives set for business transformation.

The modern project management says that the role of the project sponsor and project manager is not enough to manage the emotions of the Company’s employees and keep the corporate culture at a stable level. For large transformation programs, a special role must be introduced into the team – a change manager.

This position is still exotic for many: very few people understand what such a specialist can be useful for the company and what benefits the transformation program can bring.

The Association for Change Management Professionals (ACMP) characterizes the role of the Change Management Specialist:

  • plays a key role in the initiation and implementation of changes;
  • provides a fast and most efficient process of change;
  • promotes a positive perception of these goals by staff;
  • acts as a coach and helps him successfully implement the changes;

A change management specialist must have the following skills:

  • to have a high level of emotional intelligence – he will have to work with objections and resistance, find methods of motivation and excitement (as a rule, people are not easily accepting changes);
  • to be able to maintain a friendly business relationship;
  • to be communicative, diplomatic;
  • to be able to constructively criticize and give feedback;
  • to have the skills of counseling and coaching.

In order to understand what a change management specialist should do, let’s look at a figure that reflects the emotional state of a person onset of any changes.

Usually everything starts with uninformed optimism after “shocking” news, here may be incomplete or unreliable information, but received. As awareness is increasing, pessimism usually grows, people already understand what they might face change, some of them refuse to “continue to do the business” and go into depression. Others express determination and devotion, really look at things, and their optimism begins to grow. Soon they enter the stage of “stable work”.

In order for changes to be successful, one must understand: the main changes occur at the time when the fear of change is gone. As soon as the company creates conditions that allow employees to get out of stress and emotional wells, they are happy and willing to learn new behaviors.

In order to create transition conditions for a new model without fear, a change management specialist enters into operation. His mission is to explain to people that, as before, it is already difficult to work, that the old model is inefficient.

«You or in our sandbox, or not» – it is a kids position . Adult position is to help others. This is not a parental position – to protect, it is adult and weighted communication.

People have several basic fears:

  • appear to be unprofessional
  • to lose face
  • to be unclaimed

The Change Management Specialist should act as one of the Change Agents:

  • to identify the level of importance of fears and their motives
  • to form a detailed work plan with fears
  • to identify ways and tools of communication
  • to formulate concrete benefits to changes
  • to initiate the forming process of a new corporate culture.

However not only a specialist of change management is responsible for the effectiveness of changes and emotional stability of employees of the Company. Top managers also need to maintain a unified team spirit and prevent the following mistakes, which can have a final say to the changes:

  1. allow your people to fall into the emotional pit, following the principle of opposition: “if you do not do this – you are not ours.”
  2. do not pay attention to corporate culture, while introducing changes. After all, it is culture that provides 60% of success. The remaining 40% is technology.
  3. officials in the system do not show unity with respect to a new business and behavior model. That is, they say to employees how they need to behave themselves – but they behave themselves in the old way. It also happens that among the top management there is going on a conflict: one part acts in a new way, the other – in the old way. And if they do not agree, everything will fall apart.
  4. the desire for rapid change. Sometimes the result of global transformations requires tomorrow, in two months. But the very word “culture” in Latin means “cultivation.” You can not pour a flower, and then pull it out and see how much it grew. No reason to expect very fast results, but when they appear – they will be fundamental.

As we can see, the business owner and the top management form by their actions the message to the team for a brighter future and greater actions.

The leader’s behavior model is automatically copied by people, so the key change agents are the business owner and the top management, and their main assistant is the change manager.

Transformation of business is quite long and complex process of forming new habits at all levels of company activity. One can not underestimate the importance of communication in the change process. Communication tools and motivation methods will be considered in the other articles.

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