Thought Leadership Articles

    4 Essential Skills You Should Have in Your Change Management Team

    Sep 10, 2018 | Posted by Michael Campbell

    Having the right team members, with the right skills in the right structure can be the key to ensure project success. Without the right support and assistance at the foundation, your project could fail before it has even begun.

    As with any change management or project management plan, one size doesn't fit all when it comes to choosing the right team structure and the right team members. Being intentional and thoughtful about the unique attributes of your project and your organisation is essential to the success of your change efforts. Do not necessarily settle for what you have been provided with – push for a structure that enables your success, the project team’s success and your sponsor’s success.
    Each team structure - whether you have a full team or you're on your own - will come with a unique set of advantages (and disadvantages) depending on the change, the organisation and the relationships between your change management resources, project team resources and your project sponsors. The past history of change success or failure will also cast a shadow.

    We’ve put together four skills we think every change management team should have. If you are solely responsible for implementing the change project – assess your current skills against those listed below and start educating yourself and working on your weaker areas to ensure you are fully equipped for success.

    1. Excellent communication skills

    Those included within your change management team should have the ability to communicate reasoning clearly and concisely to both employees impacted by the change, middle managers who guide and coach employees and executives who have to get on board and sponsor the adoption of new ways of working required by the change.

    Communication is a two-way street. As well as being articulate, it’s important that change team members remain open to any opinions or feedback, whether they are positive or negative, and to avoid labelling these people as being difficult or detrimental to the change to promote trust and authenticity. Remember to be empathetic and see things from the team’s point of view to fully understand which problems they are looking to solve and how implementing suggested changes will impact this. Focusing on the ‘why’ first before the ‘what’ and 'how' of the change won’t only show you as an authentic change leader but will encourage a stronger buy-in and urgency for change. Great change management practitioners also coach their leaders and line managers in how to be great communicators as these line managers will be the people primarily responsible for the change management execution.

    2. Business influence 

    Prosci Best Practices in Change Management research in 2018 found that only 43% of participants said they had influence on budget and resources. Effective sponsorship is the catalyst your project needs to succeed, its been the #1 reason why changes succeed or fail for the past 20 years, according to Prosci's research. Ensuring the sponsors understand the differences between their roles in sponsoring a project and sponsoring a change is critical. Ensuring that these same sponsors then carry out their actions required to effectively sponsor a change is vital and is the responsibility of the change management practitioner.

    Read more: '3 Common Sponsorship Challenges'

    3. Commitment to the change

    Once a change initiative has been approved and is set to be implemented, it is important to have a "right-size" dedicated change management team to drive the various activities that will take place. Change leadership isn’t just about helping members of your team adjust to new change initiatives smoothly. To successfully implement change and give the best training required for a successful uptake, change management practitioners themselves must commit to the change in all aspects. Not only should they be committed to following the change through, but also react to any unpredicted hurdles that occur. Certain members within a team might require more training than was initially planned, and a committed change management practitioner will work with the line manager to sense and facilitate the right corrective actions. It’s important for the change management practitioner to ensure everyone is on board with the change and has received the appropriate levels of training in the new ways of working required, to ensure that the change is fully adopted and delivers its intended business results.

    4. Knowledge of the business

    You might have all the change management knowledge you need to follow through on your project but if you aren’t able to assess if one method is better suited for the business than other, you may end up hitting a brick wall. Bringing a well-experienced member of the business onto the change management team, or brushing up on the history yourself, will be greatly beneficial to successfully implementing the change.

    To find out more about the skills required to ensure a successful change, read our post 'Four Skills of A Great Change Manager'.

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