In the complex ecosystem of modern businesses, the change manager emerges as a key architect. More than just strategists, he is a maestro of adaptation and understanding human psychology as deeply as their organizational dynamics. In an era that prioritises innovation, this professional stands at the forefront, guiding companies through the waves of transformation. Join us as we uncover this pivotal profession, where art meets science in the dance of change with the help of Annemie Marien, Transformation & Organizational Change Manager at Wemanity.
1. What Is Change Management?
If life teaches us one lesson, it is that Change is a process that takes time and faces resistance. So imagine being able to manage change in a structured and controlled manner to achieve concrete and effective profitability. This is what we call: Change Management.
Change Management (CM) refers to the approach that prepares, equips and supports individuals, teams and organizations in carrying out organizational changes.
In Business, change management is a core organizational skill that allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition and adapt effectively to an ever-changing world and a VUCA market (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity).
In the managerial field, change management refers to a set of processes supporting companies, departments and individuals in the process of modifying their operating methods in order to adapt to the new realities they are facing.
To face those challenges, organizations ideally need someone to prepare, plan, support, apply, or even monitor change. This is the job of a Change Manager, but how could their mission be described?
2. What does a Change Manager do?
The key to the success of change management is to convince the driving forces of the organization of the need to modify their mode of operation in order to better appropriate the changes and developments… This is when our hero emerges!
Every type of change involves different stages. It is essential for someone to help you navigate safely through them to ensure every process or task you want to put in place can survive all the uncertainties and fluctuations of the future.
Identify the reasons justifying the change management
First of all, a Change Manager has to identify the reasons justifying the change management. Once this step is completed, it is necessary to determine an action plan, to develop a schedule to be respected, and to anticipate a budget.
‘‘A change manager tries to embark and align the entire organization towards the new way of working, and then on different levels. We are facilitating that alignment and make sure everybody is on the same page.’’ Annemie Marien
Anticipate the impact of the change on the company
Then, the CM has to anticipate the impact of the change on the company and the workforce, and to plan scenarios based on potential reluctance that could slow down the change process.
To anticipate the impact of a change, CMs first look at who’s affected and how. Then gauge their reactions through feedback sessions, and finally, analyse how their daily tasks might change. This gives them a clear picture of potential challenges and helps them prepare.
Work with every levels
A Change Manager’s effectiveness is deeply rooted in their ability to operate at every level of a company.
In fact, change management is not just about implementing new procedures or tools, but it’s also about ensuring that every layer of the organization understands, accepts, and successfully transitions with the change.
- Strategic Level: CMs collaborate with leadership to ensure they’re on board and championing the change.
- Managerial Level: CMs equip middle managers to cascade the change to their teams effectively.
- Operational Level: CMs focus on frontline employees, offering them communication and training while collecting feedback.
- Cultural Level: CMs need to align changes with the company’s unique culture to prevent resistance.
Adapt the strategy according to the results
Finally, it is important for the CM to adapt the strategy according to the results obtained by checking the steps completed and the points to be improved. Behind all these steps is the need to integrate people into the change management process.
A change manager has to map out the areas and people most affected by the change. He or she conducts surveys and holds discussions with team leaders to understand potential challenges. This helps them predict the ripple effects throughout the company and allows them to prepare effectively.
3. What are the Key Skills of the Change Manager?
Being a Change Manager requires having a few skills in your toolbox. While soft skills are essential, a CM will also need to be able to analyse the situation and act according to it at every level of an organization and on a daily basis.
Communication is one of the most important skills to have for a change manager. In communication with every level of the organization, a change manager will need to adapt their approach and speech depending on the person they’re talking to.
‘‘You have to be able to talk to C-level as well as Blue-collar workers, so you really have to switch context, to change the language and words you’re using. That’s extremely important.’’ Annemie Marien
While communication is important, it has to be combined with empathy. A change manager needs to be able to actively listen to everyone in the organization in order to understand what’s holding them from changing.
‘‘You have to try to understand and be at their place, to rephrase what they are thinking and why they are so resistant. They must know they can talk to you and feel you’re actively listening.’’ Annemie Marien
An Analytic mind
After gaining some elements from active listening, a change manager will also need to be able to process it. Business experience will also help to have a quicker analysis. A change manager will have to ‘connect the dots’ to find the best solution for an individual, a team, or even the organization as a whole.
‘‘Having an analytic mind helps me see the bigger picture, break down complex situations, and predict potential challenges. It’s like having a roadmap to navigate the maze of organizational change smoothly.’’ Annemie Marien
4. How Do You Become a Change Manager?
If someone wanted to become a Change Manager, they might first consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a field like business or psychology. They’d likely dive into roles related to project management or human resources to get a feel for organizational dynamics. As they navigate the field, they’d probably realise the immense value of soft skills like communication and empathy. Joining a professional network could be on their radar, imagining the potential connections and insights it could offer.
‘‘Sometimes, individuals find themselves consistently placed in situations requiring change leadership, or they possess an innate ability to navigate complex transitions and guide teams through them. Over time, they realise that they’re not just doing a job, but fulfilling a role they seem naturally destined for.’’ Annemie Marien
There is no specific way to become a change manager. However, most change managers get a certification like the Prosci ADKAR certification and have an Agile training. Although no specific background is needed, it’s recommended to have experience ‘on the other side of change’, to have witnessed or applied change during a job experience within an enterprise.
At Wemanity, change management is one of our specialities and we look forward to helping you with your organizational challenges. We developed our own change management framework in order to make the best out of every project. Discover our offer for more information.
What is change management?
Change management is a field that includes several approaches used to prepare, support, and help organizations, teams, and individuals go through change. It’s usually said there are three types of change within an organization: Cultural change, digital change, and organizational change.
What is the mission of a change manager?
A change manager is someone who tries to embark and align the entire organization towards the new way of working, and then on different levels. They are facilitating that alignment and making sure everybody is on the same page. In order to facilitate change, a change manager works on different levels in parallel: individuals, teams, and executives for the organization as a whole.
Which skills does a good change manager need?
Being a change manager requires having a few skills in your toolbox. While soft skills are essential, in particular communication and empathy, a change manager will also need to be able to analyse the situation and act according to it. A change manager will have to ‘’connect the dots’’ to find the best solution for an individual, a team, or even the organization as a whole.
How do you become a change manager?
There is no specific cursus to follow to become a change manager. However, most change managers get a certification like the Prosci ADKAR certification and have an agile training. Although no specific background is needed, it’s recommended to have experience “on the other side of change’’, to have witnessed or applied change during a job experience within an enterprise.