What does a change manager do?
The rate of change in business continues to accelerate as organisations evolve to keep up with technological advances and in response to disruption from competitors. Projects with effective change management are far more likely to be successful, and as a result, the discipline of change management and the change management job market is growing rapidly.
A change manager plays a key role in the success of organisational change such as changes to business processes, technologies, organisational structure, job roles and systems. Their mission is to prepare the organisation for change to realise maximum benefits & ROI and to mitigate any negative impacts to both internal staff and external customers. They implement change management strategies to ensure a faster rate of adoption and minimising resistance to change.
Change managers work with people across all levels of an organisation. They may provide support and coaching advice to execs and people managers to help them instill change in their teams, as well as directly supporting project teams during the transition period.
What is the difference between a change manager and a project manager?
Change managers focus on the impact of change. They aim to minimise the negative effects and maximise the benefits of organisational change. This often involves focusing on the people side of change – identifying the impact on people, getting them ready for change, and handling any resistance to change.
Project managers on the other hand are more focused on what is actually being delivered and ensuring it is completed on time, to budget and meets stakeholder expectations.
Change manager responsibilities
- Developing change management plans for projects and/or change initiatives.
- Evaluating the impact of planned organisational change.
- Identifying risks and developing risk mitigation tactics.
- Identifying and managing anticipated resistance to change.
- Leading change management work streams with a structured methodology / process.
- Supporting development of communications relevant to change initiatives.
- Providing coaching and training to employees at all levels.
- Defining success metrics and measuring performance against these.
- Providing reporting and other updates to management and project teams.
What skills does a change manager need to have?
As change management becomes more complex and cross-functional, the skills effective change managers need to possess are growing. This includes a mix of technical and soft skills such as:
- Good understanding of change management principles, techniques & tools.
- Effective facilitation and influencing skills.
- Strong stakeholder management skills.
- Conflict resolution and negotiation skills.
- Good listening and communications skills.
- Strong business acumen.
- Project management and planning skills.
- Analytical mindset and critical thinking.
- Able to cope with pressure.
- Good problem-solving skills.
- Team player & able to collaborate with others.
Common change management terms
- Best practice
- Change curve
- Change initiative
- Change management
- Change readiness
- Communication plan
- Communication strategy
- Current state
- Future state
- Gap analysis
- Incremental change
- Individual change management
- Lagging indicator
- Leading indicator
- Learning programs
- Organisational change management
- Step change
- Stretch goal
- Transition state
What qualifications does a change manager need?
Requirements will vary depending on the role, but many change managers often have a degree in a field such as business, economics, management, organisational change management or human resources. Certifications in change management from a recognised body such as Prosci will be highly regarded.
Previous experience in change management or similar positions is a bonus, as is experience and knowledge of project management best practice. Candidates will also require sound understanding of the principles and practices of change management methodologies.
Who does a change manager report to?
A change manager may report to different people depending on the type and size of organisation they are working in, and the project they are working on. In some businesses a change manager will report directly to the CEO, particularly if the organisational change is significant. Alternatively they may report into a CTO/CIO for major IT projects or to the Human Resources Director.
How much does a change manager earn?
Depending on their level of experience and seniority, change managers can earn between AUD90-240k per year in a permanent role, or AUD450-1600 per day as a contractor.