Change Management – From the ground up

Mark Astbury 07.03.2018

Over the last 12 months we have noticed a trend across a range of clients from different sectors, which is an increased appetite for Change Managers.

Regardless of the programmes that these requirements have stemmed from, the overriding theme has been the need for people centric change specialists – increasing the demand for strong communications and an appreciation for cultural change.

A lot of organisations are more conscious of how they actually tackle large scale change initiatives and how it will affect their employees. Whether it’s process improvements, a system implementation or a regulatory demand, we have noticed a focus towards embedding improved change governance and ensuring cultural engagement from different areas of the business.

The Need

Companies have invested heavily in shifting towards agile methodologies, favouring the faster pace and consistent delivery over the more time consuming and cumbersome waterfall method. However, the reality is that most organisations still struggle with change.

Unless you are a relatively small FinTech or a boutique service provider, the truth is that most large and established organisations were never built for continuous change. Consultancies earn their money here to plug the gaps in the interim, helping organisations keep pace with external developments, like the ever-changing regulatory landscape, by adding change experts onto existing transformation teams.

Even at an increased cost, consultancies will remain a valuable part of any large transformation initiative. However, an internal change specialist is still seen as crucial to ensure synergy between project teams and the actual business. This essentially means driving engagement from the business and ensuring benefits are actually realised so the transformation effort is not wasted. A crucial part of this is usually tackling resistance and or sceptical stakeholders. Another desired effect of this conduit would be to educate the business and change teams, which in turn will develop a stronger collaborative culture for future change initiatives.

Desired Skills and Experience

The typical requirement has been the need for someone who is going to lead change from the ground up. Aside from the 'getting buy-in from senior leadership' usually established by the more delivery focused Project and Programme Managers, the emphasis for you as a Change Manager is on driving engagement from different business areas at a granular level, thereby creating a more collaborative environment rather than imposing change.

Communications and governance - You will ideally have excellent experience of establishing detailed communications from the outset of a programme, through continuous impact assessments and benefits realisation exercises. Experience of managing senior stakeholders such as sponsors and Product Managers is also just as crucial.

Dealing with ambiguous environments – If you come from a consulting background, then you have a great opportunity to highlight knowledge of delivering change in a set of equivocal environments, usually across a range of industries. However, you don’t need a consultancy background to demonstrate this, so as long as you can highlight an ability to deliver in new environments and cultures, and guide different personalities towards positive change then you’ll be fine.

Target Operating Model – As a key member of the strategy team who will have the most engagement from the business, if you can contribute to the design of TOM’s then your application will be well received, especially if the programme is still in the early transformation phases. Experience of the actual sector you wish to go into will obviously help here, but again if you are able to highlight knowledge and experience of running similar programmes then you will stand a good chance.

Useful qualifications have revolved around people focussed methodologies rather than technical ones, with APMG’s Change Management accreditations and Prosci being the two most sought after. Knowledge and experience of working with these two methodologies will certainly help your CV stand out as a Change Manager. Other methodologies that have been more programme specific have included Agile, Lean Six Sigma and ITIL.

Looking forward, demand will only increase for change specialists as the regulatory and political landscape forces organisational change. If you would like to discuss opportunities in change management or if it is a specialism you wish to get into, then please get in touch.

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Associate Director


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