Thinking of a career as a Change Manager? 5 things to consider before you make the leap

So you want to explore a career in change? Do you consider yourself to be a 'people person?' Here are five questions you should reflect on before taking the leap:

1. How resilient are you in the face of adversity? In lots of organisations change is not understood or mature as a function. So it can be a hard slog affecting change, influencing and coaching stakeholders on why you are even in the organisation to begin with. Project Managers may challenge you and your professional guidance may be flat out rejected. So you need to be tough, resilient and measured with your approach. 

2. How empathetic are you? The more you can walk a mile in someone else's shoes the better a change manager you will be. If you are simply wanting to tell people what to do, maybe pursue training or another profession. Having compassion and empathy will ensure you take the right approach when people resist the change.

3. Are you willing to learn about yourself to better understand how to...

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The gift of the so called 'whinger'

Now this may not be a term used world wide, but in Australia a 'whinger' is someone who will complain about something endlessly. In the world of change, a whinger can be your best asset.

Someone who objects to the change provides a number of opportunities to anyone willing to listen:

1) They challenge your 'why'. Sometimes we try to 'sell' a change into the business and sometimes the 'why' isn't hitting the mark. You want your 'why' to engage hearts and minds. You soon know if that isn't the case when there is a 'tough crowd'. Your 'why' just needs to be better.

2) They tell you whether your detailed impact assessment is accurate. If you listen well enough to someone who is objecting to the change you will realise that you may not have assessed all of the impacts accurately. You may even want to engage the most vocal person in the room to better understand those impacts.

3) Often they can also be your biggest advocate. I can't tell you how many times the so called 'trouble...

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First you have to ASK

As humans our default setting is to tell others what to do. It makes us feel good, gives us that 'hit' of significance that we need. When I made the leap from Uni to working in a corporate environment I couldn't wait to share of my 'expertise' (oh it makes me cringe now to think of it). I was young, inexperienced but enthusiastic and form day one I started my 'real world' learning.

Then you continue in your career, and I think it was in my late 20's when I realised that there were better ways to do things. I realised the more I listened, the better the products and projects were that I delivered. So I thought to myself 'wow listening is really key'.

Now I know it goes even further. Now I know that you are better to ask first. Even more over time you begin to realise how important the questions are that you ask. Then of course you need to listen. It is amazing how often we don't ask. We don't ask customers what they need, we don't ask staff how they are feeling or what they need to...

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Don't think you have the time to consult? Make the time!

Many people in business don't like to consult. They would prefer to just get on with the job and deliver something. The urge to move forward and just get something done is strong and any consultation is seen as inconvenient and unnecessary. Unfortunately when the product or service is ready to be implemented, it takes twice the time to engage and often results in a solution that doesn't work for the consumer.

We see it time and time again. IT solutions designed with leaders, not the 'doers' and delivered only to find out it doesn't meet the need of customers or staff. Processes mapped on 'best practice' not matching the reality of the business and capability in which to deliver them. Example after example. More money spent on projects to redo what the previous project failed to deliver and the major difference the second time around? Consultation and engagement with those who are responsible for the process takes place to deliver the right solution.

So what is my reply to those who...

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3 bad change management habits to avoid

Sometimes we can fall into bad habits when working in Change. At times it can be stressful and if these habits creep in your practice it will may compromise your reputation as an effective change manager or as a change leader. 

1. Thinking that people will just do as you tell them.

It makes me laugh when Managers expect their teams to simply do as they say. Many progressive organisations however are showing more emotional intelligence and understanding that people choose who they follow. All people go through an emotional process when any change occurs. A good change leader understands how to support their team through this and engage their people in the change. I won't limit this to just change leaders, as I do hear Change Managers say exactly the same thing. Only in unique organisations where hierarchy is necessary to survive such as in the Police or Military, would the 'people will do as I say' rule exist and apply. 

2. Taking the same approach to change every...

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My dad taught me about the importance of people in business

Today is Fathers day in Australia and I thought it was fitting to pay tribute to the things that my father taught me about valuing people at work. My father was a teacher and a Primary School Principal. 

One thing I will say about my dad is that he always enjoyed creating a strong 'business' which in this case was a Primary school, that benefited the community and especially the kids. He valued his teachers, and when I left home and started my career, we spent many an afternoon on the back verandah of my old family home chatting about people challenges and he counselled me on approaches I could take to get better outcomes. I am lucky, my dad is still here and I am grateful for being able to still sit and have a cuppa and a chat about business in general. I will never take that for granted. 

Here is some of the wisdom that he would impart:

The 'customer' matters the most - always. In my fathers case these were the kids in his school. He was able to make the 'system' work...

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Be grateful for that crappy boss experience

I know I'm not the only one who has had a crappy boss at one time or another in their career. You know, the one who manages through fear, is unpredictable, and loves 'playing games'. A common response to anyone who dares challenge their somewhat 'interesting' view of the world is to label those employees 'difficult and unappreciative', with repercussions sure to follow. Reporting into managers like this is exhausting.

Suffice to say that throughout my career I am lucky that I have only had a couple who fit this profile. In both cases when staff engagement survey feedback came back accurately reflecting how the team felt, rather than listening and responding, reactions were swift and emotionally driven. 

There were four lessons I took from these experiences:

1) Choose who you wish to follow. In both scenarios I chose to leave. Not through pressure but through choice and a realisation that I wasn't willing to compromise my integrity or values. I wanted to be inspired. I...

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7 ways to be an inspiring change leader

'Every successful organization has to make the transition from a world defined primarily by repetition to one primarily defined by change. This is the biggest transformation in the structure of how humans work together since the Agricultural Revolution.'

Bill Drayton

Change leadership is now part of the job description of being a people leader. In the fast paced business world where changes are being introduced. Engaging your employees and inspiring them to perform well in a changing environment is a skill. So what are some of the ways you can be an inspiring change leader?

1) Engage your people: Get to know them and who they are. Engaging your staff on the change is not the same as simply cascading key messages and informing your staff of the changes taking place. Ask questions, have the team work on what actions they would like to take to adapt to the change. Work with the project areas or business areas introducing the change to get ahead of the change curve.


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How to prioritise with people in mind

The ability for leaders to prioritise is a key skill in today’s business world that Executives need to master, in which to avoid creating a culture of change fatigue. 

Some organisations discuss the need for change resilience, when one of the contributing factors to change fatigue is already within their control through consistent prioritisation practices.

The constant changes of direction due to poor planning, or misalignment of local priorities to strategic priorities can lead staff to feel disenfranchised with the organisations leaders.

So why should leaders keep their people in mind when prioritising work priorities to strategic priorities?

Decision making in the prioritisation process can adversely effect staff morale. It can cause conflict and confusion affecting employee engagement and productivity. Even for the best performers in an organisation it is difficult to feel a sense of loyalty when it seems that the decision makers don't understand the people impacts of...

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How to introduce change without compromising on performance - Part 2

In the last post we talked about introducing change without compromising on performance, highlighting the change in the rhythm of the business when change is introduced. In the first post we talked about this in the context of a hurdler.

In that analogy we covered why it is important to engage those impacted by the change an involve them in creating the plan, so they can adjust more easily. That is one of the foundation principles of change - engagement of those who are impacted by the change.

Another key way in which to maintain performance in change is to always set the 'future state vision' and changing measures within the organisation so all people are clear on what the future state measures are.

There are two questions that are critical when discussing what the organisation or team may look like after the change has been implemented:

What does success look like?

How will we be able to tangibly measure that success?

This is one of my favourite sayings


This is so true. If...

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When the Change overview is ready we will send it out. If you want to know the basics of change, then look no further.