Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:46 pm Post subject: The Five Qualities of an effective Change Manager
At Papleux.com, I write about IT Service Management and I try to provide practical advice on how to adopt and adapt ITIL.
I've recently spent time trying to figure out what to look for in a Change Manager. Surely, some of the Job Descriptions out there puzzle me. My article is not about the job description itself, but more about the personal qualities that I would try to find in the right candidate...
The Five Qualities of an effective Change Manager
Written by Fabien Papleux
Thursday, 19 October 2006
Change Management has great potential to enhance the delivery of services in your IT organization. It is one of those processes that can stand alone and bring results all by itself.
But it is a tough nut to crack for many reasons that anyone accustomed to corporate environments can relate to. It threatens fiefdoms. It destabilizes internal entrepreneurs. It also looks like increasing bureaucracy.
The Change Management process imposes an advisory board, forms need to be filled out, business cases have to be developed, and I skip some. Surprisingly, one of the benefits that the process of Change Management can bring to the organization is an increased speed of release of changes in the live environment. An artfully implemented Change Management process is the best thing since sliced bread, but it really takes communication skills to overcome objections while building a case for it.
It is difficult to sell, it is difficult to implement, and it is difficult to maintain. If you want my advice, this is no job for an average IT guy or anyone too technically competent, unless he/she can demonstrate levels of proficiency in all of the following areas:
1. Political Skills
Very high on my list is the need for the Change Manager to be responsive to all stakeholders interests and to maintain a very effective relationship with all in the organization. The Change Manager will very much rely on various managers and staff to comply with rules and regulations. This is not an arena where the use of a stick provides any long term benefits. There actually is a case to make that the stick is never a long term solution, but I digress.
The introduction of Change Management is a game of give-and-take. For instance, you will make the network people come to the table if you manage to convince the Collaboration Products people to come as well. The success is in the size of the coalition.
Next, the Change Manager needs to take responsibility for the Change Management process and policies that need to be established. He/She needs to take charge and sell it as a key to the performance and reliability of the Services. That person should not be afraid of taking that much on his/her shoulders because that's how big it is. Any less, and the rest of the organization will find ways to dismiss its importance.
He/She needs to champion this process every day, on every occasion, and he/she needs to motivate people, educate them, and reward them for their successes.
3. Business Focus
Having a broad range of technical knowledge, rather than expertise in any single one, will also be useful for the position. The Change Advisory Board, which will in part be composed of experts in their own fields, will be filling the technical blanks. The understanding of how a particular change will affect the business is far more important. In ITIL, IT IS the business. Every time a change is proposed, it needs a clear justification and a priority for the business, or there really is not much reason to execute that change.
The person in the position of Change Manager will also need to bridge business and IT because IT guys do not always come equiped with that business sense. They will come with very valid changes and they will sometimes need help putting the case together. While not directly the Change Manager's role, it is nevertheless an important aspect of Change Management.
4. Management Skills
Because this is one of the processes that are most difficult to justify and demonstrate value from, it is also absolutely essential that it be religiously measured, reported on, controlled and managed.
Establishing clear metrics, communicating expectations, identifying threats & risks, preparing contingencies and taking corrective actions as soon as a deviation to target reaches the appropriate threshold are all actions expected from the Change Manager.
5. Structure and Organization
Last but not least, the Change Manager is an organized individual. He is a man or a woman of method. He never misses an appointment, chairs meetings efficiently and he is always prepared.
He knows how to manage his time and respects the time of his peers. Poor timing can be destructive because a disruption in someone's schedule, especially if repetitive, has a negative effect on relations, which can turn into less-than-adequate advice and, therefore, less-than-perfect decisions.
Positioning of the Change Manager in the organization
All in all, as you can see, the Change Manager is a fairly senior manager that can interact at different levels of the organization, that links Application Development and Operations, that links Business and IT, and, ultimately, that ensures the performance of the operations.
Depending on your existing structure obviously, I would suggest placing the Change Manager high enough in the organization to give him/her the authority to enforce policy when necessary, but low enough so as to stay close to IT operations and bond with team leaders and managers. _________________ BR,
Technology Consulting | Service Excellence
Red Badge Certified
I just started working as a Change Manager and the qualities described in this article are the perfect requirement for thi position.
In my case, since I am in charge of Changes in the Americas Region, language skills were also a requirement.
I haven't read the article yet, but after reading your post I have some hot comments.
In my work as a Change Manager there is one important quality - Communication Skills.
It is not about talking fluently in languages used within organisation but to have a gift to create proper relationships between parties incorporated in Change Management processes. It is about the style you conduct meetings, present ideas, initiate organisational changes. It is very connected to Political Skills you mentioned.
The one I think Change Manager doesn't need to have is Leadership Skills.
It is team manager and senior management to lead the organisation.
Change Manager is mainly to support organisation with good processes and control mechanism.
I know good Change Managers who are not the ones I would follow. But I respect them for their way of thinking, explaining and detailed control attitude.
There is one exception I would say Leadership Skills are one of the most neccessary ones - when we are at the initial stage and Change Management is to be deployed/emerged in our organisation.
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