Project Manager’s Role in Change Management

Project managers are regarded as a key stakeholder in the organisation. They are bound to be a part of the team planning, implementing and managing change in the organisation. Many of the projects that you undertake as a project manager are brought about by a need for change. This change can be as a result of a need arising in the internal organisation or as a response to its external environment.

What is change management?

Change management is the term given to the discipline that guides the preparation, implementation and control of change in ana organisation. It has more to do with the tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome. As a project manager you are a key stakeholder of the change management team. This is because your responsibilities include the implementation of a project and ensuring the long-term creation of value within your organisation. Therefore, to be successful you need to be a competent change manager.

The role played by project managers

The role project managers play in the change management process is determined by a variety of factors. These factors include, the type of change being implemented. Whether it is a process related change an organisational culture related change. The project manager’s role also depends on whether they are the one who came up with the idea for the change in question or it was suggested by the top management.

Project Manager’s role during process change

Change management can involve the improvement and modification of corporate processes. These can either be in manufacturing activities, operations or even human resources policies and procedures. The reasons for going through process change may be to follow industry standards, to gain a competitive advantage, to cut costs or to comply with regulatory guidelines. When leading your team through process change you need to:

  • Persuade and prod people along through the use of documentation and positive examples.
  • Ensure that your team gets adequate training and support to help them to transition smoothly to the new way of doing things.
  • Always gather data that is relevant to the change objectives on before and after the transition.
  • Act as a role model or look for a team member to position as a role model for the team.
  • Recognise and reward good behavior during the change process.
  • Stop acting as your team’s manager, instead be their coach and mentor.
  • To be patient as learning new processes and tools can take time for your team to get used to.

Project Manager’s role during a corporate culture change.

Changing a corporate culture is more difficult than changing an organisational process. When organisations aspire to be more adaptive and innovative, they may seek a culture change. Changing a corporate culture requires a movement not a mandate. As a project manager always remember that a corporate culture change will fail if you decide to take a top-down approach. Even if you hold a high position of authority in the organisation, during a corporate culture change you can’t demand compliance or dictate optimism, trust, conviction or creativity.  Your role during this type of change involves:

  • Understanding the need for change and its rationale.
  • Involving your team or employees in the brainstorming activities of methods, techniques and behaviors that signify compliance.
  • Developing a plan that includes change objectives, explanations, communication and measurable goals.
  • Learning how success will be measured and sharing the information with your team.
  • Adopting a coaching style of leadership so as to teach and mentor your team.
  • Seeking assistance from those who have more experience in implementing corporate culture change.
  • Remembering that change is difficult and scary for some of your team members, therefore you need to balance rewards and discipline accordingly.
  • Always giving feedback and at the same time being open to receiving feedback from your team.

Always remember that although change is constant it will never be easy to implement and manage. Shifting your mindset from being just a project manager to being a change manager will help you be more successful in implementing change.

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