Recruiting a change manager

Two co workers working together

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of work has undergone unprecedented levels of change. However, change is nothing new. Even before this crisis, organisations were pivoting products or services, introducing new digital tools, responding to disruptions and even transforming their workforce in response to the changing needs of customers and emerging technology. 

Now, as we transition into a new era of work, effective change management is recognised as a critical component in steering an organisation and its staff through change towards a competitive advantage.

Is it any wonder then that change managers have been, and will remain, in high demand? So, if you need to recruit a change manager, here’s what you need to look for.

What is change management? 

Before we examine the competencies that make a good change manager, let’s firstly review what change management involves. At its heart, change management is about people. It’s a structured approach that navigates an organisation’s people through changes designed to overcome challenges or improve performance to gain a competitive advantage. Change is a constant in today’s world of work, so it needs to be introduced in a way that ensures an organisation’s employees successfully transition and adapt. 

Such change could take the form of new technology, revised processes, adjusted job descriptions or even a new organisational structure. 

The job of a change manager therefore is to implement change in a way that effectively transitions an organisation’s employees to the new way of working. Naturally, this involves expert preparation and support. 

Typical change management job responsibilities 

A change manager role is critical to ensure an organisation’s response to change is appropriate, purposeful and meets impacted staff communication and engagement needs. Standard job responsibilities typically include:

  • Work with an organisation to conduct a change impact assessment
  • Complete stakeholder mapping activities
  • Manage relationships with business stakeholders who are providing change advice and support 
  • Develop and deliver the change management strategy 
  • Develop and deliver effective change and communication plans, ensuring the most effective communication channels are utilised 
  • Complete business readiness activities 
  • Conduct training needs analysis 

What to look for in your next Change Manager

If you’re looking to recruit an expert to manage change effectively in your organisation, your selection criteria should include the following:

Technical skills:

  • Change management methodologies: Candidates require a strong level of expertise in change management principles and techniques to devise a strategy that will lead to the adoption of the necessary changes. They should have a range of methods in their toolbox in order to be able to adapt the best approach for an organisation. 
  • Project management skills: While the job of a change manager is different to that of a project manager, the ability to be able to develop a change management plan is vital, as is an understanding of project management best practice. Candidates should understand how projects run in order to be able to support them. 
  • Industry-relevant expertise: Depending on your industry, additional technical skills may be required. For instance, in the financial services industry, integration and separation knowledge and regulatory and compliance experience are required. In IT, cloud migration, data or security expertise may be sought.

Soft skills:

  • Flexibility: Change managers require strong soft skills, starting with the ability to pivot their focus at a moment’s notice to address new critical issues. Changes can occur rapidly, so candidates must be able to respond just as quickly. 
  • Problem solving: Naturally, they must relish the opportunity to solve a problem rather than avoid challenges. This includes being able to identify the root cause of a problem.
  • Resilience: Change managers must demonstrate a high level of resilience. They must be able to quickly and effectively navigate through any challenge they face, rather than let stress overwhelm them.
  • Customer-focus: They must have a high sense of customer-centricity. There are times when a change manager must significantly alter how a business supports its customers. They must understand what the organisation’s customers need, then look for new and improved ways to deliver these. 
  • Strategic mindset: Change managers must take a holistic approach and see the bigger picture of where an organisation needs to get to and what steps must be taken to reach this goal. Successful organisational change management requires a candidate with strong business acumen to identify the right changes that will ensure the organisation gains a competitive advantage. 
  • Active listener: Good change managers have an ongoing dialogue with people at all levels of an organisation’s workforce. They really listen and take the pulse of a workforce to understand how people are feeling. This allows them to devise and offer the right support at the right time and, if necessary, amend plans accordingly. 
  • Foster a sense of trust: This skill is important as it allows a change manager to build a strong foundation of trust so that an organisation’s employees feel that the right decisions are being made and adequate thought has gone into the planning process. Ultimately, for a change to last, your employees need to trust that your change manager is doing the right thing. 
  • Communication: With this in mind, a change manager must have a clear communication plan in place to make sure the right information is getting to the right people in the right way at the right time. Uncertainty and ambiguity will only frustrate and confuse people, so change managers must communicate regularly to let employees know what’s going on and what the change really means to them in their day-to-day role.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Giving employees a role in the change process can create a collective responsibility for making sure the change sticks. Change managers therefore require strong stakeholder engagement skills to ensure that anyone who will be impacted by the change feels involved in the process.

In terms of training and certification, while Prosci and the ADKAR model remain the most widely recognised methodology in organisational change management, we have recently seen strong demand for change professionals with strong foundational knowledge in several methodologies. Employers value such candidates as they can apply their knowledge in a tailored approach that best suits an individual organisation’s needs.

The ability to alleviate change fatigue 

Finally, when you recruit a change manager it’s advisable to look for someone who can prioritise. Research has shown that change fatigue is a huge challenge and too much change can become overwhelming and tiring. 

As a result, it’s important for change managers to be able to step back and consider what must change now and what could be introduced later. In this way, change can be sustained. After all, if an organisation tries to do too many things simultaneously, the likelihood is that none of them will be truly successful.

If you would like to discuss your change management recruitment requirements, contact one of our recruiters. To find your next change management job, search here

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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