A Manager's Role within Change Management
Managers are essential to effective business and to effective change management. They are often the first person employees look to for advice, support and direction whenever a significant change is launched. Yet only 34% of organisations adequately prepare Managers for their role in leading change, according to Prosci.
Everyone wants to know how adopting this change will directly affect them, their team and their role, so they go to their Manager for the answers. It is natural that in this period, immediately after a change is announced, a lot of questions, opinions, ideas and concerns are raised by employees who are trying to understand the change. Common questions such as-
- What’s in it for me?
- Will I have to make compromises?
- How can I get involved?
- Who can tell us more?
Line managers are critical as they must share information about the business reasons for a change and possess the knowledge to correctly answer queries about the impacts of the change for all of their team members. If Managers cannot answer the question correctly with confidence they need to feel they can ask the change management team supporting them in the implementation of the change.
Managers are not only dealing with communications, they must ensure that the ‘day-to-day’ running of the department remains as seamless as possible during change. In the vast majority of change implementation employees will be expected to carry on business as usual despite having to familiarise themselves with any new technology or processes. As the Line Manager is at the centre of the team they understand, better than anyone, how the change will directly impact not only specific processes but how this will change the working dynamic of the team. The Manager is therefore responsible for ensuring the plans are locally adapted if they risk putting critical team deliverables or deadlines in jeopardy.
In Prosci's Best Practices report, the following were identified as the most important actions for Managers to take in the change process:
- Communicate with direct reports about the change
- Demonstrate support for the change
- Coach employees through the change
- Engage with and provide support and data to the project/change team
- Identify and manage resistance
To complete these actions - their responsibilities - Managers must possess and/or be taught the appropriate skills.
Strong communication skills are essential to ensure employees accurately understand the reasons for the change and make a decision to participate as quickly as possible, without unnecessary confusion. Effective communication is very much a 2-way process though and so Managers must also be good listeners if they are to successfully diagnose and manage resistance.
Leadership from the Manager must be shown, to ensure that employees who are reluctant to adopt change will follow the example of their Manager in doing so.
Liaison is an important Manager skillset, critical to enable the two way flow of questions and answers required between the Manager and the Change team, so that natural employee concerns are addressed promptly, correctly and efficiently.
CMC Partnership Global can help equip Managers with the skills and techniques to not only deal with the impact of change on themselves, but also effectively coach employees through change to deliver successful transformations. To understand better the foundational aspects of change management and the critical role Managers play in the change process please register for our free 1-hour webinars, and progress your skills further with our private programme specific to Line Managers - Prosci Manager Coaching Programme.