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A Change Manager is a developing role, with a wide interpretation.

Who are Change Managers?

This is the summary of my presentation at the Project Challenge expo in Birmingham. The subject was the role of the Change Manager.

I began by explaining that Change Manager is a developing role, with a wide interpretation. A quick search of the members list of the Change Management Institute UK came up with the following job titles that our members, all change professionals, are known by at work:

  • Communications Manager
  • Director of People
  • Employee Engagement Manager
  • Relationship Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Line Manager
  • Programme Manager
  • Customer Experience Lead
  • Business Analyst
  • Business Transformation Manager
  • Team Leader
  • Head of PMO

I am lucky because I was given my favourite ever job title recently – Chief Persuasion Officer – which I think sums up the role beautifully!

Role confusion

At CMI's London conference, one of the discussion threads was what should change management professionals be called because there is so much confusion over the role. Perhaps not surprising as we are a young industry.

I remember when project management was going through its growth spurt in the early 2000s. in the late 1990s organisations viewed project management as the way to achieve their goals. They started appointing people to formally lead pieces of work that had not previously been called projects but as project management was becoming fashionable, nearly everything became a project so we had to have more project managers. As we hired more project managers the number of people becoming qualified in project management grew exponentially.

I see many parallels between then and now, the only difference is that we accept the role of Project Manager as the norm now, and have a good understanding of what it means. We are not there yet with the Change Manager role, but that day is coming.

So as the Co-Chair of the Change Management Institute UK I represent a very broad church. The Change Management Institute doesn’t have a singular definition of the role of Change Manager. This is in common with the market place where there is wide range of interpretations of the role which are worth understanding:

Strategic perception of the role – in this case there is an expectation that the Change Manager will build the internal capability for managing change, so there are strong links to the world of best practice and methodologies and training and development of staff

Transformation perception of the role – the role of Change Manager is wider than a single change. This interpretation of the role is closer to Programme Manager and involves identifying and managing multiple strands of change together to achieve a significant shift in the business model

Change perception of the role – this is about managing a single change, perhaps as the result of a project, or managing change for a defined group of staff or customers

Instead of the definition of the Change Manager role the CMI has a really useful competency model that outlines the skills and abilities that someone able to define, plan and lead change should have

It’s a great help if you are reviewing your own CV or are trying to write a job description for a role you are hiring as it provides useful descriptions of what is required by the role.

Written by Melanie Franklin

Twitter: @agilemelanie