I am always benchmarking what I teach in my Change Management Practitioner course to the real world needs of those that employ Change Managers. I thought you might enjoy this interview with a Director of Change Management about what he is looking for when he hires members of his Change Team.
What are the most important skills you look for?
I look for people with real engagement skills. They need to be able to build relationships right across the business because we are asking people to cope with change at all grades and in all functions.
That ability to build relationships comes from trust, and that comes in part from knowing what they are doing. I look for experience of a structured approach to stakeholder engagement. I want to know they have techniques and templates and they know the process they are going to follow. I want to know that they can tailor their message to different stakeholders not just by being a “people person” but using Impact Analysis so that their empathy is based on a true appreciation of how the business is going to have to change.
Looking wider than just the immediate effects
Effective Change Consultants can assess the impact but also think wider, appreciating who might be initially affected as well as identifying where other knock-on effects might be found. By sharing their insights they provide valuable content to those who design the new ways of working and they draw in those on the periphery who are important to take with us.
Are Change Management qualifications relevant?
I asked how important change management qualifications were in hiring for change roles and this manager was quite emphatic. They are very important for 2 reasons: the roles we are hiring for are Change Consultant and Senior Change Consultant and we need experts.
Change Managers not Project Managers
I don’t need Project Managers, I need Change Managers so when I see a change qualification on their CV it is an immediate indicator they know the difference between project and change management. We have people in the team who have been project managers but have made the transition, and can share their experiences of how different it is to manage a project versus bringing a change into being. I turned someone down for a job the other day because she was just too “projecty” -all her examples were about delivery and activities and things that had been completed and nothing about creating an environment to support engagement, buy-in, excitement etc.
Be an expert
The second reason is that I want people who can manage a change, so formal training in the fundamentals gives them techniques and structure so they can be a contributor to the team not a junior that we have to train up. Those we work with know their area of the business, they are senior managers who have little patience for ill-informed judgements. Everyone is busy and there is a pressure to get things done right first time. I think we are in a time when knowledge isn’t just power, knowledge is credibility and it is trust, and change management is all about trust.
In conclusion I asked the Director for any last thoughts, and as he knew I was writing this up, he wanted to say that change roles are in his opinion the most exciting in the business today. They offer a great opportunity to shape how an organisation behaves and what it achieves. These roles give us a chance to work in so many areas of a business and learn so much. His career advice is that if you get a chance to work on a change initiative, grab it with both hands.
If you are hiring for change roles, do you have any comments to add? If you are applying for change roles, did you find these comments helpful? As always, please share your comments.