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(Mis)Understanding Change Management 101: Are you an IT Change Manager or a proper Change Manager?

Many Change Management professionals have faced this question; so have I. Not once. Many a time.

Are you an IT Change Manager or a proper Change Manager?

The reaction everyone displays upon hearing this question may vary. However, initially I used to get irritated with that question, and now – I guess with experience – I feel rather amused. These days when I hear this question, I wonder what level of understanding (or misunderstanding thereof) could the person asking this question might have!


Yes, Change Management compared to many other professions / disciplines is relatively a new discipline. But why do people ask this question? I can think of a few reasons. One, the people who ask this question either do not understand what change management is about or believe (wrongly of course) they understand Change Management properly. Two, they probably have been misled to believe by other people who at some stage have worked in a change role but themselves do not understand what a Change Manager does.

I have started to ask the people who have thrown the above question at me, i.e. whether I am an IT Change Manager or a proper Change Manager:

So what is your understanding of a proper Change Manager?

Surprisingly, the answers vary. But one thing is clear: the people who raise the said question themselves do not understand what Change Management is. However, instead of getting irritated, I now take a different approach. My mentor in Change Management used to say, ‘The two essential attributes of a Change Management professional are patience and resilience’. I now use easy to understand terms to discuss and explain what Change Management is. I find the easiest explanation is given by PROSCI®

Change Management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change.

However, I do not just read the description, I also explain them: an organisation can be changing for many reasons: it could be because of a new regulation, or because of a disruptive technology, or because of an organisational restructure, or many other reasons. Organisations implement those changes to arrive at a desired state (future state) from how things are occurring now (current state).

Change Managers are professionals who create the tools and provide guidance to the organisations to run the key pillars of change management: stakeholder management, communication, coaching, training, and managing resistance. By engaging the people of an organisation they contribute to minimising the feelings of uncertainty and fear, and maximising the speed of adoption.

Irrespective of the reason for the change, i.e. be it a new technology or be it an organisational restructure, the people in an organisation will ask this very basic question: what is in it for me (WIIFM)? That is where Change Managers add value. They use their expertise and insights and work closely with other professionals such as Project Managers and Business Analysts. Together they work with organisational leaders and employees to make sure the desired outcome is achieved.


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