I was recently engaging with a Change Director and we were talking about the blurred lines in change.
She had experienced project consultants having high expectations from their change analysts, recruiters presenting Change Analysts as Change Managers and Change professionals looking to progress prior to having the necessary experience in their current role.
It got me thinking that some clarity could be of assistance, both for those looking to recruit in Change but also for people engaging with change professionals to benchmark their expectations. I spoke to Change expert and author Dr Jen Frahm to get her thoughts. In Part 1 of this 2 part blog series Jen gives definitions to Change Titles and delves into some of the key responsibilities that lie with each role.
How good is it when everyone knows who it is they are looking for and what the role is that you are applying for. AMAAAZING!! Cue heralds singing!! And yet curiously, it does not happen so often.
Clients ask for a change manager and think they will get some-one to lead the change.
They ask for change analyst who is also meant to do the change communications.
And somewhere along the line it gets really messy and everyone is unhappy – client, the candidate who is placed, and the recruiter involved. You know how it goes.
But as frustrating as it is, we need to hold out for role clarity in the recruiting process – and when I say ‘we’ I mean recruiters AND candidates. As a candidate it’s up to you to do due diligence and ask the interviewing managers / clients what they mean by the terms they use.
To help you along with that, here’s how I define the following terms. You’re welcome to use them or adapt to your experience.
These are line managers and senior managers who are prepared to actively and vocally sponsor, support and role model the changes associated with the system or process or behaviours you are introducing. Ideally, they should work alongside a change champion to ensure that the change champion is supported. In many companies, change leaders end up having the key success criteria of the change project built into their performance review. They are also integral in determining consequence management of the change – e.g. what happens when people work around the change or deliberately subvert the change.
The change sponsor is a formal role assigned to a steering committee (often known as a ‘steerco’). If your organization is using a formal project methodology you will most likely have a project sponsor (and in this case, this person is also the sponsor of the change). The change sponsor is ultimately accountable for change and keeps a close eye on the issues at hand and what it will take to remove barriers. A change sponsor should not be particularly involved in the day to day running of the change, but their attention will ramp up when things are getting tricky or challenging. A change sponsor should be seen as support and a facilitator, not some-one to please. Sometimes there is a lot of overlap between change sponsors and change leaders, but it is not uncommon to have one change sponsor and multiple change leaders in the business.
A change manager is the role assigned to the person who has responsibility for “managing” the successful implementation of a change and accelerating the benefits realization of the initiative. It can be project based or organizational in scope. They will most probably use a change methodology to inform their approach. A change manager develops a strategy (if one is not done), develops a change plan, designs the implementation of change and then executes on this design. They usually have a team to direct on this which consists of other change managers, change analysts, change communication consultants, and training managers and analysts, although you will find change managers who are very “hands on” and can do all of the work associated with a team. You get your best value when you bring them in at the beginning of the thinking about the change as it is much cheaper to design for a successful change than remediate a project that did not consider change management. A change manager is not the one who comes up with the change, nor are they expected to lead it. They make it happen and enlist the support of change leaders, change agents, change champions. They will often challenge and coach the leadership in what they intend doing on behalf of the people in the organization. It is a formal career path – and for more details on the attributes of a change manager see here.
A fantastic overview of some of the key roles in Change from Dr Jen Frahm which translates black and white from grey. In Part 2 Dr Jen Frahm will delve into the capabilities and responsibilities of a Change Communications Advisor and a Change Analyst. If you’d like to have a conversation to; clarify your requirements, discuss a career in change, want some advice on what level a role sits at or if you’d like to find out what you could be doing to help with a promotion to the next level then please give me a call. As a recruiter that specialises in Change, I would be happy to assist and would welcome a conversation with you.
About Dr Jen Frahm
Dr Jen Frahm is a globally recognised expert in organisational change and change management. Her change projects have included culture change, process change, digital transformation, legislative change, mergers and acquisitions and technology / systems change. She has a popular podcast Conversations of Change, and can be found on twitter @jenfrahm & https://conversationsofchange.com.au/dr-jen-frahm/