How to Secure Your Future as a Change Manager

There are many natural change leaders who are not managers, let alone change managers. They influence change in organic ways and are instrumental to the success of change projects. On the other hand, those who typically resist change significantly contribute to poor outcomes.

There is talk, especially in the wake of Covid-19, that we are all change agents and, to some extent, change leaders. After all, we have all had to adapt to crisis and we are all required to adapt to disruptive change. Some have gone as far as to say that the field of change management is dead or no longer relevant, because we should all be able to adapt to change without any assistance from change professionals.

Well, not so fast.

Here are 3 reasons why you as a change manager deserve your place as a respected professional. We will look at a fourth reason soon, but let’s first consider these:

  • You are valuable because you have specialist knowledge and training based on over 70 years of research into how to manage change. We might all be change agents, but that doesn’t mean we are all equally knowledgeable or experienced in managing change projects. Your knowledge and expertise has been developed and handed down over decades, and it is a very valuable asset. Others would do well to respect that.
  • You are valuable because it is not only your knowledge, skills, and experience that is valuable. What is even more valuable is your ability to apply and adapt that knowledge to any situation. This is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. You know how to take the tools of your profession and apply them to different circumstances – something that is both art and science. That makes you valuable to any organisation.
  • You are valuable because you’re a change management professional by choice. You’re not a generic ‘change agent’ just like everyone else. No, you chose to develop skills and knowledge in this field. In some way, it reflects who you are as a person. It is that ‘fit’ that makes you valuable.

Change managers should be confident and bold in this time of crisis and disruptive change, recognising you are uniquely placed to play a pivotal role in the future of business and society.

However, a word of caution. As professionals, we rightly take pride in who we are and the value of what we do. But what makes us valuable is not directly what makes us successful.

We are valuable because we have specialist knowledge, we take that knowledge and apply it across situations, and because this profession captivates us. But we are successful because stakeholders change how they think and how they behave, and they do so within the designated limits of the project.

So, your value is directly associated with you, but your success is dependent on others. You want to be a successful change manager, but the change limitations of your stakeholder group may be the major thing standing in the way of success.  If you want to increase your value to any organisation, I suggest you deepen your understanding of what happens when people change and what they need to keep moving forward towards success. 

People and change. I believe that if you truly want to improve your professional status, the best thing you can do is to improve your understanding of what empowers people to succeed at change.

That is much easier said than done. But you are not alone and we can help you.

Let me tie together what I am saying in this article. There are two bodies of knowledge. One relates to how people manage change. Key thinkers in this area are people like Kurt Lewin and John Kotter. This is what is taught in most change management courses.

The other body of knowledge relates to the psychology of change and what makes people successful (or unsuccessful) at it.  This is a much newer field of study and is also less known. It is usually not taught adequately (or even at all) in most change management courses.

The brightest future for change managers lies in combining these two bodies of knowledge. When you do that, you have the power to understand and influence not only what you do as a manager, but also what stakeholders do. This gives you greater control over change outcomes.

And that also sets you further apart from all those generic ‘change agents’.

This is a complex area and you will certainly need some help getting to where you need to be. But if you want to learn more about it and secure your future as a leader in the change management space, reach out to me and let’s have a chat.

Written by Steve Barlow