For anyone currently in a leadership role a range of skills, experience and capabilities are required to succeed in that role, and some are more important than others. But when you are managing complex organisational change there are certain skills that are absolutely vital to ensure the change delivers the expected benefits and changes the status quo for the better.
So let’s take a look at 3 key skills that are vital to a change management role and how you can develop and improve these skills for your own personal benefit and the benefit of your organisation.
Good communication skills are essential for all leaders and managers. You must be able to deliver the right information in the right way and at the right time – but, of course, also to the right people.
And communication is a two-way process so as well as disseminating information you also need to be able to listen effectively then absorb and understand what you hear.
Clearly then, communication is much more than just about speaking effectively or writing a concise status report. Good communication skills in a change management role are, in effect, facilitation skills to help deliver transformational change within an organisation.
Before your even decide on the methods of delivery you need to identify your audience and devise your message. Very often in a change management role your audience could be the whole organisation but the message needs to be different for people at different levels of seniority; or different for those who might be affected by the change in different ways.
Without effective communication it will be hard to overcome the natural human resistance often encountered when major organisational change is being implemented. Change management experts always advise focusing on the people most affected by a planned change and targeting communication to them to allay concerns and highlight the benefits of the proposed change.
Organisational change is most often implemented via one or more projects which will have gathered and analysed a wide range of data. These project data are useful to change managers but they will also need additional data that looks at data beyond the scope of most projects.
For instance, the culture of an organisation is often firmly embedded in the workforce and their day-to-day working lives (especially in well-established companies). Yet a change initiative can require a complete change in behaviours and even a new mindset for a new business vision to be realised.
So those managing change may need to assess, understand and then change deep-seated cultural behaviours. This can best be done through focus days and workshops. However, you may also need to gather and analyse data concerning current skillsets to identify skills gaps and then arrange the appropriate training courses for employees.
Good analytical skills will ensure that the right training and support can be identified and provided to ensure people are willing and able to grasp the opportunities that major organisational change can bring.
Risk Management Skills
Major organisational change will always be risky so leaders involved in managing change need to also be adept at risk management. You will first need to identify the risks that could occur and assess the likelihood of any one or more risks occurring. You will then need to understand the impact of those risks and plan mitigating strategies that take account of budget and time constraints. Finally you will need to implement those strategies should the risks occur.