We’ve already written about the nine pillars of change management, but now we want to turn some attention to change management skills, or namely the aptitudes you need to manage change on both a personal level and when leading a team.
This is a big moment for change management skills, because a lot is currently changing about work. If companies decide on hybrid models, that has massive implications for what skills managers need day-to-day, but also what change management skills they need -- because it’s harder to move a distributed workforce to new end goals than it would be a workforce where everyone sits in the same general area.
There’s more interaction and communication needed for hybrid teams, and as we’re about to see, communication skills are a huge subset of change management skills.
The numbers do vary on change management success rates, but one statistic you see often is that 70% of change management initiatives fail. Seems like a massive failure rate, but if you’ve ever been part of a change management initiative, you know it’s very reasonably true -- change management is super hard, because moving dozens to hundreds (to maybe thousands) of individuals to the same end state when they all have different emotional connections and incentives around work is like turning around an oil tanker in a narrow strait. It can be done, but it’s not happening anytime soon, and it won’t go well for a while.
How can we make change management better, then? What change management skills should we be fostering and developing in people?
Let’s start with one bucket of ideas:
When we speak of change management skills in the context of a change management practitioner, that usually -- not always, but usually -- refers to someone working within the vocation/industry of change management. The change management skills for a practitioner are a mix of hard and soft skills, so a bit more technical, but with a focus on communication as well. Some of the more common skills for a change management practitioner include:
When you talk about being a change management practitioner, then, you need a mix of soft skills that anyone involved in change management would need -- such as the ability to communicate clearly about what’s happening with different initiatives and timelines -- but you also need a technical rooting in project management and other methodologies that your organization might embrace. If your organization is highly committed to “Lean,” for example, they’re not likely to let someone work as a change management practitioner unless they’re very well-versed in “Lean” as well.
Innovation is one secret ingredient that makes a difficult, painstaking change move from impossible to easy. There is often a better way, but too often, leaders bulldoze forward without looking for more innovative and creative options. The leader need not personally be highly innovative. There is a big difference between being innovative and supporting innovation by others. Often someone in your organization or network has a brilliant idea that will make change much easier, faster and less painful. They need your backing and sponsorship.
Unpacking that quote a little bit, people in leadership roles need to think about change management skills along these prisms:
In addition to fostering innovation, Zenger Folkman’s other four core change management skills are: Acting quickly, Maintaining a strategic perspective, Cultivating an outside perspective, and Inspiring those on your team. Consider this visual:
When they looked at data from 90,185 leaders whose direct reports were asked to indicate their level of confidence that the organization would be successful, it turned out that leaders who had above average skills on the five behaviors also had direct reports who scored at the 70th percentile regarding their confidence that the organization would be successful. Leaders who had none of the five skills that were above average had success scores at the 33rd percentile.
That’s a strong endorsement for the development of change management skills.
This is an important topic, because a lot of companies will jump right to tracking documents and deadlines and general process points, as opposed to thinking through the bigger strategy and the end goals of a change management initiative. The reality of a team enacting change is that you need both process-driven change management skills, such as project management backgrounds, and you need higher-level change management skills, such as advanced communication and strategic vision. If a team is all process-oriented, the end result will not achieve a grand vision. If a team is all focused on bigger strategy, then some of the execution-level work that needs to get done may fall by the wayside. You need both.
The best approach is usually to create a change management sub-section, perhaps within or under “Skills,” and list high-level change management skills, such as “Effective communication at advanced levels,” as well as more technical skills and certifications around project management and different work methodologies. Cluster it all together so that a recruiter or hiring manager can see you have a large chunk of change management skills.
Our programs were designed by world-renown coaches, and sessions only take 5-15 minutes. Get started for free with personalized program now by chatting in the box below:
Our expert coaches have designed hyper-effective programs that will help
you develop your change management skills in 15-minutes a week.
Coach Marlee (your amazing AI-powered personal coach) will analyse your unique traits and goals to let you know which program to start with (and if there are any you should skip)!
Your recommended programs include:
Inspire yourself and others to see the bigger picture! Increase your comfort and use of abstract and strategic thinking to coach amazing outcomes at work and in life. Big picture thinking is especially helpful for inspiring others for innovation, impactful communication, focus on key priorities and aligning teams with clarity and purpose.
Inspire yourself and others to see and achieve grand visions and goals. A focus on goals is especially helpful for inspiring others, impactful communication, maintaining focus over time, and aligning teams with clarity and purpose.
Become an amazing coach by trusting the experience and genius within others. During this eight week program Coach Marlee will help you to develop a genuine appreciation for experimentation and data and a willingness to empower the opinions, feedback and insights from within your team and others in your life.
In this high impact eight week program Coach Marlee will help increase your comfort and confidence to be in positions of influence and leadership, embrace your role as a high performance coach and also help you inspire others at the top of your industry or field.
Develop ‘step back’ mastery for increased self-awareness and coaching mindsets and tools for constant improvement. Reflection and patience is core to consolidating learning, development, strategic thinking, recharging and living an authentic and meaningful life.
In this high impact nine week program Coach Marlee will help you to increase your self leadership and general wellbeing while also helping you to break through self sabotage, develop life long skills for emotional resilience and self-esteem, all crucial skills for sustaining high performance coaching. Enjoy weekly cutting edge science backed wellbeing resources from Blisspot.
“Marlee helped me to work on my self-belief”
“Awesome and effective coaching program of helping to increase motivation for goal challenged people. Fallen in love with goals and looking forward to more BHAGs. Highly recommend the coaching for GoalCatcher!”
“As an engineer, I never thought about doing a retro with my family. This has been cool.”
“Marlee helped me to work on my self-belief”
"Marlee really helped me to understand how to cue in on body language and tone when speaking with others, in order to connect on a deeper level"
“The only way to move ahead is to work out the next action and then schedule a time to do it!”
“I learned to make real progress, take action, review”
“This was a good reflection and trigger to make the decision that I was pondering!”