What Makes a Good Transformation Manager?

transformation Mar 21, 2019
Many change programmes fail to deliver a successful and sustainable outcome due to unrealistic expectations, a top-down “just do it” approach and a solution that can’t deliver the impact that was envisaged. Good interim contractors or external consultants can resolve some of these issues but typically will lack the context needed to be really successful.

Instead, there needs to be transformation manager in place within the company with the right skills and experience and an understanding of the business. This allows future issues to be anticipated before they occur and will help keep the change programme on track when problems arise.

Specifically, organisations should be looking for someone with the following qualities:

Skills, skills, skills

Problem solving, lateral thinking, innovative thinking: transformation managers are frequently required to find solutions to challenges. This means taking indirect and creative approaches that allow issues to be viewed a new and unusual light; and being able to think beyond the norm, without being constrained by what is currently done or thought to be possible.

Likewise, effective communication is crucial if consensus is to be built. This requires transformation managers to have empathy – the ability to understand lots of different points of view; to be transparent and to communicate clearly, honestly and without “spin”.

Context is king

Skills are one thing, knowledge of the company where the change is being implemented is another. Indeed, it could be argued that this latter quality is more important than the first.

Why? An understanding of organisational context, relationships with the key players, knowledge of the internal politics which can influence decision-making – all of this improves the transformation managers ability to achieve results.

How? This contextual knowledge means that responses can be predicted, solutions can be tailored to specific needs and, crucially, having relationships with people on the ground means it’s possible to know how they are really feeling at a time when they may otherwise be more reserved or polite.

Skills can be learnt; attitude can’t

Attitude is everything. How transformation managers behave and respond to issues can mean the difference between failure and success.

Top of the list of qualities to look for include an eagerness to listen and learn, particularly an enquiring mind about what works and what doesn’t; and a willingness to find out how people feel.

Following this is persistence and resilience. In any successful transformation, there will always be mistakes made and things not working as they should. A good transformation manager will not let these failures get in their way; instead they will find and try a different approach.

Additionally, a desire to co-create and build understanding, solutions and implementation methodologies in partnership with colleagues rather in isolation is a must.

Are they experienced?

Counter to popular belief, it is not necessary for a transformation manager to have run change projects before, or indeed to have run any project. And they certainly don’t need to have been a management consultant.

However, it is useful to have worked on a project before – of any kind – and to have continuously improved something that wasn’t working very well.

Finally, it may be a buzzword at the moment, but diversity also has an important role to play. Experience in working with a diverse set of people certainly, and also in relation to their own background. People with different backgrounds to the norm bring new perspectives to the table, something that can help you avoid group think, problem-solve more quickly and innovate more effectively.

Coming soon! A new support solution to help you provide everything your transformation team needs to generate successful, sustainable and self-sufficient projects. If you want to get ahead of the game, get in touch and we can have a chat about your requirements ahead of the launch.


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