Why Change Pros MUST Know These Four Different Perspectives of Change

It’s vital for change managers to not only focus on users throughout their change project. If you want successful sustainable business change that sticks, you must engage these four distinct groups properly.

 

If we think of change management as the people side of change then we can't afford to think of just the users impacted by that change. 

As change managers, we’re at the centre of many moving parts and it’s our job to ensure everyone is working together, NOT working in opposition. 

Get your engagement across these four groups right, and the odds of your change project being a success rises by a massive 83 percent

When you look at it like that, can you afford to ignore these perspectives of change?

 

The four different groups you must engage if you want to create successful and sustainable change:

 

sun landing on mountain tops from behind clouds

1. The Project Managers

  • Project managers generally define success as delivering outputs according to a certain cost, timeline and quality. 
  • They are all about the deliverables, and not necessarily about how those deliverables land or the user experience. 
  • They spend a lot of time analysing things and not a lot of time speaking to people. 
  • Their happy zone (by and large) is the planning zone. 
  • Project managers generally care about metrics, for example, the number of workshops delivered to schedule; change managers care more about whether those workshops have delivered the right results.
  • Your job is to explain the importance of mindset, behaviours and monitoring where people are on their journey of change rather than just the outputs generated.

 green leaves on tree branch in sunlight almost transparent

2. The Sponsors 

  • Highly invested in the strategy behind the change project. 
  • Generally very optimistic before they hand it over to the project team.
  • Invested in success and assume everyone will love the change, but mostly haven't spoken to anyone else about it to know for sure.
  • Should be visible in the awareness stage of the project when they're talking about the change that’s coming; and later on in the implementation stage when talking about progress. They resist this because they know that as soon as they tell people about their genius idea, they hear all the reasons it won’t work.
  • Sponsors may not want to be transparent, authentic and honest about what isn't working, preferring to stick to a party line which does not make them very attractive.
  • Your job is to be clear about expectations and boundaries about how the sponsor will show up at certain times and places and to encourage transparency and authenticity from them.

trees together either side of a lane

3. The Key Stakeholders

  • Can make or break a change project and have power of process, resources and influence.
  • Want to ensure that if anything changes, it's ok for their area. 
  • They’re protective. Their natural instinct is not to work through it, but to back off.
  • Tension between sponsors and key stakeholders is often played out around the boardroom which is unhelpful for the project. 
  • Purists say stakeholder management belongs to the project manager. For effective relationships where you can unpick problems together, you must engage properly.
  • Your job as the change pro is to make sure the sponsor and key stakeholder are aligned. Don't leave them to thrash it out themselves; ensure the key stakeholder feels as close as they need to to your project. 

 two birds on a rock looking over mountains

4. The Subject Matter Experts 

  • Invested in the status quo.
  • They know how to do business as is and aren’t keen on change.
  • Want to to have a significant voice in changes.
  • Think they have more knowledge than you.
  • Want to be consulted on the problem, solution and implementation. 
  • Your job is to build a trusting relationship so they can rely on you to not undermine their position.

Engaging with these four groups – as well as the User – means as change managers you’ll get the wider perspectives needed to deliver successful, suitable change every time.


Are you a change manager struggling to balance communication between these four groups? My upcoming coaching and training series, Making Change Stick, dives deep into all these perspectives and will show you how to unpick conflict between them. Join us: https://change.oakwoodmanagementconsulting.com/

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