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Assembling the Change Management Team

Who you choose to join the change management team and how the team members work together will often determine the extent to which your change initiative achieves success. In putting a change team together, follow these steps:

  1. Review the change vision and the goals your organization needs to accomplish as a result.

  2. Based on the goals identified, determine what tasks your organization needs to accomplish in order to achieve each of the goals. Some overlap may occur, but it is best to identify each specific goal, which will give you a way to measure progress. This list of tasks will serve as a guide for team members and as a tool to show the project sponsor and stakeholders the degree of progress toward accomplishing the goals.

  3. Look at the tasks that your organization needs to accomplish and see how they fit together. For example, can they be categorized into tasks related to finance, marketing, engineering, information technology, manufacturing, or other specific areas?

  4. Meet with leaders from the functional task areas identified above and get input on the level of manpower needed to accomplish the identified tasks in the available time frame. This is also a good point for a reality check to see if leaders in these specific areas feel you have everything covered and if all tasks have been identified that need to be accomplished to achieve the change goals.

    Note that organizations sometimes work with external consultants who have expertise in these areas, as well as models and guidelines they apply to breaking down the project goals into tasks and necessary levels of manpower to achieve the goals within a defined period of time.

  5. Based on this input, build the requirements for the number and type of individuals needed on the team. Certain projects will require a core team, whose members stay throughout the project, and a secondary team comprising other individuals with specific expertise who join and leave the team as defined by the time line and phases identified. A core team starts with a project manager, someone who may have had some involvement in the preliminary analysis to consider the change project for feasibility. From there, based on the identified tasks, your organization can create roles and identify positions for members of the team.

    Usually, the core project team consists of the project manager, someone to track finances, and a liaison or liaisons to the various areas affected by the change. As the change project plan is executed, individuals with other backgrounds and skills may join and leave the team. For example, a thorough needs assessment would be conducted at the beginning of a project and require more project team members with skills in needs analysis and more time of members from the area being affected. At the end of a project, more actual day-to-day end users to test the new product, process, or technology would be needed to make sure all needs have been addressed. 

Here’s a list of desirable skills and attributes essential to particular members of the core project team.

Role

Skills and Attributes Desired

Things to Look For

Project Manager

• Ability to manage multiple tasks

• Ability to manage a group of diverse individuals

• Ability to track and keep on track the change initiative

• Ability to quickly build relationships with stakeholders

• Ability to motivate and effectively lead a team

• Past record

• Support from areas affected. Do they support the individual going into the project, and will they be consulted before the project begins?

• Skills in the subject matter area to be addressed

• Interpersonal skills required to work with a group in a project setting

• Previous leadership roles

Financial Analyst

• Ability to track expenses to a budgeted amount

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• Ability to do cost forecasting

• Knowledge of project financial reporting

• Previous change project work

• Experience in project budgeting and forecasting

• Contacts in the finance group that can help in the financial analysis area

• Previous work in cost analysis finance

Business Unit Liaison

• Ability to work with others in the business units

• Good working knowledge of the functional area to be worked with

• Ability to take user requirements and translate them into change project tasks

• Need to connect people—those who know information that can affect a project with those who need to know so they can change accordingly

• Previous change work experience

• Effectiveness of existing relationships within the business units

• Functional knowledge of subject areas as well as credibility in those areas

• Recommendations by stakeholders

Change Team Members

• Technical skills to get the work done

• People skills to get along with others on the team and in groups they need to work in

• Knowledge of the organization, its processes, and its functions

• Knowledge of how to get things done in the organization

• Past experience on change projects

• Reputation within the organization

• Motivation and interest in doing what it takes to be part of the project team

• Career goals and how they fit with work of the change project

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Editor's Note: This article is excerpted from 10 Steps to Successful Change Management , which outlines a step-by-step program for systematically building a change management strategy. The book includes insights, case studies, tools, and techniques to put you ahead of the change curve. You’ll learn how to:

  • develop a change management team and create supportive alliances
  • communicate your plans, take your vision from idea to action, and overcome challenges along the way
  • measure your success, review lessons learned, and build a culture of constant improvement.
About the Author
George Vukotich has specialized in change management throughout his career. As a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, he was involved in numerous training and leadership development initiatives. He also has extensive experience in the corporate and consulting fields with IBM, Arthur Andersen, Motorola, and BP, among others. Vukotich holds a PhD in organizational development, and is head of the graduate program in training and development at Roosevelt University in Chicago. He lives with his wife and two children in River Forest, Illinois.
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