In Change Management, People Skills

Change management - The Effective Change Manager's HandbookThe updated change management certification was launched 3 months ago. I recently wrote a blog for APMG International containing some reflections and observations from running this course with 6 very different groups, and I’d like to share these with you too.

Delegates have told us that the two key things that make this course so valuable are also what make it challenging, and able to really stretch people as they build their confidence with the new materials. These are:

  • It covers a broad expanse of best practices and change management theory, as it is based on what professional change managers need to know and do to embed lasting change
  • It offers practical tools, techniques and checklists – without being too prescriptive or setting out a pre-defined method for managing change

There’s a lot of knowledge and tips within this course! Delegates say it can seem daunting when they first receive their copy of The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook, the source book for this qualification. That’s when it really hits home that this is going to be an intensive course – it’s really important to prepare well by completing the recommended pre-course study.

The content covered aligns with the Body of Knowledge for Change Management (CMBoK) – based on several years of research from the Change Management Institute. It incorporates topics from different disciplines such as organisational development, the social sciences, and project and programme management.

The course covers both the people skills, and the process or delivery aspects of change. From the people perspective, it looks at what causes resistance and anxiety, and describes motivation theories for supporting individuals through change. The course also shows how different types of organisational cultures emerge and can be propagated.

There is a fairly equal mix between change management theory, and practical tools and ideas. The more practical elements of the course include:

  • Assessing the impact of change
  • Getting ready for change
  • Developing stakeholder management strategies
  • Communication and engagement
  • Reinforcing and sustaining change

Typically, delegates have said they enjoy and get a lot of benefit from the practical aspects and exercises. They see that there are a lot of theories and models to learn, which can feel heavy going at times, but they recognise that knowing the theory helps them understand how the practical bits come into play and how best to apply them. It builds a solid foundation of change management know-how and equips people with a rich toolkit for managing change. They can draw on the wide range of tools, techniques and checklists as needed, for whatever type of change that comes up.

The course intentionally does not lay out a prescriptive set method, instead it offers a high-level framework that can be adapted. The nature of change can vary so much, along with the complexity triggered when dealing with people impacted by change. So it just isn’t practical to try and manage every change in the same set way. It depends on factors such as the type of change, the culture that you’re working in, the wider organisational context and constraints, the extent of the impact on people and so on.

At times it’s tempting to look for a set method or process to follow – ’tell me what to do and I’ll do it’. Especially when there is so much to do and tight deadlines are looming, or when people have been used to working in very structured, process-oriented environments. The wide-ranging change topics can all seem a bit ’loose’ and unstructured at first. It’s not until day three or four of the course, that all the pieces start to slot into place and the bigger picture becomes clear.

Every course is different because people bring their own stories – which enrich discussions and add deeper insights to the material. It’s people’s contributions and sharing of their experiences that makes these courses such a rich learning experience for us all.

When I first started on this journey I had no ideas what I was letting myself in for. From being a part of the team who wrote the change management body of knowledge, then contributing to The Effective Change Manager’s Handbook and using that to produce this version of the certification – it has been both daunting and exhilarating along the way. I thought the journey finished 3 months ago, when this course was launched, but that’s not the case at all. The more I work with this material, the more I appreciate the richness of it. So the journey is still very much on-going.

If you would like to join me on the journey, the next course is running 21st – 25th September.

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