Project Managers- 5 Things to Know About Change Practitioners

Project managers, thanks to the addition of the change management consultant line item, are getting a taste of change management and switching from a competitive to a cooperative approach. Many organizations have, smartly, realized these are two different roles with two different skill sets. (Yes many can do both roles or exchange roles but these two do not make for a good SINGLE role within any major project- and certainly not for any kind of program or initiative)

5 things for PM’s to think about

  1. We do not want your job.
    Or your particular influence, or any of your particular power.
    You want to get things done, check off the list, accomplish. We want to do things right, consider people and business and create solutions (end states) that last. That is a perfect combination. We can be partners. Either as right hand people for your role, when we are brought in middle-of-the-organization, to  guide you in your implementation strategy OR as valuable liaisons to the owner, leaders and influencers when we contract higher up than your hierarchical placement. Fight with us for power (which we care little about) and you are wasting a valuable resource.
  2. We have a different measure of success.
    On time and budget are your usual measures.
    How often do you depart and the budget goes out the window from mistakes, missteps and errors? We, change practitioners, can give you some answers. We come in before, after, during and in and out. We see a lot (and we tend to be asked to fix a lot). What if you got the reputation of not only satisfying your time and budget measures, but also leaving solutions and infrastructure pieces that sustain your work? You might even get credit for building the foundation for the next project/change/solution.
  3. We don’t jump to take credit for things.
    Get on the good side of a CM and you might find lots of your checklist items getting satisfied with much less input and work from you.
    We rarely look for credit for accomplishments because we think well into the future. We are gone before our true work is visible. You should leverage this both to get credit and to create credit from our work. If you see that connection we will help you.
  4. We see well into the future.
    Your focus is the things that need to happen to complete this project. Our focus is on the environment and scenario after your role is over. We move backwards from that end state to gauge what needs to happen, be added and be accomplished. We both want the same things, in some ways, we just come at it from different angles and directions. If you understand that and leverage it, nasty mistakes can be avoided. Or look at it this way, our measure of risk is different than yours- and a valuable addition to your work.
  5. We focus first on people.
    You focus on ROI, business results, metrics.
    We are being asked, more and more, to be both business AND people experts (business process, organizational capability, job roles, competency measures tied to strategy are now solid pieces of my own resume- not change specific). Your biggest risk, always, is people. Either the motivation of people or the lack of resources. We fully understand how that makes your role difficult and we like tackling that difficulty.

So project managers or PMO’s as a whole, if you are waging a battle against the power levers you have or might fell slipping away, stop, take a breath. At least from an external perspective (those employed next to you may be on a different mission) we are looking for many of the same things you are in terms of work, strategy, tactics and results.

Change Practitioners (the good ones anyway) do not want your job, measure success differently, don’t take credit for things, see the future and focus on people. All five of those thing can be very helpful for you if you switch from competition to cooperation.

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