Managing Change: As a Translator (Part 3)

This blog is the third in a three-part series exploring the various roles of a Change Manager, and follows the blogs on Managing Change: As a Coach and Managing Change: As a Friend.

Change Managers often find themselves caught between two sides; between the project and the business; between those driving the change, and those experiencing it. Successful change requires both groups to be aligned and working together. This is where change management plays an important role as a translator and mediator.

What are the best ways to play the role of translator in order to make change happen?

Watch your language

The project and the business will both come with their own ‘languages’. Does the business understand that “business requirements” are the businesses wants and needs from the solution, that a “change impact assessment” is the gap between the current and future ways of working, and that an “end user” is a person who uses the solution? Similarly, does the project understand the acronyms, technical terms and jargon of the teams they are impacting?

  • What does this look like? Translation. You need to learn both languages and work on bridging the gap between the groups. Ensure that your communications and training to your audiences (project, business or otherwise) have terms that everyone understands.

Think big picture

In the execution phase, sometimes we can get caught up in delivering our project plan rather than an outcome. Remember to step out of your day-to-day, think of the real outcome you are trying to achieve, and all the interdependencies and other activities that are likely happening in the organisation at the same time.

  • What does this look like? Anchor your messages and engagement in what the change will achieve for the business. Ensure this outcome is visible to the project team too: put it up on the wall in your workspace or look into a ‘strategic change canvas’. Link your benefits and key messages to the organisational strategy. Attend team meetings and town halls, read the newsletters and team social channels to discover what else is going on with those experiencing change. Work with other Change Managers to understand peak change periods and hot spots to help change fatigue.

Balance empathy and action

Change Managers often find themselves being the go-to for complaints or venting. Take this as an opportunity - build relationships and goodwill through empathy and help deliver the change that pushes towards the solution.

  • What does this look like? When working with your change network, ensure you don’t just go straight to solution mode or get defensive about the project. Take the time to listen and then recognise what your stakeholders are experiencing. Instead of taking on the problem yourself, or just suggesting one strategy, “nudge” your stakeholder in the right direction by asking deliberate questions.

Change Managers must balance many roles and qualities in order to deliver lasting, meaningful change. Effective change management requires not only a strong change management methodology, but also the right mindset and people skills to act as a Coach, Friend and Translator.

Click here and here to read the other blogs in this Change Manager series.