New to Change Management? (Part 1 - Three essential things you need)
We've put together a list of some key pointers that we think you may find useful - these are displayed below. But we believe that the very best way to find out more about change management is to have a discussion with someone that has been working in the field for some time. You may already know someone that you'd prefer to chat to, or alternatively you are most welcome to contact us. One of our senior colleagues will be delighted to spend some time with you on the phone, or if it is possible even to meet with you to share our experience and perspectives over a cup of coffee or tea .
1. An appropriate qualification:
Ideally you should have an appropriate tertiary qualification (typically in in the social sciences). While there are many good change managers who do not have social science qualifications, or indeed in some instances do not have any formal tertiary qualifications, having an appropriate qualification (diploma or degree) is a significant advantage: Firstly, a social science qualification would tend to provide you with significant foundational knowledge and understanding. Of course, if you have one or even more advanced degrees or diplomas, so much the better. Secondly, it is much easier to compete for a job (or a consulting deployment) with an appropriate degree. Finally, the field of change management is increasingly becoming formalised - it would not be surprising if, at some point in the future, more specific professional requirements emerge (as with law, medicine or engineering). Best then, if you are planning to set out in a career in change management, that you plan your tertiary studies or continuing studies accordingly.
2. Change management training:
As an entry point, you need to learn the very basics of change management - definitions, underlying principles, one or more typical frameworks, and some basic guidelines. You should complete one of the recognised introductory training courses - these are typically between 3-5 days in duration (more detail about this further down). You should then plan to follow up on your introductory training by completing more advanced courses (e.g. in facilitation skills, collaborative whole system change methods, communication, etc.).
We think, at present, there are two introductory change management training courses that we should recommend to new entrants in the change management field - these are the two courses that we would typically also recommend for our ChangeWright interns who are relatively new to the field:
The Prosci course (offered by one of our prime competitors in the area of change management training, but hey, we are not just trying to push our own products here, we are really trying to give you what we think is the best advice possible).
3. Relevant experience:
This is probably the most difficult one - in order to get experience, you need to get into a change management position somewhere. But the requirements for most change management positions include at least 1-2 years' experience for even the most junior positions. If you are employed at a large organisation and opportunities for this do exist, you may be able to arrange exposure to change management work by being seconded into this role on a part-time basis, or if you are lucky, even be appointed full-time in a more junior change management position. If such opportunities do not exist, trying to secure a change management role somewhere else often requires that you resign from your current job and work as an intern, at relatively low pay (quite possibly even less than what you were used to earning). If you are a newly qualified entrant to the job market, it can be a bit easier, for intern-level change management salaries are competitive with salaries of many other entry-level positions. But there are a lot of applicants, and relatively few positions. This is where a tertiary qualification, and preferably one or more post-graduate qualifications, will help to differentiate you.