New to Change Management? (Part 3 - Change management can be very rewarding)

The stuff that seems a bit overwhelming initially - the frameworks, terminology, methodologies, techniques and tools, all tends to fade into the background and become less visible over time. A bit like driving a car - initially, you are VERY conscious of all of the operations you have to perform, but as time passes, it becomes so ingrained that you hardly even think about the mechanics of driving. But it is good to get the foundation and the mechanics well sorted and RIGHT before your driving style becomes a habit that you are hardly conscious of - just as there are are some drivers out there who never learnt to drive properly, and allowed their incompetence to settle into unconscious bad habits that are a liability to themselves and others, there are change practitioners out there who took shortcuts, have huge gaps in their knowledge and experience, and survive by staying just a few pages ahead of their clients in the latest flavour-of-the-month management how-to book. Even if the opportunity presents, try to avoid the shortcuts. Faking your way from meeting to meeting is probably not a good way to spend a big chunk of your adult life.

Rather pay your dues by working as a more junior member of a change team on a few big projects, doing whatever you need to to make the project work, and learning all the way. Get the training, read the books, and find good people to work with. Learn how to do all of the small things (how to put together an effective meeting agenda, build a good PowerPoint presentation, put together a project plan, develop and send out a stunning e-mail newsletter, etc. ) as you learn how to do the big things (deal with resistance, engage stakeholders effectively, facilitate large-group sessions, support and enable effective change leadership, etc.).

If you work hard, learn from your successes and your mistakes and always strive to do what you said you would (meet deadlines, among other things) there is every chance that you will make rapid progress, and become a solid change manager. In our firm, it takes just a few years to advance from an intern to a mid-level change manager. There is (and we think always will be) a strong demand for qualified, effective change facilitators. So it follows that the pay will be good, but that's only a small part of the reward: Working as part of a committed team to bring about some desired future, and playing a key role in the eventual success of a major transformation is a wonderfully uplifting experience. And you don't need to limit yourself to corporate change - there are massive socio-economic challenges that will require effective change management throughout the world, and nowhere more so than in Southern Africa.

We wish you well in your potential change management career!