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ROLES IN CHANGE MANAGEMENT


Roles played in a change management process at different levels.


By Ruth Tearle


To get the support they need, each role player in change management needs to play a role which is appropriate to his/her level of skill, political power, and the requirements of the organization.

There are many different names given to the roles played by people working within change management. These include change manager, change consultant, OD manager, OD consultant, change lead, change agent, change analyst, change implementer, change specialist, head of change management or leader of the change management department, leader of a center of excellence, manager of change managers, and change or OD integrator.

Sometimes all these titles can be confusing – both to project managers and clients, as well as to people working inside of a change management department.

change-masterI am often asked for a description of the major roles played by people working in a change management department. This article describes the three most important roles played within change management. In smaller departments, these three roles may be played by a single person, or a small team. In larger organizations, these roles may be divided amongst hundreds of consultants - each specializing in a particular area.


The leader of a change management department.

This role can be played by an individual, a team or a steering committee. Some of the responsibilities associated with this role include:

  • Building the credibility of the change management function within the organization.
  • Crafting a vision, strategic plan, structure and brand for change management within the organization.
  • Developing supportive relationships with key stakeholders. Ensuring all role players in change support one another.
  • Managing the dept like an internal consultancy.
  • Integrating all the changes being done within the organization – so that they support one another and the organizations’ strategy.
  • Providing standardized tools, training, processes and political support to change managers, consultants and change agents.

Detailed job profile of a leader. (Member guide)

See all of the:

  • Roles played by the leader of a change management department.
  • Actions associated with each role.
  • Skills the leader would need to have to perform these actions.

Become a member.


The change manager or consultant.

The change manager or consultant is responsible for an entire change. This change could be managing the people side of a project involving many regions and divisions, cascading a new vision or values throughout the organization, or changing the organizational culture.

Responsibilities of a change manager or consultant include:

A change manager or consultant plans, implements and manages an entire change for a particular client.
  • Diagnosing and determining the scope of a change or intervention.
  • Developing a change management strategy with key stakeholders.
  • Overseeing the implementation of the change strategy.
  • Getting buy-in from sponsors and key stakeholders.
  • Training key role players to implement or support the change
  • Managing relationships with other support divisions…

Detailed job profile of a change manager or consultant. (Member guide)

See all of the:

  • Roles played by a change manager or consultant.
  • Actions associated with each role.
  • Skills the change manager would need to have to perform these actions.

Become a member


The Change Agent.

A change agent or champion is responsible for implementing a single change in a single department, branch or division. The change agent's responsibilities include:

  • Facilitating mini workshops or communication sessions with employees in his area.
  • Coaching employees in his area in the skills they need to support the change.
  • Helping employees to solve problems related to the change.
  • Acting as a communication channel between his own area and the change management department.

Detailed job profile of a change agent. (Member guide)

See all of the:

  • Roles played by a change agent.
  • Actions associated with each role.
  • Skills the change agent would need to have to perform these actions.

Become a member


Common problems resulting from incorrect roles.


The following problems typically occur when change management roles are not well designed.

  1. Change managers don't get the support they need from their clients. Change managers or consultants don't get the support or respect they need from their clients - the project managers or sponsors. They are brought onto the project late, they can't get time with the project manager, and they are expected to do work that is not part of their role.
  2. Change agents don't get the support they need from their managers. Change agents don't get the support they need from their line managers. This makes it almost impossible for them to be successful in their change agent roles.
  3. Change fatigue and confusion occurs. Clients and employees complain that there are too many changes happening in the organization.
  4. Territorial warfare between support divisions. Internal consultants from Organizational Development, Change Management, Learning & Development or Talent management often fight one another for turf.

There are 4 reasons why these problems occur:

  1. There is no one leading the change management function - which means there is little or no political support for change managers or change agents.
  2. The leader of the change management department has neglected his responsibility of integrating all the changes in the organization, and ensuring that all role players support one another.
  3. Some people are playing the wrong role for their level of skill or political power.
  4. Some people are playing the wrong role for the needs of the project or organization.

To ensure that all role players involved in change management get the support they need from their managers or sponsors, it is important to ensure that each role player in the change management function, is willing and able to play his role. This means he has the skill, the power base and the political support he needs to be successful.

Case study of a successful culture change using different role players

Read our info-graphic case study of a successful culture change. This series of info-graphics shows what each role player does to change a corporate culture.

Firstly, read the info-graphic showing the different groups that were involved in the corporate culture change.

Then read what each role player did, to contribute to a successful corporate culture change.

  1. The overall corporate culture journey
  2. The Employee journey.
  3. The steering committee journey.
  4. The senior managers journey.
  5. The change agents journey.
  6. The executives journey.

Also see the related info-graphics on how a systems or structure change can affect a corporate culture.




You may also like:

  • Change management for organizationsA library of practical articles, guides, diagnostic tools, case studies, dashboards and solutions to use when doing organizational wide change.
  • Change management for teamsA library of practical articles, guides, diagnostic tools, case studies, dashboards and solutions to use when managing change in teams.
  • Change management resources Practical change management kits to give you results and credibility - from our store.


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