Sunday, August 21, 2011

People Skills for Creating and Managing Change in Programmes and Projects. PROJECT MANAGER as Effective Change Agent.

The successful and effective implementation of change employs specific skills that have traditionally been owned by a select group of technical professionals. This is no longer true, and the skills of managing change are essential for everyone in an organization at all levels.

Change always requires a cultural shift for everyone:
?    introducing new processes;
?    finding new and better procedures and working practices;
?    throwing off the old habits to create a more dynamic and flexible organization;
?    being able to react effectively to market forces;
?    searching for ways to maintain competitiveness;
?    searching for ways to seek new horizons.

To carry out such change requires some special skills. Project management has long provided a structured and organized way to achieve success every time, but has been buried deep inside technical and engineering departments as part of their exclusive domain. Unfortunately, it is not surprising that project management has been regarded as too complicated and as a result is frequently misunderstood and very poorly practised in other parts of the business.

Change in today's world affects everyone. You face a changing environment both in your private life and in the business world in which you work. Some of these changes are beyond your control, such as the weather, which not only changes with the passing seasons, but seems to be changing in its behaviour with the passing years.
Not all change is so automatic and uncontrolled. You can choose to create change in your life by taking carefully framed decisions. You choose to change jobs, move house, or adopt a different lifestyle as an expression of your personal desires and as a means of satisfying your current needs.
Treat the change as an opportunity and a challenge. Selected change usually creates positive behaviours and constructive responses, whereas imposed change often generates open and latent opposition, negative and critical responses and even open sabotage. These consequences must be effectively managed for a successful outcome.

Programmes and projects are concerned with creating and managing change in an organized and structured manner. Proven tools and techniques are available to you but you must also focus on the impact on people. A successful outcome is a direct measure of your ability as an effective change agent.

You are faced with dealing with the fears that act to restrain the change process. At the same time, you demonstrate your enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of achieving advances in the way your organization operates in the current and future business environment. This demands a wide range of people skills besides those traditionally associated with managing projects. You need to be able to:
?    select the right team members with appropriate skills;
?    recognize and understand the different types of personalities you must manage;
?    set clear objectives and align people's personal goals;
?    create a real sense of responsibility and obligation in the project team;
?    manage a team as an interactive unit;
?    create a sense of commitment in the team members, some of whom may have little interest in the results expected;
?    coach, guide and actively support the individual team members;
?    explain decisions and keep everyone informed of progress;
?    establish a sustaining environment for effective dialogue and feedback in the team and with other teams and their management;
?    manage upwards to influence senior management and other line managers;
?    manage third parties: contractors, suppliers, consultants;
?    understand the real needs of the end users of the results;
?    satisfy the internal customer;
?    handle conflicts effectively;
?    demonstrate a concern for continuous improvement, questioning traditions and always seeking a better way of doing things;
?    take a holistic view – seeing the bigger picture, understanding where the change fits into corporate strategy, other project activity and expected future changes.



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