​4 things successful change managers practice daily

Top change agents don't sit idle. Learn how they help organizations achieve results.

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Top change managers (CM) seldom sit idle. Their ears are always listening to the people and chatter that sets the tone for change. By staying on top of the organization's direction, understanding what is transforming the business, and remaining tuned into the company's culture, change managers help organizations achieve higher rates of buy-in and improve agility and strategic alignment.

In addition, they practice these four things on a daily basis.

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1. Staying on top of the organization's direction

Keeping their fingers on the pulse of the entire organization helps change managers understand not only the direction of the company but also when and why. By having a solid grasp of this type of information, CMs become more automatic and fluid instead of reactive. Change managers can anticipate and plan better instead of operating in the after-the-fact mode. Top change managers are more likely to be involved in leadership planning sessions to prepare for what's coming and help functional areas prepare and successfully adjust.

Without having a clear sense of where an organization is headed well in advance, change managers are at a disadvantage, which means the entire organization is ill-prepared, too.

2. Understanding what is transforming the business

Many things can impact a business transformation. Top change managers strive to understand, which mechanisms play a role in business transformation efforts. Maybe transformation is taking place through technology, or a change in policy and procedures? It could be new legislation, a leadership shuffle, or even an opportunity that surfaced? Regardless of the actual driver, top change managers make sure to know what the drivers are, how it impacts the business, and when. Change management experts also strive to keep on top of the mechanisms to help them better prepare companies as a whole for future changes.

3. Listening to the chatter

Changes mean chatter—usually constant chatter—sometimes loud and sometimes soft. Chatter comes from all levels within an organization and in various forms. It can take the form of gossip, formal discussions, or simple grumblings. Either way, chatter is part of a cultural barometer. By listening to the chatter, change management experts are in a more open state of mind, that allows them to take in more information and captures informal data that can be used to make better decisions and preparations.

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4. Tuned-in to internal and external culture

The culture of an organization plays a vital role in managing change, adoption of changes, and being prepared for future changes. A strong change manager understands this and strives to stay tuned-in to the overall tempo and temperature of the organization's internal and external culture including the employees, full-time, part-time, and contract, as well as vendors, customers, and other stakeholders. By understanding the internal and external culture, change managers can access how well changes will be tolerated and adopted. They also may be more preemptive by engaging the leadership team in conversations about the impact of change on the company's culture and vice versa.

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Image: Antonio Diaz, Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Moira Alexander

Moira Alexander is the Founder of PMWorld 360 Magazine and Lead-Her-Ship Group, and a project management and digital workplace columnist for various publications. Moira has 20+ years in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large busine...