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Why Project Managers need Change Management skills


Over recent years we have seen increasing levels of professionalism amongst project managers as more organisations adopt recognised project frameworks and more people take accredited project management training courses. This is good news. However, it is necessary but not sufficient.

To get straight to the point, project managers need something else, and that something else is change management.

Change management can be described as “an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organisations to a desired future state.”

Why is this important to a project manager? Well, quite simply, the whole point of your project is to introduce change to one or more organisations, and whilst you, as project manager, may not be a part of the desired future state, you are a catalyst for it happening and many people may be looking to you for guidance, expertise and advice about that transition.

Now the challenge

Whereas project management is a series of relatively well-defined processes and concepts, the ideas behind change management are rather more equivocal. For project managers who thrive on certainty the ambiguity of change is a challenge.

Yet however vague change management might seem when compared to project management, we have no choice but to recognise its vital part in organisational transformation.

The characteristics that would enable project managers to become better catalysts can be described as:


Project managers need to act as a role model throughout the organisation. This involves setting a positive and meaningful example of how to lead change successfully. Two particular ‘audiences’ for this role modelling are senior managers and middle managers, who need to be encouraged themselves to become role models.


Stakeholder engagement is so often the weak area of any project. In a recent survey less than 10% of organisations encouraged dialogue around change initiatives. Project managers must begin to prioritise engagement and communication, as people need to understand and buy in to the case for the change if it is to succeed. Stakeholders need clear answers to the ‘why?’ questions around change.


Ultimately change happens after projects deliver. Therefore, the need to empower others is paramount. Change leaders at all levels in an organisation need to be recognised, equipped and supported.

Can project managers develop the required knowledge, skills and abilities?

Well, the good news is that training and qualifications in change management have been developing and maturing over the last few years and there is now increasing recognition of the certifications available.

The pace and scale of change in organisations is increasing and the associated challenges are as complex as ever. Many of the challenges are often labelled as ‘soft’ ones – such as culture, emotions, motivation. Ironically there is nothing soft about them, they are very hard!

Understanding change management and being able to lead others to grasp its importance is becoming increasingly essential. Project managers can lead the way here. Are you ready to pick up the challenge?



Posted in Qualifications.

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