Can a Change Manager ever be in the communications spotlight?

change management communications facilitation Apr 07, 2024
Lata in pink top looking to the side; text: ready for the spotlight?

We often talk about leader-led change in Change Management, but does that mean that Change Managers should only ever work behind-the-scenes and in the shadows, drafting and creating communications for others to send or present? Can a Change Manager ever be in the communications spotlight? Let’s explore the considerations and the options that you have if you want to take a more active and visible role in leading change to your organisation.


You are always trying to do two things as a Change Manager:

#1 Lead a successful change - whatever needs to happen to make sure the change is successful is important. 

#2 Build your own personal brand - building your own skill set, your own professional expertise and experience, and your own positioning in the market as well.


Let’s step through each.




Start with the outcome:

If you’re in my Leading Successful Change program, you’ll know that whenever you're thinking about sending communications (like an email) or presenting communications (like a briefing or town hall), you really need to think about the outcome you want. Think about what you need to achieve from this, what the Call to Action will be, and who the audience is.


Leverage senior leaders:

Unless I’m working with a particular group of stakeholders or run the briefing session, I’ll rarely put my name on a communications (especially if it’s to the entire business). The channel is important, but so is the influence of the person who's providing the communications. As with everything I share, it’s fit-for-purpose: it really depends on the project, the organisation, and yourself as a Change Manager. But there are some basic guidelines that you might want to align to. For major communications or organisation-wide changes, you may want someone fairly senior like the Sponsor, Head of IT/Chief Information Officer, or even the CEO sending out those comms to lend an air of authority, influence, criticality, and importance. These could be announcement comms, go live comms, emergency comms… anything that has a level of importance or is the first time that people are really hearing about it, or is a blanket message to the entire organisation. Having it come from somebody senior is always going to mean it’s taken more seriously, and can be helpful if you’re brand new to the organisation or client, or just not well-known across the business yet if you are an existing employee. 


Politely challenge the Project Manager:

A lot of Project Managers want to be the face and voice of the change, which makes sense because the project is their baby. But as hurtful as this sounds, many Project Managers are not the best placed to send or present communications. Because they’re often wrangling people, employees might think of them as dictators or police, and some Project Managers are great on the delivery front but not so much on the people front. Their style and ways of working may already have broken a lot of trust and relationships, so keeping them as the frontman or -woman for the change could impact the change’s success. If that’s the case, you might have them make the initial introduction for you and then you take over to be the face and voice of the change once you’ve built relationships in the business (i.e. from owning senior leader engagement or Change Champion network, or having delivered a briefing already). 



People know who did the work

There are times when you might decide that you don't want to necessarily hand over everything because you want to be able to talk about having done a particular task or showcase a particular skillset in a job interview. Primary #1 is making sure that the change is successful. Secondary #2 is making sure that you are showcasing your skills and your expertise as a Change professional. Often when you're doing #1, no matter what you do to make the change successful, #2 happens automatically. People know that you were the one who did the work, even if the name at the bottom of the comms is somebody else's or the person standing up and using your slides is someone else. Everybody knows that the information, detail, and quality of the communications has come from Change Management. And if they don't, does it really matter as long as the change is successful? You can still talk about it in the job interview by sharing how you supported or empowered the business leader or the Project Manager, or the trainers to shine. You're stepping into more of that “coaching” role. You can absolutely talk about that in job interviews, especially if you're more senior, because they’ll probably be looking for how you can achieve through others. 


Be the facilitator

Often, projects are under-funded and under-resourced and the business might be grateful for you to step in and step up to lead a town hall or briefing. I’ll often be the facilitator because I’ve got presenting skills (many of which I share in the BONUS "Presenting Like A Pro" Module in Leading Successful Change with tips and hints to construct presentations and show up confidently when presenting). So I’ll craft the entire town hall and perhaps have the calendar invite sent from a shared inbox or have it sent from the Sponsor. I’ll introduce myself at the start and be like, “Hey, I am the Change Manager. I’m going to be facilitating today's town hall.” And then open it up to others experts to present, becoming that bridge for say the Head of IT or for business leads or for the CEO. You’re just the person who keeps the flow of the session going, because the likelihood is that you are going to be a lot more engaging and the style is what helps people feel good in the session. You might facilitate the Q&A, take the questions and hand questions to the panel of leaders or experts who will answer them. It puts you in that position to also be able to stay on time, stay on topic, take questions and pin them for later if it's not appropriate to answer at that time. It can be a really powerful way of supporting both of those two goals in one go. Because you get to shine and showcase your skills, but you're actually making sure that the change is successful because they're actually hearing from the business. 


Be the presenter

And then other times I’ve totally just jumped in and just been the trainer or partnered training facilitation with the Project Manager/Business Analyst, either because the project is under-resourced or it’s so important to get the outcome and I may not be able to trust others to present well. If we’re taking 200 people out of their day job for 2 days and they sit there disengaged for two days, not learning, not excited, not interested, the success of the change is going to be impacted.


It's very flexible and very fluid, but always when you're going into your project or with the business before you step in to lead or facilitate, ask the question:

  • "Would you like me to act as facilitator for that?"
  • "Would you like me to bring that briefing pack together?" 
  • "Hey, I’m really comfortable with facilitating. Do you want me to facilitate so that you can be the star of the show and the expert who answers the questions?"


And then when it comes to things like town halls and briefings and training, it becomes very much about what you are comfortable doing, the choices that you want to make in terms of the roles that you want to step into, and also what the project wants to do and is happy for you to do. It's very much working with your business leaders, working with your projects, seeing what's appropriate, and seeing what you feel comfortable with.


There’s no right or wrong when it comes to the role you choose to play in change communications. Explore all the possible avenues and channels in my free “Creative Launch Ideas Guide” with 53 ways to bring your Change and Transformation to life.


CLICK HERE to instantly download my free Creative Launch Ideas Guide


Lata xx

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