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Talent Engagement for Change: Hires

On any given day, hundreds of job announcements are posted online, targeting candidates who qualify as managers of change.

As a HR professional, you’ve already worked through the necessary listing of requirements (responsibilities) and experience (skills).

Most likely, your resulting published job description blends items that are considered universally definitive of the role, with items that are locally distinctive about having the role in your organization.

But how has the decision been made to cast a worker in the role?

The goal is going to be to maximize timely effectiveness, and a generally available choice is between a full time employee (FTE) and a consultant.

Often the decision to use an FTE is an important tactical one that is part of completing or optimizing the design of organizational accountability. FTEs generally occupy “space” and use communications that are prescribed for predictability and therefore presume operational efficiency.

In comparison, a consultant is a tactical decision that often is primarily about immediately deploying expertise at higher levels and with more mobility. The working presumption is that strategic impact will be more likely increased.

Those differences aim more at responsibilities than they do at capabilities. We know that’s true because there are quite visibly, in recruiting, more than enough people available with the demonstrated experience to show up in either capacity.

But the wisdom of the path chosen is in whether it correctly identifies the more dominant business need.

  • One path (FTEs) emphasizes execution and process compliance.
  • The other path (consulting) emphasizes capability development and maturity.

Solving the Right Problem

Obviously, that distinction reflects the organization’s idea of its current state of readiness to successfully conduct managed change.

But there are two key issues coloring that assessment.

One: after decades of models and certifications and other prescriptive knowledge, why are failure rates for managed changes still at 67% or higher? Is the job description literally asking for the same things that historically account for 2/3 of efforts failing?

Two: what is the working idea of what actually gets managed in change? Does it describe the status quo organization more than it actually describes change? Does it acknowledge that “normal” now means ongoing change, with greater frequency and variety?

We’ve seen single job descriptions that contain as many as 25 different criteria. Somewhat differently, our comparison of many dozens of different published job descriptions gave a collective list of criteria in the same neighborhood: 20 to 30 different criteria. (Some criteria are not exclusive to managing change but are supportive or circumstantially necessary, according to the employer.)

Decision Support

Acknowledging that fact, our analysis of those criteria brings up the following things more specifically about change management.

HR — you already got approvals for the job description. But what about…

  • Bang for the buck of each requirement? — no role succeeds alone; what other roles immediately become more valuable due to this one?
  • What is not addressed in the Change Management lifecycle? — is the role’s scope of coverage solving a specific and explicit problem? And is the scope right-sized?
  • How to prioritize change phases? — a change has multiple phases from definition to adoption. The new normal is multiple concurrent changes; are strategy and portfolio managers already in place to handle synchronization and interdependencies?
  • Experience beyond certifications? — who knows how the organization’s culture helps or hurts the role? Who knows how to determine it?
  • How to grow the role? — is the plan clearly about change management maturity rather than about status or career advancement?
  • How to integrate the job among other permanent staff roles? — do staff members know how fundamentally collaborative managed change must be?

Solver Profiles

What to emphasize in the responsibilities (enablement, not execution):

1. Strategy and Executive alignment

2. Stakeholder communications — all levels & directions

3. Culture and Capability ecosystem

4. Risk and Opportunity Assessment

5. Change Management Education and Professional Development

What remaining responsibilities can grow with and from a CM consultant’s relationship with your staff:

  • Performance improvement — clarifying what is causal and what is prerequisite
  • Knowledge management — perspective that is broader than one organization’s experience
  • Sales Support — leveraging communications consistently across the supply/demand spectrum

Recognizing the Solution

Is consulting an opportunity that is too good to pass up?

Good consulting increases enablement and readiness quickly, before executing, and stays focused on building the organization for continual change. Knowledge transfer is continual, and the role flexes with demand, at a minimum of administrative impact.

Highlights of the coverage:

  • Including all stakeholders from the beginning — get visibility there very quickly
  • Fully aligning people factors and business process factors as Change Production
  • Correctly articulating the ROI of Change Management in the context of other existing competencies
  • Focusing on strategic capability maturity for sustained agility versus continually oncoming changes.

And, of course, the role is itself part of transition and transformation, with its duration defined by current-state relevance.

© 2021 Malcolm Ryder / ChangeBridge LLC / www.changebridge.co

Photo: by Wim van ‘t Einde on Unsplash



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Malcolm Ryder

Malcolm Ryder


Malcolm is a strategist, solution developer and knowledge management professional in both profit and non-profit companies across business, IT and the arts.