December 13, 2017


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

The Top Management Models for Fast-pacing Change in Business

Business executives believe that organizations need to adapt to change in order to have a competitive advantage. Change management programs involve organizational buy-in, design of change initiatives and seamless implementation of those initiatives. In a survey of North American executives, 54 percent stated they have successfully rolled out change management initiatives at their organizations. However, employees can be weary of change if they do not fully understand the initiatives and have experienced past change program failures. In fact, 48 percent of employees think their organizations lack the capabilities to sustain change initiatives.

For businesses to be successful, executives have to create management strategies that promote staff retention, revenue generation and a positive workplace culture. All employees have to support the change programs for business to have success in the future. Some of the common change models include Holocracy, the McKinsey 7-S and Kotter’s 8-step change initiative.

#1 Holocracy

Holocracy philosophy is the distribution of power to specific teams and employees at all levels are subject to the same rules. Organizations using Holocracy are more adaptive to change and have a clearer company mission with built-in reassessment to address future issues.

#2 McKinsey 7-S model

The McKinsey 7-S model uses strategy, structure, management activities, core values, style, capability of employees and competencies to see how the organization works. The model eases change transition and equalizes staff roles.

#3 Kotter 8-step Change Model

Kotter’s 8-step Change Model creates a sense of urgency, builds change teams, forms a strategic vision, enlists volunteers, empowers action, produces short-term wins, supports acceleration and incorporates change. This model is easy for businesses to adopt even in traditionally hierarchical systems.

Traditional management practices are bogging businesses down and make them unable to compete in today’s global market. Executives have to prepare their teams to adapt to these change models so they can control the implementation process and enhance business benefits. To learn more about the top business management models for effective management, check out the infographic below created by the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online Master of Business Administration program.

Project Story: Sensitivity around change

By Linky van der Merwe

Medical Aid Migration ProjectThis story is about a Medical Scheme Migration Project with the goal of having to migrate company staff from one medical scheme to another within six months. The project manager, Cathy Rodrigues, was working with a 3rd party admin organization in the medical industry dealing with medical schemes. They were experienced external consultants who helped to make a strong, dynamic project team to enable a smooth migration.

It was mandatory for the affected staff to migrate onto the new scheme. The fact that there was a cost difference between the two medical schemes and that the scheme they migrated onto was more expensive, complicated the migration especially due to the staff resisting the migration. The project also involved a large stakeholder audience of 1472 people.


The project required a huge change management intervention, yet there was no change manager assigned and it became the responsibility of the project manager to facilitate the change.

Due to the sensitive nature of the project, people having to leave a medical scheme that they’ve been on for years, to go to a different and more expensive one, and medical aid being a very personal matter, a petition was started against the migration. It was mitigated by giving staff a month’s grace. During the month’s grace Exco gave staff an ultimatum: they could get quotes from other schemes, and if it was cheaper they didn’t have to migrate to the new scheme, if it was more or the equal to, it was company policy to follow through with the original plan to migrate.  A month had to be added to the project timeline to allow for this grace period.

Extensive information sharing

Much information had to be shared about the new medical scheme and group awareness sessions were arranged for this purpose. However, attendance of group awareness sessions was poor. In addition, provision was made for staff to have individual sessions with a consultant, but many were not attending the one on one sessions.  Some of the managers would not allow all call centre agents to attend one on one sessions. Or people would leave it to the last minute.

Later the project team discovered that staff actually experienced IT difficulties in booking seats for the sessions through a booking system that was setup which caused some of the appointments to be double booked.

When disgruntled staff members complained to their direct managers, they would contact the project team, which again flooded their mailboxes.  in some cases, line managers also weren’t aware of the awareness sessions and kept staff members from attending.

Migration successful

Despite all the resistance and initial setbacks caused by technology and the logistics of having to assist a large number of people personally with migrating to a new medical scheme, the project was delivered successfully. Only one month’s delay was experienced, with no scope creep because all staff members were migrated onto the new scheme.

The project team was a very diplomatic “no nonsense” team who worked well together.

Lessons Learnt

It is recommended to adopt a top down approach – engage with HR, Exco and line management before engaging with staff. Projects like this have to be handled with extreme sensitivity, people could be getting a worse deal than they had before. The petition that caught the project team by total surprise is an indication that it wasn’t addressed and handled correctly.

Change Manager is essential

On projects with a large stakeholder audience and of a sensitive nature, having a change manager onboard from the beginning, is essential. A project manager needs to focus on execution of the plan, achieving deliverables and reaching milestones. Most project managers are not equipped with the required change management skills and experience to compile a separate change intervention that could address stakeholder’s fears and concerns using words that would speak to their hearts.  A change manager would be able to focus on the human side and take care of multiple communication strategies required for awareness, information, training and acceptance.

If no budget provision was made for a change manager, the project manager should motivate and even insist on bringing a change manager on-board to ensure a smoother transition and to take care of the human factor of change on this scale. For a professional project manager it would be the right thing to do to negotiate funding with the sponsor, because your reputation is also at stake.

Stakeholder engagement

It’s very important to have project kick-off sessions with the line- and top managers of the company explaining the project scope, timeline and change plan due to the sensitive nature of the change. They could then be empowered to assist as change agents to the staff members who approached them with their objections and complaints.

The communications need to be positioned well, not as was the case of the team who flooded inboxes with impersonalised messages promoting the medical scheme which probably from the start didn’t position the scheme very well. They also didn’t have any banners or visual posters to promote the scheme.


Although technology is there to help us on projects, it can cause havoc, like the double-bookings that were experienced. Always have backup plans in place and if the worst happens, then put workarounds in place to limit the impact of the issues.

Without sufficient and formal change interventions taking care of all the communication requirements with a large audience, using email makes it very difficult to track and measure effectiveness of dealing with people’s experience of the change.


Cathy Rodrigues started out as a Project Administrator. Then she moved to a leading international bank and transitioned into a Junior Project Manager and eventually became a Senior Professional Project Manager. Her passion for being a PM remains unchanged, with her overall objective to manage tangible, soul satisfying projects that result in a positive outcome for all end users and stakeholders.

Cathy may be contacted on or 083-6298389

Project Manager versus Change Manager Skills

change manager skillsMost experienced project managers will know that effective Change Management has become essential in delivering successful projects. The question is what type of skills does a Change Manager need to be effective and how are those skills different from project manager skills?

The answer can be found in a report published by Afro Ant, as the outcome of a conversation attended by change managers and project managers in September 2014. You will find the summary of the change manager skills as well as a comparison of different focus areas between project and change managers.

Definition of Change Management

Change management is a combination of science and art – in the practice of change management, the “what” is often a science, but much of the “how” will always remain an art, as much a function of who you are than of what you know.

How does the role of a Change Manager typically differ from the role of a Project Manager?

The main differences lie in their focus areas. The project manager will focus on delivery on time, within budget, of specified quality and to the satisfaction of stakeholders. The change manager will focus on systematically managing the change as to minimise the impacts and to maximise the benefits. Project are ultimately about change in order to deliver benefits. See the comparison at the end.

Skills of a Good Change Manager

Operationally a change manager requires a very  good understanding of change management principles and associated theory, methodology, techniques and tools, and the ability to apply these in a practical and flexible manner.

Then facilitation skills, influencing skills, strong conceptual and analytical thinking skills need to be present.

Change managers need to quickly understand what their projects are about and develop appropriate change management strategies and plans. You need to translate the real change into communication that all stakeholders will understand. You need to engage with the project team in a constructive manner.

With project management and planning skills, you also need Business acumen: demonstrated ability and experience in understanding business strategy, structure, processes and enabling technologies.

In addition, a change manager must have the ability to handle significant pressure and to persevere, meaning to stay focused and to maintain a positive energy level despite setbacks. You need the ability to learn from problems and to see tasks and projects through to completion.

Passion and Maturity

A change manager will have passion to deliver to standards of excellence. You need a proven ability to manage quality of own and others’ work. You need appropriate and effective prioritisation and self-management. This includes the ability to work to deadlines and a commitment to deliver on time.

A change manager will be decisive and assertive, innovative with problem solving skills, as well as administrative skills. You need to be able to manage ambiguity and to create order and structure.

People Skills

A change manager definitely requires above average ability to work with people, to have empathy and to establish trust and rapport. You need insight into individual and team dynamics and the ability to establish trust with senior leadership.

Effective conflict resolution and negotiation skills are required to build relationships, to establish rapport and relate to people in an open, friendly manner while showing sincere interest in others. You will have the ability to build and maintain mutual trust.


You need proficient language skills, the ability to recognise and use the appropriate interpersonal styles and communication methods to ensure understanding acceptance of a change, idea, plan or product.

For communication you need business writing skills, effective listening, presentation development and delivery. Effective use of tools like MS PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook. Even some-time learn the basics of pogrammes like Frontpage or Access.

Other skills would include:

  • Self-starter, being self‐motivated
  • Resourceful and crea7ve
  • Ambitious and hard-working
  • Strongly disciplined
  • Achievement orientated
  • Assertiveness
  • Reliable
  • Practical and pragmatic
  • Flexible /adaptable
  • Reasonable and open-minded
  • Energetic and positive


Above all a change manager needs to be passionate about the work they’re doing. The ability to engage authentically will bring you far. That means to bring yourself into the work that you do. It requires honesty, openness, congruence, self-insight and that you are okay enough with whom you are to share that with the people you deal with in your work as a change manager.

Change manager vs Project manager skills

Change manager vs Project manager skills

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Change Management Process – Measuring Return on Investment (ROI) Part 2

Change management ROIMany people believe that an effective Change Management process, has become essential in delivering successful projects and getting a return on investment. This is Part 2 on a series about Change Management Processes. In this article we look at how to measure your return on investment (ROI). Part 1 was about the expected benefits from effective change management

Projects bring about change. Whether it is new technology, updated systems, or changes to processes – if there are people involved, they will most likely need to be doing something differently for the project to realise its benefits. By understanding the benefits of implementing Change Management properly, as outlined in the previous article, you can then determine whether the cost spent on Change Management yields a favourable return.

How to measure ROI

To show if something has improved or worsened, you need to measure it against a baseline. Here are a few ideas to do that.

#1 Adoption and Usage rate

In the case of a new or modified system, you can evaluate how many people are using the new system or following the new process.

#2 Customer service feedback

Organisations would be aiming for an improvement in customer service. You can measure the success of an implementation by measuring customer satisfaction. Customer service levels could be measured before the change, after implementation and after some time has passed.

#3 Assessing the productivity

Employee productivity could be assessed before, during and after the change to assess impact on productivity or service levels.

#4 Feedback from affected parties

Survey stakeholders before, during and after the implementation to provide insights into readiness for change and the likelihood of success of the change.

#5 Staff retention

Compare staff retention rates before, during and after implementation. If more key staff are leaving during implementation it may highlight an issue that needs to be addressed.

The most accurate way to measure Change Management ROI depend on each individual change situation. Therefor the ideas stated above should be considered as a starting point to measure ROI.

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Change Management Process – Barriers and Negative effects – Part 3

Many people believe that an effective Change Management process, has become essential in delivering successful projects and getting a return on investment. This is part 3 in the series about change management. This article will look at the negative effects of insufficient change management as well as the barriers to a successful implementation of change. Click Part 1, Part 2 to read previous articles before this one.

barrier to change Barriers

Common barriers to the successful implementation of change, include the following:

  • Lack of shared vision and an understanding of what needs to be accomplished
  • Change fatigue
  • Timing
  • Lack of leadership support or alignment
  • Sustainability of the project
  • What is happening outside and in parallel to the change
  • Not enough understanding of how to measure the value of a benefit.

Negative Effects

When change management is insufficient, it can have some negative effects. Let’s look at a few.

Employee retention levels may drop

During times of change, especially when the people component is being neglected, it may bring about the loss of key staff. If people are not being heard or equipped to manage the change, people may choose to move onto another environment.

Insufficient focus on managing the impact of change on people

The objective of change management is to minimise the impact of a project and to support the realisation of benefits and to embed the change. Without sufficient change management the focus on the people aspects of the change is neglected and all benefits reliant on people will not be realised.

Risks may not be highlighted

One of the roles of a Change Manager is to highlight the risks that would impact on people. A lack of risk management, may also have an impact on the project timeline.

Drop in customer service

If users who are going through a change experience a productivity dip, or an inability to use the new system or any other negative side effects, it will have an effect on the customers they deal with. It can result in loss of customers and damage to an organisation’s reputation.

Increased resistance to change

People who are not involved in the change process and having change forced upon them, often shows signs of active resistance or even anger. Often just by engaging with employees and allowing them the space to raise and address concerns, can provide a platform for resolving their issues before they impact on project success.

Lower adoption or adaptation to change

Without managing a change properly there may be an increase in resistance and a greater likelihood of impacted staff not adopting a new system or new way of working. Change Managers often play the role of a bridge between the solution and the users and without this bridge there may be poor or no adoption.

Lack of ownership or shared vision

A project or change initiative has an end date. This means that after project completion some-one will need to own the change and ensure its sustainability going forward. During the course of the project there needs to be alignment and shared vision. When perceptions and visions aren’t aligned and no-one is taking ownership of the success of the implementation, the benefits will ultimately not be realised.

Negative impact on productivity

Productivity dips can be caused by factors such as a lack of planning, duplication of effort, despondent employees, ill-equipped stakeholders and business as usual versus project responsibilities overlapping. By equipping the individuals with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need to cope with the change, the dip in productivity can be minimised.

In addition to this, the issue of role uncertainty can negatively impact the individuals within the project team and stakeholders involved. When people are unsure or what they’re supposed to be doing, they can swing from either doing nothing or doing too much of the wrong thing.

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Change Management Process – Benefits and Project Impact

Benefits of change managementMany people believe that an effective Change Management process, has become essential in delivering successful projects and getting a return on investment.

In answer to the question if there is a Return on Investment for Change Management, we can turn to a Report that was published by Afro Ant in April 2014. This report was the output of an Ant Conversation, hosted by Afro Ant (and co-sponsored by Old Mutual) which was attended by 24 professionals who work in the field of Change Management or work closely with Change Managers. This conversation, centered around ROI, encouraged the sharing of insights, opinions, and lessons learned from working in the field of Change Management – specifically around the benefits of implementing Change Management properly, the negative effects if this is not done, and how the ROI on Change Management can be measured.

This is the first of a series of 3 articles about the Change Management process. It will cover the benefits of change management, ideas for how to measure return on investment (ROI) and negative effects of insufficient change management.

What is Change Management

Change management can be defined as a framework for managing the effect of new business processes, systems and structures or culture changes to achieve a required business outcome.

Directed change can be defined as the change in business and operational practices that is required to ensure the sustained realisation of business outcomes. It’s implemented within constraints.

It’s important to understand the objectives and scope of the change and what the expected benefits of the implementation are in order to determine if you’re doing the right things and doing them well. A measurement for the effectiveness is also needed.

Benefits of Change Management

When we talk about Change Management and its benefits, there is a distinct link back to how Change Management is managed. Some of the benefits of Change Managements are easily recognised, but there are other benefits that are not as overt, but would have a bigger impact on your project. When you implement change management you can expect some of, although not limited to, the following benefits:

#1 It will give you a structured approach to change

In addition change management will assist in managing the transition.

#2 Benefit realisation

If a change (to adopt a new way of working) is not managed properly, many of the benefits may not be realised.

#3 Change management will provide effective communication.

That means the ability to provide clear and consistent communication so that individuals involved in, or impacted by the change, know what they need to know, when they need to know and are able to work towards adopting the change.

#4 Role Clarity

Change managers work with the project and leadership team to confirm roles and responsibilities, and guidelines so that stakeholders understand what is expected of them and when.

#5 Making change sustainable

Structured management of change support working with stakeholders to make sure that the change is sustainable and that it lasts. A key element of this is to transfer knowledge from the project to the stakeholders, equipping them with the skills they may need to maintain the change.

#6 Stakeholder involvement

Change should be done with people. It gives people being impacted a voice and makes them part of the change initiative. Stakeholder buy-in and leadership engagement in driving the change has been identified as a driver for success.

#7 Leadership involvement

Change management focuses on ensuring that change leaders are enabled and empowered to lead.

#8 Faster adoption

Managing the change brings faster more visible adoption of the new way of working and user proficiency.

#9 Impact on Productivity

Change management aims to minimise the impact on stakeholders and the disruption to daily operations.

Any project manager who has ever worked on projects that required change interventions, can attest to the value of change management and the positive impact that effective change management had on successful project delivery.

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Change Management Strategies – Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping

3 Key Questions to Ask

During a Change Management initiative, an important aspect of Programme Management is Stakeholder Analysis and Mapping. This is all about: “Who is this change going to affect and how are they going to react, and what do we have to do to support them?”.

How well you listen to and respond to ALL of your stakeholders’ issues is a significant measure of the effectiveness of your management of these relationships. As a project/programme manager of change, it is important to be seen doing stakeholder relationship management.

Leadership skills make a big difference to successfully managing stakeholder relationships. This is where the management of expectations matters. Here are 3 key questions to address in managing expectations in a change management initiative, and specifically in relation to your employees.

1. Do your people really know what is expected of them?

Do your people know how to translate the high level vision and strategy into actionable steps? People are very different in the ways they process information, interpret life, and in the ways they are motivated. Many (probably most) of them are not able to make the leap from hearing and understanding your vision and strategy to translating that into purposeful productive action. This does not mean that they don’t understand it, or agree with it, but it does simply mean that the leap is too great for most people to make – without your practical assistance.

2. Do they know what they can expect from you?

It is extremely important to that they know that you will work with them in “grinding out” in practical, manageable detail what the high level strategy, vision, values things actually mean for them as the “troops” in action.

3. Do they know what is expected of each other?

They also need to know what these actionable steps mean for them in terms of what they can and should expect from each other.

In the end it boils down to effective communications management, as well as following stakeholder management best practices.

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Source: Strategies for managing change by Stephen WarrilowChange Management Expert

If you want to work with Stephen Warrilow, take advantage of his 7 FREE “How to Do It” downloads that will take you through all of the key stages of “How to manage change” – and show you how to manage change successfully.

5 Principles Of A Good Change Management Communication Strategy

Communication Strategy- Say what you mean and mean what you say

When change is initiated through projects, a good Communication Strategy is at the heart of any successful change management process. It is important that an effective communication strategy is defined about the reasons, the benefits, the plans and proposed effects of that change. This Communication Strategy should be maintained throughout the duration of the change management programme.

Your communication strategy needs to address the key questions:

  • What are the objectives?
  • What are the key messages?
  • Who are you trying to reach?
  • What information will be communicated?
  • When will information be disseminated, and what are the relevant timings?
  • How much information will be provided, and to what level of detail?
  • What mechanisms will be used to disseminate information?
  • How will feedback be encouraged?
  • What will be done as a result of feedback?

Your communication strategy needs to address the key EMOTIONAL questions

William Bridges focuses on the emotional and psychological impact and aspect of the change through these 3 simple questions:

(1)  What is changing? Bridges offers the following guidance – the change leader’s communication statement must:

  • Clearly express the change leader’s understanding and intention
  • Link the change to the drivers that make it necessary
  • Sell the problem before you try to sell the solution
  • Not use jargon

(2)  What will actually be different because of the change? Bridges says: “I go into organizations where a change initiative is well underway, and I ask what will be different when the change is done-and no one can answer the question… a change may seem very important and very real to the leader, but to the people who have to make it work it seems quite abstract and vague until actual differences that it will make begin to become clear. It should be priority to get those differences clear”

(3)  Who’s going to lose what? Bridges maintains that the situational changes are not as difficult for companies to make as the psychological transitions of the people impacted by the change. Transition management is all about seeing the situation through the eyes of the other guy. It is a perspective based on empathy. It is a management and communication process that recognizes and affirms people’s realities and works with them to bring them through the transition. Failure to do this, on the part of change leaders, and a denial of the losses and “lettings go” that people are faced with, sows the seeds of mistrust.

5 guiding principles of a good change management communication strategy

So, in summary the 5 guiding principles of a good change management communication strategy are as follows:

  • Clarity of message – to ensure relevance and recognition
  • Resonance of message – the emotional tone and delivery of the message
  • Accurate targeting – to reach the right people with the right message
  • Timing schedule – to achieve timely targeting of messages
  • Feedback process – to ensure genuine two way communication

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Source: Strategies for managing change by Stephen WarrilowChange Management Expert

If you want to work with Stephen Warrilow, please visit www.strategies-for-managing-change to learn how to manage change successfully.

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