January 21, 2018


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

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 – 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.

Please subscribe to Virtual Project Consulting (top right) not to miss the next article in the Change Management series.

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