Over the past several decades, project management as a discipline has gained a lot of attention. While first developed specifically for use in the construction industry, project management as a methodology has become valued within any and every industry where a task is involved, from graphic design to finance and healthcare.
Change management is different from but related to project management.
Change Management in Project Management and Why It Is Important?
Change management in projects is like a toolbox with many parts, helping organizations succeed and adapt. Let’s take a closer look at what change management is, understand its details, and why it’s super important in the world of project management.
Change management and project management are two different but closely related jobs that help organizations grow. Knowing how they’re different and how they can work together is crucial for making projects successful and helping the organization grow in the long run
Project management in a nutshell
Project managers are responsible for planning, assigning, monitoring, and delivering completed projects to a client, usually by dividing tasks among team members and deciding which tools should be used to execute the project. The project manager is responsible for the installation of plans, procedures, standards, and the like to see a project completed with success. Essentially, Project Managers are supposed to design the structure of and handle how tasks are going to help a project be completed.
Change management in a nutshell
Change management is the personal implementation of the practices required for an organizational shift to see a project through, with as little a challenge presented to team members. Whereas project management addresses the ideas and planning aspect of organizational roles and deciding the means necessary for completing a project, change management addresses the human aspect of communicating duties monitoring how well personnel are performing their tasks, and supporting the individual team members.
Can and Should Project Managers also be Effective Change Managers?
Quick answer: yes and yes. But, why would this even be a point worth making? Well, besides the expense of hiring separate managers for each organizational role, the most effective project manager can and should be able to handle both the responsibilities of managing a company’s resources to see a project through, while paying attention to and addressing how the team members are handling new tasks.
Every new project involves some level of change. Whether it’s repeating past tasks for a new client or something entirely new, each project requires a different approach. Change is a constant in organizations. An experienced project manager knows how to delegate tasks and communicate plans to their team. They steer the ship. Integrating change management makes a good project manager even better. In project management, it means the manager not only knows what tasks to assign but also ensures the team is aware of upcoming plans and ready for new tasks before they start.
As Susanne Madsen, the author of the book “The Power of Project Leadership”states: “A good project manager isn’t just someone who can deliver a new product to the client, but someone who ensures that the client embraces the new product and uses it as intended. This entails building the new product with the end user in mind and to continually engage the end user throughout the process.”
the Project Management Pulse of the Profession study institute found that only 64% of projects are successful, completed on time, and within budget. That means more than a third of projects don’t go as planned! This shows that many project managers can do better by adding helpful practices to their management. Integrating change management lets project managers have a complete handle on their project resources.
Integrating Change Management into Project Management
Good managers excel in people skills, conveying tasks, procedures, and company culture to their teams. They also update executives on performance. Change management ensures managers prioritize task completion and personal satisfaction for each team member. While it’s part of organizational management, incorporating change management shows a deliberate focus on employee well-being.
Being a change manager as a Project Manager isn’t just about monitoring employee satisfaction, though that’s crucial. Unhappy employees can lead to high turnover rates, posing a threat to deadlines and project budgets. A Project Manager with integrated change management practices stays tuned to their team’s needs, identifying and addressing pain points regularly.
Change Management: for the Health of your Future Projects
Consider this: your team is people first, employees second, and research shows that most people are fundamentally resistant to change, or slow to adapt – which is natural. A skilled Project Manager should be well versed in not only communicating the what, when, how, and who for project planning, but also communicating to staff the why tasks are being assigned, and providing guidance when staff struggle or determine to change task assignments between personnel.
Again, Susanne Madsen suggests an effective way to overcome resistance to change: “The best way to do so is to listen to employees and to make them feel safe and open-minded about the proposed changes. Sometimes project managers also need to slow down the rate of change in order to win people over.”
In this infographic, you can see that barriers to organizational change are almost equally shared between management and employees. A project manager who prioritizes change management is addressing both ends. Think of a project manager as a director and a change manager as a leader. By combining both direction and leadership qualities, your project manager increases the chances of delivering projects on time and under budget. People are as important as the process. There’s a lot of information online on incorporating change management into project management. However, a project manager can start the journey of becoming an effective change manager with three simple steps.
Coherently communicating company vision changes to personnel
2. Focusing on critical success factors of personnel – paying attention to performance changes
3. Leading with empathy Change can be challenging, but it should never be impossible or lead to staff getting burnt out.
While Project Managers should always have organizational success in mind, they should understand that the organization is made up of people, and during transitions, people can become confused or frustrated if it is new territory. However, as an effective change manager, the Project Managers will know what to look for in employee performance and how to guide them through an organizational shift.