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How do I Develop Change Management Skills?

Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth

Those who wish to implement a skill should first learn all they can about it, and then find ways to practice it in daily life. This is as true of change management skills as of any other skill set. Discover all you can about the theories and processes of change management by researching, reading, and gaining formal training. Then practice — by analysis, everyday scenarios, and formulating plans — for hypothetical change.

The term 'change management skills' refers to an individual's ability to successfully shepherd people, teams, resources, processes, and dollars through a period of change in a proactive and structured manner. This may mean a company merger, a shift in organizational structure, the implementation of a new technology or process, or simply a shift in goals and perspectives. Change management skills can be a valuable addition to your business skills arsenal, and can also be used in your personal life. An effective change manager can both implement a new company-wide process with minimal disruption to daily operations, and also help her children become enthusiastic rather than reluctant about a new town, home, and school.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

One avenue for developing change management skills is to take a course or seminar on the subject. Such classes are often offered through the continuing education departments of institutes of higher learning, and through companies who specialize in business training. Courses are often offered at night and on weekends so that they do not interfere with work schedules. A possible barrier to this option is that these classes are often expensive, but, if your company has a learning benefit, it may be willing to share or even cover the costs.

If cost or time prohibit you from formal training, you may be able to develop change management skills on your own. Numerous books, DVDs, and online resources are based on the topic of change management. These materials often break the overall skill into individual skills that can be mastered, and may include practical applications that allow you to practice your newly acquired knowledge.

You can also begin practicing on your own. Change managers must be able to objectively analyze all aspects of change, and be able to predict and plan for the effects of change. For example, if you are implementing a new accounting system, you will need to know what it costs, how old information will be imported, how it will change the daily work of end users, and also how those users are likely to feel about the change. You will then need to form a plan for managing each element, including end-user training and morale.

You may not have a new accounting system to practice on, but you can use the same process on a less impactful change. For instance, consider what would happen if you changed the organizational system of your e-mail inbox archives from 'by date' to 'by recipient.' Write down how this action would effect your efficiency and your daily process, then come up with a plan to make it work. Practicing change management skills on small changes often helps you manage large changes in the future.

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      Businessman with a briefcase