Three hiring managers share what their opinion on what they look for when they hire change managers.
I have to say this question does give me a wry smile when I think about the numerous times I have asked this very question when meeting with clients and the variety of responses that it evokes. I think "change management" is possibly the single most debated discipline in which people’s views seem to vary to opposite ends of the spectrum on what makes the ideal background for a Change Manager.
To demonstrate, here are three responses I received just recently when I asked the question:
What makes a great change manager?
Client A. "We have had the best results bringing people in that look at change as a discipline, who have grown up in consulting firms but ideally will have conducted their first Change Management role post consulting before we hire them. We would be agnostic on methodology although some demonstrated methodology is useful."
Client B. "We have found that people who have gained experience in project management and understand the delivery aspects of projects before transitioning across to change make the best change managers as they understand what is required to get things delivered. We favour ADKAR and PROSCI methodologies. We would not consider people who have sat in HR transformation roles as this would be a separate area."
Client C. "We would not hire people that have been program or project managers in the past and transitioned across into change. We are looking for dedicated change managers who have experience working on large-scale programmes $150-$200m plus and have demonstrated end to end change management experience. We would consider people from a HR transformation background depending on the type of programme, if it was a divestment etc and some employee and industrial relations experience can be invaluable."
Three different clients at three different organisations with three opposing views! The only similarity they have is that they are all heavy recruiters of change resources for their respective organisations.
great candidates could have come from any of the above backgrounds and what sets them apart is more their individual capabilityAs a recruiter meeting change professionals on a daily basis, I can honestly say it is a tough space to recruit in as people seem to have some very set ideas of what makes a great hire. In my experience, great candidates could have come from any of the above backgrounds and what sets them apart is more their individual capability as opposed to the above specifics.
If I look at the talent pool of change professionals we work with, I can honestly say that we work with great talent in all of the above backgrounds: consulting, people who have moved across from project delivery as well as those who have started their careers in a more in house HR/change roles and progressed through.
So what makes a great change manager?
I agree if you are in change management and working in the project delivery space, it is a huge advantage if you understand the deliverables and the role the change manager plays to ensure the business benefits are realised. Strong end to end experience is clearly an advantage, so that you understand the whole change journey and how each stage pieces together, this along with excellent stakeholder engagement skills. I would argue that this could come from any of the above backgrounds but our clients may sometimes disagree.
I would be keen to hear your thoughts and experiences on this…