Change Management I

Success is human



Sandra Effenberger
Sandra Effenberger

How does change management become successful?

No project is the same as another. High demands are placed on every project manager and participant in order to achieve the defined goal. In the classic view of projects, quality, time and budget are often put into relation and constantly observed. But what about the additional changes that occur? What is the reason that in the end the result was achieved, but is not used as it was intended?

A project is initiated and already in the first steps changes are worked out on the professional level. A number of companies offer different methods with which projects can be successfully implemented.

Dealing with the findings from the project

How do you measure whether a project is successful or not? Is it enough if the technical result is achieved at the end? Answer these questions for yourself. It is not important whether you are part of the project team or a user of the result of the project. Both perspectives offer a chance in the project reviews to show what has been achieved through the change.

By now, at the latest, you will wonder why we have taken up this topic. Quite simply: in our experience, the technical goal is given such priority that one of the most important resources does not receive enough attention. Both the result and the subsequent "commissioning" of a project depend to a decisive degree on people.

When changes are made, those affected by them must be taken along. Only when it is understood: "Why are these changes happening and what do they mean for me?" can they be carried. "Logical", you will now think. Yet it does not always work. Why not?

Initial situation

Let's take a step back. The management gives you a project. As project manager, you now have the task of putting together a team. The number and selection of experts is left to you as project manager. The first project meeting serves to communicate the task at hand to the team. Here you also present the desired division of labour and, ideally, the rules for communication and information distribution. This results in the individual work packages, based on the technical competences.

In this phase, it is often not thought of to appoint a team member to take care of the changes and their effects. It is not always necessary for the project leader to take on this task.Most of the time this is not possible because of his or her responsibility for different projects. Especially if the project is very complex and may involve procedural innovations. It is not uncommon for colleagues outside the team to be forgotten and only included at the end. The more openly a project and its results are shared, the sooner you will be able to "get colleagues on board".

Put yourself in your colleagues' shoes. They hear that something is coming up, but they don't know exactly what. How open-minded would they be about the change if they were informed in more detail? If they were told what the background to the change was?


But not only externally, but also within the team itself, it is important to ask "Are we still on the same path? Involving external people also counts here. Only when you are sure that the whole team is on the same level of understanding and you trust your team will it be successful. Your job is to lead the team and to identify and resolve conflicts. Your job should not be to polarise.

Communication rules

In addition to the distribution of information, there is another valuable component in communication, the way we interact with each other. Take a look at how your project meetings are run. Is there a framework for discussion that allows each person to experience appreciation? How do you deal with it when you notice that not everything is going positively from the participants' point of view?

As project leader, you are assigned the task of moderator. Do you manage to involve all participants through targeted questioning techniques? Do you repeat what you have heard to show that what was said was understood? Do you find positive formulations when something is questioned due to mistrust or lack of understanding?

If you include feedback rounds, thoughts, feelings, needs and interests can be expressed. The longer a project lasts, the more the view of the individual changes. Capture the different perspectives in order to check and adjust the priority of the project phase and its contents at any time. Because every project is human.