How project managers can lead change

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 By Jack Nevison

All companies go through periods of transition, whether in leadership or work practice. To successfully implement change, PMs must actively involve their teams in finding the new way forward. People naturally resist change, especially within organizations that have failed to enact effective change in the past.

Cynthia Owens, a senior consultant at XPLANE, specializing in change management, recently shared her opinion on the importance of people-centered design when planning for a company's future. Her method defuses the passive resistance so common in employees facing change by showing the team (and the PM) that they are at the center of change, not an afterthought.

To be successful, change must also be easily explained and understood. More complex information should be shared only with personnel directly affected by it. The advantage of people-centered design is that change is advanced with a clear understanding by everyone of what needs to be accomplished and why.

The people-centered change method is based on asking questions and seeking feedback from team members, not only about the change itself, but also the process that will be followed, and why. Any proposed change should fit in with the company's mission and values, and this relationship should be communicated to the team as well. Once employees understand the change and its intent, Owens found that they are better able to focus on the values and behaviors that excite them about moving forward.

New Leaf Project Management's free white paper "Earned Value Benchmarks for Re-baselining a Project" can show you more strategies to successfully manage your team through change. In addition, our online series of QPM games let you learn while you earn PDU credits for PMP recertification.

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