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Change roles

Our project shepherd (or sponsor) is the highest authority accountable for the change. The project shepherd demonstrates the change leadership behaviours and mindset that lead to project success (see Section 1: How to get into a change leadership mindset, and the change leader worksheet below). The shepherd has authority to unlock (or seek) funding, resolve issues, approve major deliverables and provide high-level direction. Common responsibilities, which can be accomplished with the help of the supporting change leadership team and key stakeholders, include:

  • Identifying goals and measurable outcomes for the change
  • Assessing gaps between current and future ways
  • Ensuring stakeholders understand the value and importance of addressing the gaps
  • Providing necessary support and resources for successful change progression and completion

Being a change shepherd

There are a number of practices that the change shepherd can follow to better prepare and lead the change. These are informed by a change leadership mindset (there is more on this in How to get into a change leadership mindset in section 1). Below is a worksheet that can help us identify whether we are fulfilling our role as the change shepherd. These are to be revisited throughout the process.

Role of the change shepherdCompleteAction requiredNeed support
Clarify case for change and scope
I understand and can communicate why the change is needed

I understand and can explain to others the desired outcomes of the change

I understand the full scope of the change, including the specific organizational initiatives, and the cultural and people initiatives
Develop change strategy and process plan
I have created the platform designed an integrated change strategy that will produce the outcomes of this change, including:
– Change roles
– Change requirements
– Conditions for success
– Change infrastructure
– Realistic timetable
– Overall roadmap showing how all initiatives will be carried out
– How we will effectively run the on-going business
Support people
I understand employees’ personal needs and how this change impacts them

I invite and can respond to people’s reactions to this change

I have designed our change strategy to minimize the human trauma of this change

I have created the conditions for maximum empowerment, commitment, learning and contribution to this change
Ensure human capacity
I understand the mindset, skills and knowledge required for the change to succeed

I understand employees’ actual beliefs and behaviours, and how they do and do not align with making this change a success

A plan to develop employees’ mindsets, skills and knowledge is included in the change strategy
Model the change
I know what I have to change in my own behaviours and mindset to achieve the desired state and I am willing to do so

I actively demonstrate the mindset, behaviours, ways of being and relating required by the change
I have identified, with the change leadership team, our ongoing leadership role in communicating about the change

I have a communication process that allows employees to provide regular input and feedback

I respond in a timely way to the input and reactions I gather from people/stakeholders
Monitor, learn and adjust plans
I have identified and communicated key change objectives to be reached

I frequently monitor the effectiveness of the change process and responsiveness of the organization

I use feedback and new information to adjust plans and improve the change process

I actively provide information and feedback to other change leaders to support their success

Our champion(s)is(are) the face of the initiative and will bring the change vision to life. They are influential in a particular sector, in their department and/or across the government and usually occupy an executive role. Common responsibilities include:

  • Supporting the project shepherd in decision-making
  • Mobilizing key stakeholders in supporting and implementing the change
  • Demonstrating desired behaviours at the onset of the initiative (early adopter)
  • Involving and engaging all stakeholders and sustaining employee morale
  • Inviting stakeholders to participate in an active or coordinative role, as appropriate

The organization’s senior change leadership team is the group of senior executives with decision-making authority who are directly mandated to lead the change initiative. In large organizations this group could be made up of a sample of representatives

The senior leadership cadre consists of senior leadership (executives and managers) who will apply the new changes in their branch/sector/unit. They are not necessarily part of the senior change leadership team. However, they will need to exercise positive leadership over the change.

The dedicated change team is mandated with supporting the shepherd, the senior change leadership team. They are change experts and coaches involved in supporting the initiative. Such a team is generally led by a change director/manager who is in charge of specific aspects of the change. Common responsibilities include:

  • Coordinating and integrating activities to realize the objectives of the change
  • Ensuring the day-to-day management of the change
  • Planning and directing change activities

For more details on change roles, we can consult Creating a Change Leadership Team: What Roles Are Critical? from Being First.

The disciplines of change management/change leadership, project management, and business process management all offer structures of roles and responsibilities at both the individual and group levels. We can keep in mind that we may need to harmonize our change roles with those based on these other disciplines to simplify the structure we are building for the purpose of leading and managing our change initiative.

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