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In both proactive and reactive responses to change and in every model of change, one element remains the same: the need for change managers. There are different types of change managers and their roles encompass a variety of duties. Managers may have responsibility for change that is not ever formally dictated or outlined, or a person or group may be specifically chosen to enact or facilitate change. Described below are two formal ways in which change managers can be identified: transition management teams and change agents. Some responsibilities of change managers are then described.


In some organizations that are experiencing change, a specific group of managers is chosen to coordinate change through-out an organization. This transition management team typically consists of eight to twelve people whose full-time responsibilities are to manage and facilitate the change process in the organization. Transition management teams are responsible not only for the structural and procedural changes that occur, but also for managing emotions and resistance to change. These teams typically report to the chief executive officer of the company on a regular basis.

Transition management teams do the day-to-day work involved in change management, and they are not simply another layer of management between top management and line employees. Furthermore, they are not the planning committee; these teams do not develop the plans for the change, they only facilitate the change that is being enacted. Neither are they responsible for determining when and where change is needed, or how it will be brought about. Instead, they manage changes that have been identified and implemented by upper management. Finally, these teams are not permanent. They exist only while the organization is in flux, and they are dissolved once the company has successfully changed.


A change agent is one person who is formally in charge of guiding a change effort. The change agent is typically a part of organizational development, which is a set of planned change interventions intended to improve a company's long-term performance and survival. A change agent may be appointed from within the ranks of current company managers, or the agent may be an outside consultant who is brought in during the period of change. Unlike the transition management team, which only facilitates a change that has been identified and planned by others, the change agent is involved in all steps of organizational change. The agent helps to clarify problems, gather relevant information, assist managers in creating a plan, evaluate the plan's effectiveness, and implement the plan. After change has been successfully enacted, the change agent either returns to his or her normal duties (if this person is from within the organization), or ends his or her work with the company (if this person is a consultant).

There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing either an organizational member or an outside consultant to be a change agent. Outside consultants can be more costly and there is a greater risk for trade secrets to be leaked. Additionally, the consultant is unlikely to have the knowledge of the organization that an employee has, nor is this person likely to be trusted by others in the organization, as they would trust one of their own organizational members. However, consultants do have a more unbiased view of the organization and its problems. They may also bring more innovative or creative ideas to the company. Finally, they may be used as a scapegoat when change is implemented. That is, the negative emotions of organizational members may be directed towards the outsider rather than at the company's management, which may make for a smoother transition during the change process.


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This article was published on 2012/03/30