A change manager doesn’t work in isolation, but is part of a team of change agents. Generally, the three roles that are needed are: the change manager, project manager, and change leader.

In small companies, these roles usually reside in one or two people. In larger organizations, it is recommended to separate them to give each component sufficient space in your transformation.

So, let’s look at the distinctions between these seemingly similar roles.

Project Management Institute defines project management as “the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people.” In other words, the project manager makes sure that the transformation is delivered, On Time In Full.

In the example of the digital transformation, the project manager is responsible for getting the new system in place.

The change manager takes care of the people side: getting the workforce to understand what’s happening and adopt the new system.

As you can imagine, these two roles have to work very closely together, to avoid any unnecessary noise.

Last but not least, there is one (or multiple) change leaders. This could be any person with a leading position, like a team lead or a business unit director.

The change leader acts as the “owner” of the transformation from within the organization. They are responsible for getting the purpose and message across, championing the transformation, rallying people behind it, and role modeling the desired behaviors.

Change managers provide support to the change leaders, enabling them to effectively fulfill their role within the organization and throughout the transformation process.

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