How to Build a Change Team

Build Change Team

A change team can have many different shapes and sizes depending on the need, however, you’re usually going to have the following: 

  • A change lead: ultimately, they lead the team

  • A communications and engagement lead: this is often just called the comms lead or the engagement lead; the two terms are used interchangeably, but someone who’s ultimately accountable for writing and delivering communications associated with the change

  • A training and adoption lead, if required: to complete a training needs analysis, and design and deliver training

  • Programme Management Office lead, if required: to manage the plan of activity centrally. This role may be quite distinct from the change team, but will need to be highly connected to it.

Within the comms and training spaces, you might have teams beneath these two leads, depending on the size and scale of the change. If you’re talking about really big, large-scale transformation, the comms team alone could be a team of three or four. Training could be even more if you’ve got lots of people out delivering training. Or you might just have one person who’s ultimately covering both comms and training because the scale isn’t very big and you don’t need more than that. Your programme management office lead would really only be required if you were doing large-scale transformation, where you’ve got that person who’s supporting the change lead ultimately with the project management side, so managing the change plan, tracking all the actions and activity, potentially producing weekly or monthly status updates. If the change team is sitting within a larger program structure where you’re going to be doing status updating, that type of thing, and broadly supporting other delivery activity.

You might also have, if you’re talking about very large scale programs, local change leads out within different geographies or countries. So if you’re doing change across a broad geographical landscape, you might need a central change team, and then change leads that looks after Asia, Europe etc. So that is common where you’ve got really large-scale change programs.

For each role it’s important to articulate role descriptions somewhere. You don’t want a change team where people are not quite sure what they should be doing, or which bits they’re accountable for. You want everyone to be really clear on what they need to do, particularly if you’re hiring people into a role or you’re out in the business asking people to give a percentage of their time out of their day job to also do these roles. Be really clear with them what’s expected and what they need to be doing.

Once you’ve got your change team all set up and resourced and structured, what are the things that you want to be doing to ensure you’re all operating really effectively? Some of the key things that really high-performing change teams will be focused on are:

  1. Working alongside leaders to make sure they’re fully on board with what’s going on and role modeling the changes that you need to see

  2. Understanding the stakeholder landscape. The stakeholder landscape is a really key part of any change program. Who are those stakeholders that we need to engage? How are we going to manage them?

  3. Raising risks early so that you can get the right help and support before things progress too far.

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