Change has become our new everyday life.

The leaders’ efforts in this work are decisive for the success of the restructuring and changes. Change management is needed when the business is to change its organizational structure, digitize services, adjust work processes, streamline procurement processes or reduce staffing. But what really sets change management apart from good management in general?

Who does what in change processes?

Clear leadership through change requires clarified roles and responsibilities because change processes require multi-level leadership. Let’s take a closer look at the role of the top manager, middle manager and project manager.

The role of top manager

Top management has a particularly important role in setting direction and communicating clear goals for a change process, i.e. deciding why. We see from experience that this is crucial to the success of a change process. A clear top leader who gives direction to the change is important. Furthermore, it is essential that top management establish good structures, roles and rules of play for the change process to contribute to an orderly implementation. If the organization itself initiates the change, goals and direction will be decided by the management itself. In public enterprises, changes may also be politically initiated or otherwise determined from the outside. For the business to implement the change, it will be important for top management to contribute to understanding and loyalty to the change. This requires, inter alia, frequent and open communication with the entire organization.

The role of middle managers.

In recent years, the middle manager has been decisive for whether a change is successful. A middle manager is often the leader of change, and not necessarily the leader of a change process. This means that they should contribute to change and development but are often not part of the change process itself. At the same time, the middle manager must take care of ongoing operations and contribute to stability. The middle manager is the closest to the staff and meets their reactions to the change directly. In addition to helping employees understand the company’s direction and strategy, they will communicate upwards to top management. The middle management role can be described as balance art and translation between the strategic and the operational is an important part of the role. It is in the role of the middle manager to implement the changes and make sure that they happen in practice. This places great demands on both roles understanding and endurance. The middle manager can also play an active role in the change process and participate in project work or lead parts of the change process.

The role of the project manager

Major change processes are often organized as a program or project within the organization. The project manager has an important role as change manager because it is often this person who practically manages, plans and facilitates the implementation of the changes. The project manager must ensure that the changes support strategic goals, create good processes and ensure that the management has the support they need in implementing the changes. This means both looking at the whole and ensuring the practical tasks that are within the project. Stakeholder management and facilitation are key tasks for the project manager as a change manager. This lays the foundation for good risk management and profit realization in the project and for the changes to reach certain goals. The project manager can be an intermediate manager or employee of the company, often the support of consultants is also obtained to assist in the work. From experience, it may be wise to choose employees with trust and legitimacy throughout the organization to fulfill a project manager role or have heavy responsibilities in a project secretariat.

The role of HR plays a key role in all change work.

Since HR works with both management and development of the organization, managers and employees, they possess a comprehensive understanding of the business that makes them good strategic advisors to the management in a change process. At the same time, HR is operational and is often responsible for preparing and executing the process itself. They ensure involvement, provide support and training to the managers, and are advisers in relation to the formal by, for example, reorganization, relocation or staffing. Sometimes HR takes on project management, at other times they participate in change projects with special responsibility for safeguarding human resources in the business. In restructuring processes, HR must both take on the employer role and implement the employer’s management right while at the same time safeguarding the individual employee given the employer’s duty of care.

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