How to hire a Change Management Rockstar (the job description, tips and insights)

Version 3

    Hi readers!


    It’s been awhile since I last had the opportunity to write a post due to a hectic travel schedule recently (including the weird and wonderful experience of being invited to be a 'professor' at the College of Extraordinary Experiences last weekend).


    I have been meaning to write about the change management job description for some time, and this afternoon I finally got the chance to pull my thoughts together and share them with you below.




    I have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to hire and work with many change management extraordinaires during my time leading the change management team for Google Cloud (a.k.a. Enterprise / Google for Work). I’ve also provided advice to many of our partners and customers on the skills and attributes that they should consider when looking to hire a change manager within their organisation. With the above in mind, I thought this might make a relevant blog post for this community.


    A dedicated change manager?


    When I joined the (then) Google Enterprise team (many moons ago!) with the remit of establishing a change management methodology for our customers to follow, neither our customers or our partners had any dedicated change management resources to support their projects. Either change management wasn’t considered a ‘thing’ that needed to happen or, it was the project manager or deployment engineer who was also expected to do a bit of change management too. Those brave people wore many hats! The challenge of which, as we know - is that when someone wears many hats, there will inevitably be one hat that takes precedence. Given that the wearers of these multiple hats typically came from a technical background, it was the technical hat and work that was prioritised.


    Now that Cloud technology is moving into the mainstream, and digital or business ‘transformation’ is at the top of every executive's agenda there is much greater awareness of the importance of change management. These change and transformation projects can only be successful when employees change the way that they work. And this behaviour change is going to be exponentially more successful when a structured change management approach is used.


    Having a dedicated CM resource is becoming increasingly common in the projects that the team and I are connected with, which is a great indicator that teams and organisations are realising how important having dedicated support and help for people to deal with the change is in the success of projects. This observation also aligns with the trends in the latest Prosci Report where 76% of respondents to the survey use of dedicated change management resources - up from 74% in 2013 report. However it is interesting to note that there are some regional differences - such as in the the Middle East where this number is much lower at 60% and APAC 70%. The countries / regions most likely to have dedicated change management support are LATAM (95%) and US (79%)


    Where do change managers come from?


    Typically the people I’ve found to be successful in change management roles come from one of two broad backgrounds. Either they come from an HR, Learning & Development, Communications or Training type background, or they hail from a Project Manager or Program Management background.  However from my personal perspective, more important than someone’s background, is their passion, energy and willingness to learn.


    There are multiple Change Management Certifications / Accreditations that are now available that you might look for in a potential candidate, including the following:


    Also, for those readers that are members of our Google Cloud Premier Partner Program, you can of course participate in our Premier Partner Change Management Training course (Apps400)


    Having said the above, I personally wouldn’t discount a potential candidate for not having any formal qualifications, simply because this is a relatively new field and my preference is for quick learners with the right attitude and passion for the subject.


    What does the job description look like?


    Here I’ve drafted a generic job description that could be customised and used for a variety of change manager roles.


    Position: Change Management Specialist [generic]

    Position Description

    The Change Management Specialist will play a critical role in ensuring projects and organisational change initiatives meet their objectives on time and on budget by increasing employee adoption and engagement, supporting and inspiring employees to change behaviours. This person will be involved in change projects that include changes to organisational culture, business processes, systems and technology. The Change Management Specialist will act as a coach for senior leaders and executives in helping them fulfill the role of change sponsor. They will also provide direct support and coaching to front-line managers and supervisors as they help their direct reports through transitions. The Change Management Specialist will work closely with project and technical teams to ensure alignment on shared deadlines and deliverables. The ability to inspire others, connect with people across all levels of an organisation, empathy and having outstanding communication skills are critical for this role.

    Role and responsibilities

    • Apply a structured methodology and lead change management activities
    • Create change management strategy and plans
    • Complete change management organisational analysis
    • Design and deliver communication activities
    • Design and deliver training activities
    • Identify and manage anticipated resistance
    • Consult and coach project teams
    • Coach managers and supervisors to lead their teams through change
    • Collect and share success stories across the organisation
    • Support organisational (re)design and the definition of any new roles and responsibilities required
    • Define and measure success metrics and monitor change progress

    Skills and qualifications

    • Experience leading large-scale organisational change efforts
    • Experience and knowledge of change management principles, methodologies and tools (CIPD, PROSCI, ACMP certifications desired, but not required)
    • High levels of empathy and emotional intelligence
    • Passion energy and enthusiasm for new things
    • Exceptional communication skills – both written and verbal
    • Ability to establish and maintain strong relationships with people across all levels of an organisation
    • Flexible and adaptable; able to work in ambiguous situations
    • Organised and able to deal with and create complex project plans for large projects
    • Problem solving and root cause identification skills
    • Team player and able to work collaboratively with and through others
    • Business acumen and understanding of organisational issues and challenges
    • Familiarity with project management approaches, tools and phases of the project life cycle


    Any tips on how to hire one of these magical people?


    To close the article I wanted to give some insights into the attributes that we look for when hiring people at Google, in case there is anything here that might be interesting to you on your search for the perfect new employee. If you are interested to read more about this topic check out this book 'Work Rules' by Laszlo Bock (our former SVP of People Operations at Google).


    Regardless of the role that we are looking to fill, candidates always participate in at least four separate interviews - one focused on each of the following four attributes:

    1. Role related knowledge (RRK): Does this person have prior experience that is relevant to the role?  This is the least important of our four attributes, and often we will specifically look for people with no RRK in the specific subject, to ensure that we have teams with diverse thought / backgrounds.
    2. General Cognitive Ability (GCA): Is this person a quick learner, can they demonstrate logical thought processes and problem solving ability?
    3. Leadership: This doesn’t mean that we only look for people who’ve managed or lead others others - it means we are looking for people who will step in and help others out (emergent leadership), people who will lead projects and also those that demonstrate ‘thought leadership’ - the willingness to suggest and try new ways of doing things. It is an important element of leadership - that people also know when it is appropriate to step back and demonstrate followership.
    4. Googliness: this refers to cultural fit. Is the person comfortable in ambiguity, are they collaborative, who are curious, passionate and can bring different perspectives to the table.


    We have a bias busting approach to interviewing at Google, whereby all employees are trained up to interview candidates and hiring great people is considered the responsibility of all employees - not just something that the recruitment team do. It might well be that a Googler gets the opportunity to interview their potential boss or teammates. Additionally we adhere to the following rules:

    1. There must be at least one female interviewer (currently Google has more male employees than female employees - we are working hard to redress the balance)
    2. There must be at least one interviewer from outside the business unit that the role will be based - to make sure that the ‘cultural fit’ applies across the whole org
    3. All interviewers who interview the candidate must strongly back the hiring of the candidate. If only three of the four are strong supporters - that person will not be hired.


    I’m not suggesting that other organisations should take on this exact approach to hiring, but I thought some readers might find this interesting to understand and maybe there are some elements of our approach that you might find useful to consider in your own organisations.


    Hiring the right people is the single most important that an organisation can do.


    Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, comments or questions on this topic!