Talk Project Management  /  change management Series , Topic Series  /  Comparison between employee-facing and Enabling Roles

Employee-Facing vs. Enabling Roles

In the sections above, we outlined the key roles of the different actors involved in making changes successful in any organization. Of the tasks presented, two have direct contact with frontline employees impacted by the change, while three of the roles do more of their work behind the scenes.

Employee-Facing Roles:

Senior executives and managers/supervisors are the two functions in the change management context that interact directly with individuals who need to change. To impacted employee groups, they are the visible actors on the change stage. They deliver communications, coach, and support teams through their transitions, and represent the future state through:

  • One-to-one interactions
  • One-to-many interactions
  • Why are these two roles, the only employee-facing roles in the change management ecosystem?
  • Because these are the people that employees want to hear.

Enabling Roles:

Change managers, project teams, and project support functions facilitate change. These three roles in change management formulate and coordinate the plans that are executed by the employee-facing roles within the business. They are the producers, directors, and props teams who operate off-stage to make the production successful.

Why are these three roles typically not employee-facing in times of change?

Because employees don't know who they are and don't care what they have to say.

Implications of Employee-Facing and Enabling Roles

It is one of the essential takeaways from the discussion about roles. Change management work must ultimately come to life by influencing and coordinating many different actors. For change managers who may be resourced from members of a project team, HR or OD consultants, or from within a specialized change management group, most of the work is carried out by others.

Change managers play the role of enablers. They create easy-to-implement plans and shape the success of the executives, senior leaders, and managers throughout the organization to implement them.

Action Steps for Change Managers:

1. Begin Making a Case for Why it is Important to Manage the People Side of Change

The case will need to make to all of the other roles required for change management:

  • Project teams
  • Senior leaders
  • Middle managers and supervisors

Be sure to answer "What's in it for me?" and connect change management to what they care about, such as meeting financial objectives (for senior leaders) or delivering a project on time, on budget, and on target to achieve goals (for project teams).

2. Provide Knowledge, Training, Tools, and Coaching

For many of the different actors, applying change management is a new job requirement. You will need to help each of them build their competency for leading change. Whether it is a project team, you are working with to integrate change management into the project plan. The division president you are asking to fulfill the role of sponsor or a frontline supervisor you are requesting to coach his or her direct reports, you need to be there to provide support and answer questions. You are now the coach for the agents of change throughout your organization.

3. Apply Change Management Principles to Your Engagement of Other Roles

The Prosci ADKAR Model (source: Prosci) of individual change provides a framework for engaging players who need to fulfill the other roles in change management. The ADKAR Model describes the five key building blocks a particular need to make a change successfully.

The model states simply that for someone to effectively engage in their role in change management, they need:

  • Awareness of the need for change management
  • Desire to participate and support the application of change management
  • Knowledge on how to manage change
  • Ability to implement the required skills and behaviors for their role in change management
  • Reinforcement to sustain Change management

You cannot only send someone to change management training or send them a memo and expect them to fulfill their role. They will first need awareness of why it is essential and a desire to fulfill their purpose.

This conversation may sound very different for the CEO than it would for a frontline supervisor. Draw on best practices and research to demonstrate the specific actions you need and the biggest mistakes that are typically made by these groups. In the end, you must connect effectively, managing change with what the individual cares.

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