The Change Manager - Role and Responsibilities

change management Nov 15, 2023
project success comes from the change manager

The Change Manager

A change manager is the person responsible within a project in managing the people-related requirements and impacts of the change and normally reports to a project manager or program manager.

The change manager helps projects meet the objectives of the organization, project, budget, time frame, and resources.

Although the exact role that any change manager may undertake within a project is subject to the nature of the project and of the organization, their responsibilities related to a project generally include the following:

  • Development of role descriptions.
  • Individual performance evaluations.
  • Manage the inevitable interdependencies of project tasks.
  • Communications up, down, across, and out of the project.
  • Training of people to be able to undertake new roles and tasks being developed by the project.
  • Minimization of employee resistance.
  • Maximization of employee engagement, cooperation, and utilization.
  • Management of cultural aspects of the proposed change.
  • Reward and recognition issues during the project.
  • Coaching of senior leaders and executives related to the project.
  • Coaching of frontline managers and supervisors.
  • Selection and management of change agents and change Champions.
  • Bringing the project in on time and on budget.

Depending on the size and complexity of both the project and the organization, the change manager may have a number of direct reports who will be added to the team progressively as needed:

  • Communications specialist
  • Training specialist(s)
    • Content development writers
    • eLearning developers
    • Training course and material testers
    • Manual writers
    • Course scheduler
    • Course presenters
    • Course evaluators
  • Culture change specialist
  • Intranet manager

Why is this Important?

The role of the change manager (CM) is critical to the success of projects for a range of reasons.

The core reason is that projects impact people, and unless the people are managed, the organization will not be able to enjoy fully the benefits promised by the project.

More specifically, the change manager is important in the following areas:

  • Role descriptions. The CM develops appropriate role descriptions for project-related roles. Without this, the people who are expected to operate within the change environment will not know their responsibilities, accountabilities, or boundaries.
  • Performance evaluations. In relation to the changed environment, and in conjunction with the organization’s HR function, the CM develops the KPIs and KPOs associated with change-related activities and then develops methods to evaluate performance against those KPOs/KPIs.
  • Communications. The CM develops and coordinates all communications up, down, across, and out of the project. In this manner, the project presents a unified face, with consistent approaches to all aspects of the change or project.
  • Training. The CM ensures that all change-impacted staff (and other relevant stakeholders) are trained in the systems, processes, and requirements of the changed environment. Without this training, those who need to interact with the changed environment won’t know how, therefore compromising the benefits of the change and increasing frustration among those impacted by the change. The training task includes scheduling of trainees, coordinating venues, developing training materials, delivery of the training program, evaluating training effectiveness, and mopping up all those trainees who failed their evaluations or missed their scheduled training.
  • Employee resistance. By utilizing change management tools and methodologies, the CM minimizes employee (and stakeholder) resistance to the proposed change. Without management of resistance, the organization might suffer from staff (or stakeholder) blowback and delays. At its worst, the project may be sabotaged by staff frightened or threatened by the project. The time, cost, and resource implications of staff resistance are potentially very significant.
  • Employee engagement. The CM works to maximize employee engagement, cooperation, and utilization in order to facilitate and lubricate the change process. The friction caused by employee (or stakeholder) resistance is negated with strong employee (and stakeholder) cooperation and engagement. Ideally, all employees understand the benefits of the project and support its implementation.
  • Culture and politics. The CM manages the cultural and political aspects of the proposed change. This is critical because the change strategy must reflect the organization’s cultural start point and match the speed and type of change with the organization’s change history and its propensity to change. A project within an organization with a history of strong resistance to change, without a strong cultural resistance strategy is headed for disaster. The CM must also understand the various strengths and weaknesses of key organizational players. People who perceive the proposed change as a threat will use organizational politics to play the project to their advantage. Therefore, without strong political appreciation and political skills to manage the internal “plays,” a project will sink in internal acrimony.
  • Reward and recognition. In relation to the changed environment and in conjunction with the organization’s HR function, the CM develops a framework for rewards associated with change-related activities. Without this task, the organization will face employee resistance if roles are expanded to take in new tasks and responsibilities without suitable modification or augmentation of the organization’s rewards structure.
  • Coaching. The CM coaches senior leaders, executives, frontline managers, and supervisors to ensure they understand the project, its general implications, and specific impacts on the manager’s own area of responsibility. Without this, senior people within the organization will resist the change or demand unreasonable changes to it.
  • Change agents. Change agents and change champions from within the organization become the voice of the project throughout. Without this advocacy, employees will not have a place to go to have their questions and concerns discussed and resolved. This aspect of change management and the CM’s role in managing it is a critical determinant of the successful implementation of people-related aspects of change.


  1. Examine the last five projects undertaken by your organization.
  2. Identify for each, whether the change management responsibilities outlined in this section were adhered to.
  3. What were the impacts on the organization and the project of any responsibilities not adequately delivered?
  4. Contemplate your findings.
  5. What are the implications on future projects?


If you have or suspect negative responses to these issues, then your leadership or the leadership of others may be compromised.

Do you want to know more? Then call us at [email protected]

We’re proud to advise that the authors of this piece are Advisory & Mentoring directors.

 Need a private and confidential meeting? Register here.