The Challenge of Change for Charities

The role of the Change Manager is often misunderstood, but here is a reassuring view of how they work, and what is involved in this sensitive area of management.

Many of us have worked for, or had contact with, charities or organisations that seem stuck with a “we’ve-always-done-it-like-this” approach, have ceased to be effective, or are even approaching a state of crisis which threatens their future.
Resistance to change is understandable, but sometimes there are times when it becomes necessary to change the culture of an organisation, modernise its approach to the work it does, and provide resulting benefits to its beneficiaries and staff.

Change Managers are experienced in providing a structured approach to moving staff, teams, and organisations from how they work now, to how they might work more effectively in the future. It is a highly sensitive area of management, and requires specialist skills, training and experience rarely found in the management teams of most organisations. Undertaken well it almost always requires that specific expertise to help employees accept and embrace changes in their current business environment.

Before undertaking the challenge of organisational change, you may wish to consider the following questions:

 Why do we want the change?
 What do we want to achieve with the proposed change?
 Who will be affected by this change, and how are they likely to react to it?
 How much of this change can we achieve ourselves?
 How much change do we need help with?
 How will we know when we have achieved it?

Preparation is everything. From the outset, your Change Manager will collaborate with you to really understand the starting point, the status quo, the internal sensitivities, not to mention the short and long term implications of change to the success of the organisation.

Prepare to be surprised - a good Change Manager may also be positive and supportive, inclusive and collaborative, and surprisingly optimistic!

Once you have decided to appoint a Change Manager you can together start to structure a programme of change to address your internal issues. To ensure success, your implementation programme will be fully supported and effectively managed. Communication with staff and other stakeholders will be prompt and effective.   A clear focus combined with inbuilt flexibility ensures that your plan will not be derailed at any stage, nor will it deviate from the direction required by your Trustees.

The approach of effective Change Managers is to support the process with thoughtful planning, sensitive implementation and above all, consultation with, and involvement of those affected by the changes.

Of course, a one-size-fits-all approach will inevitably leave you feeling uneasy about a good outcome! Experienced Change Managers will be in a position to offer support in a range of ways – on a day-to-day basis, by providing consultation on a limited programme of change, by developing a bespoke programme for your charity, by driving forward your programme to a successful conclusion, and in many other ways. The way of working will be your choice and very much depends upon your own requirements.

Above all it pays to remember that Change Managers take pride in, and measure their own success by ensuring that your change is for the better, and that your charity goes from strength to strength!