Change ManagementLeadershipProject Management

Words Mean Everything

By Erik Van Slyke, Managing Director,

Most change leaders are highly aware of the need to manage their messages. Unfortunately, even when helped by outside consultants with green shoes (I couldn't resist!), most leaders rarely put into practice everything we know about engagement, communication and managing emotions during times of change.


Because dealing with the human side of projects is messy.

It is easier to apply Six Sigma to process redesign than deal with employees concerned about losing power, relevance or jobs after the work restructuring.  It is more immediately satisfying to complete the merger negotiation, than to bring together two very different corporate cultures.

So, rather than take on the responsibility for managing the mess, managers outsource the change management to consultants and human resources professionals.  The "change team," typically brought to the table as an afterthought, is then relegated to an all-too-often insignificant work stream that becomes expendable when budgets get tight or their work suggests that elements of the plan be reconsidered.

But maybe their insignificance is exactly the point.  Maybe corporate projects should not have a change management work stream at all.

Instead, let's keep change management where it belongs.  Let the responsibility stay with the executives and project leaders who are accountable for making the change successful.  It is ultimately their words that mean everything.