Competition in the modern day business community has become cutting edge and the economic agents have to seek new means of creating competitive advantages. This situation has been brought about by the emergence of numerous important changes, all which generated important impacts upon organizational operations. For instance, the customers are now no longer the people buying what the company is offering, but they have become so powerful that they demand what to be produced and sold (Longenecker, Moore, Palich and Petty, 2005). Then, the employees, once the force operating the machines, are now the most valuable organizational asset (Hickman, 2005) and this is due to their ability to create intellectual capital. Then, there are also changes in the state of the economy, the development of the technologies or the demands of the stakeholders, such as the public, the governmental and non-governmental institutions and so on (Paul, Eva, Yeates, Hindle, Cadle and Rollaston, 2010).
In this dynamic context, the sole constant is represented by change and the ultimate success of the economic agents depends on their ability to identify the changes in the micro and macro environments and adapt to them in a quick and efficient manner. In other words, it is of the utmost importance for economic agents to embrace and develop business models based on the principles of change management. At the center of change management sits the change leader, who must possess vast skills that allow him / her to become engaged in various change management programs and also to develop new mechanisms of approaching organizational change. At this stage, it is the scope of this project to identify and assess the skills necessary for change managers, as these are presented in the literature of the twenty first century.
2. Literature review
The first step in addressing the topic of managerial skills necessary to manage change is represented by the comprehension of the concept of change management. In this order of ideas, Joseph F. Gustave (2007) states:
"Change management is a loosely defined term that refers to a broad array of activities and initiatives that occur in the workplace. As such, in order to be effective, a change management program must integrate those program elements that address any of the variety of elements: communication, training and testing, program planning, market analysis and implementation of new policies and procedures" (Gustin, 2007).
George Vukotich (2011) argues that a successful change management process is based on the gradual implementation of ten crucial steps, as follows:
Understanding the change and the need for the change
Assessing the impact of the change
Assembling a team to be in charge of the change management process
Building a vision for the change
Enforcing a change strategy
Winning support for the change process
Communicating effectively with all parties and throughout the entire change process
Recognizing and overcoming the challenges in the change process
Measuring the success of the change strategy, and last
Drawing and remembering lessons learnt from the implementation of the change (Vukotich, 2011).
A crucial role in the success of the change process is represented by the ability of the leader to adequately enforce and implement the change process. In order to fulfill this role, the manager has to possess a wide array of skills. Esther Cameron and Mike Green (2012) centralized skills from various sources and created a rather comprehensive list of the skills required for a successful change manager to be able to enforce various change problems and also to develop new successful approaches to change.
The central strength of the skills identified by Cameron and Green (2012) is represented by the fact that the two authors identified five different stages of the change management process and four levels at which skills are required. Specifically, the five stages of change management include (1) entry level, (2) contracting level, (3) the diagnosis level, (4) the intervening level and (5) the evaluating level. In terms of the skill categories required by the change managers, these include (1) interpersonal skills, (2) analytical skills, (3) personal skills and (4) project management skills.
In an entry phase, the change leader should possess interpersonal skills such as communication skills, good relational abilities or skills of trust and commitment. From an analytic standpoint, the manager should possess skills that allow them to apply various frameworks and models and to develop and enforce strong strategic directions. At an interventional level for instance, the manager should possess interpersonal skills of collaboration, responsibility, focus and persuasion; the analytical skills should revolve around methodological interventions, design skills as well as creativity and innovation. The personal skills required at this stage include the ability to provide feedback or support a favorable working environment. Last, the project management skills include sensible sequencing of interventions, learning and development through interventions or the use of sound information (Cameron and Green, 2012).
Ultimately, the approach implemented by these two authors is objective and highly inclusive, and the list of these skills can be found in their book Making sense of change management, at pages 208 through 214. Other authors however took a more subjective look and focused their attention on more specific aspects of change leadership. One example in this sense is represented by Barbara Polnik and Stacey Edmonson (2005), who approach the leadership skills in the context of the educational domain, and argue that in the changing society, it is necessary for the educational leaders to place more emphasis on more intensive data integration. Jason Pepe (2011)also assessed the matter in the educational setting and found that change would be better managed through the implementation of business principles and more practical approaches to change management.
Juliana Texley (2007) takes a more different approach and points out the skills necessary in the dynamic context of the twenty first century. She places most emphasis on the ability of the change leader to manage information and integrate technologic innovation. Chris Ohana (2006) on the other hand argues that it is essential for leaders to possess investigation skills, through which they would become better thinkers and would increase their chances of successfully solving problems. Michael Fullan's (2002) beliefs are somehow combined, in the meaning that he argues that the essential skills of successful change leaders are represented by the ability to develop successful relationships with those around, but also to create and share knowledge and information. Additionally, Fullan argues that it is compulsory for the manager to be coherent in their strategies and decisions and to emphasize on stability, development and continuous learning.
James Edwin Kee and Kathryn Newcomer (2008) argue that an essential step in successful change management is represented by the integration of the employees and their positive integration in the change process. In such a context, the two point out as essential skills the ability to act as an advocator of change, to identify the risks of the change and to place attention on its complexity, to engage the stakeholders in the change process or the ability to understand the organizational culture and adapt it to the change.
At the level of engaging the people, Mark Ahn, John Adamson and Daniel Dornbusch (2004) believe that a major constraint is change management is the employees' resistance to change, which should be eliminated; the causes of the resistance are complex, including fear of the unknown (Weeks, Roberts, Chonko and Jones, 2004). In such a setting, Ahn, Adamson and Dornusch argue that an essential skill of a successful change manager is represented by the ability to reduce the resistance to change.
David Miller (2010) takes a more strict approach to the skills of the good change leader and argues that ultimately, the success of a change project would be given by the discipline, consistency and determination of the manager.
"Failure is usually in the execution of the initiative. What differentiates the good leader from the bad? The latter tries to allay fears that change may be messy -- and by doing so will pay later for his mistake. The good leader builds high levels of commitment and resolve, which is important, but ultimate success depends on discipline and the right implementation framework. The good leader is adaptable and can therefore navigate change successfully" (Miller, 2010).
Rosabeth Moss Kanter (2007) takes a more in depth look at the skills required for successful change leadership and identified seven specific skills required for the managers who need to embrace change programs, but also develop new techniques to managing change. These refer to the following:
Understanding the changes and features of the micro and macro environment and assessing their relationship with the change process
Challenging the traditional models of change management and the inherited organizational wisdom
Creating an aspiration for the change and communicating this aspiration to the parties involved in the change process
Creating coalitions in support of the change implementation process
Transferring the change ownership to a working team
Emphasizing on consistency and perseverance
Giving credit where this is due, through the celebration of small victories and the rewarding of…