Change Managers and Project Managers

For a project to succeed both Project Managers and Change Professionals must work closely together.

PMs focus primarily on milestones, critical paths, tasks, time lines and budgets. From a style perspective these are predominantly “Blue and Red” attributes.

Change Managers are concerned with readiness, leadership, engagement, culture and impact. These are more of a “Green and Yellow” styles. Here’s a summary of what I am referring to…

This is the Yin and Yang of a project’s success. How can these two very different perspectives and styles come together and thrive as a cohesive team?

As a Change Professional working to establish Change Capabilities, programs, tools and processes within an organization, I suggest flexing your preferred style to resonate with the style and preferences of PMs. Here are some tips on how to reach out and connect better with your PM “cousins”.

Get Inside Their Heads

A PMs best friend is the Gantt chart followed closely by spreadsheets, process diagrams and specification documents. These are all tools they use to describe how a project will achieve its goals. Yes, some PMs have a project charter or vision document that contains the business case or why the project is being initiated. A simple way to determine what is most important to a PM? For any given project look at how many times the charter or vision statement is referred to versus the project plan or specification documents and that will give you an idea of what the major focus is for them. They are focused on how, when, what and how much. So when presenting or communicating with PMs, frame things around how Change activities and resources will keep the project on track, on time and on budget. Then you will have their ear. Give them details on “how” not just “why”.

Make it easy for CM to be integrated with PM

PMs love dashboards! It provides a visual means to focus sponsors and other stakeholders on critical and relevant issues. Large projects are complicated with many moving parts and a lot of noise to filter through. If you want to integrate the “people side” of change into the mix then create a simple to read dashboard of adoption.

Keep any measure or dashboard easy to maintain and update. Remember you are getting the PM to adopt CM workstreams, and measures into their world.

Work for them as well as with them

Remember that project teams go through the same change curve stages as other stakeholder groups. Often times project team members expected to “just suck it up and get on with it”. It is also assumed that they will just be “ahead of the curve”. Give them education about the stages they too will experience and that it is not bad or a sign of weakness or lack of dedication to the project if they hit “rock bottom”. It is part of a normal process everyone goes through.

So allow time, effort and budget to help the project team through the curve as part of your Change plan and strategy. You will position yourself as a trusted advisor to the project team as well as a member of the team.


Value is as much a perception as an absolute fact. Make it easy for PMs to perceive the value that Change Management brings to a project. Appreciate their perspective of the world and they will in time appreciate yours.