5 Critical Roles to Include in your Change Management Strategy

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Ensure the success of your next change initiative by considering each of these critical roles. Often, one person may support multiple roles. In an ideal scenario, each role will have at least one person. People managers and change agents will be multiple people and the number is determined by the scope of the change and the number of stakeholders.


The critical role of a sponsor can often be overlooked. A sponsor should be chosen deliberately and thoughtfully to ensure success and ease of the change.

  • The sponsor is in a position that has authority and decision making power over the impacted people, process or systems. 
  • The sponsor can communicate the reason for the change and the benefits to the organization.
  • The sponsor is visible throughout the lifecycle of the change and delivers the required engagement and communication tactics, such as celebrating, addressing resistance, and maintaining relationships.

Project Manager

  • The project manager is responsible for the project life cycle, ensuring there are clearly defined objectives, scope, milestones, schedule and allocated resources
  • Collaborates with the change expert and project team to ensure timelines & resources are planned for
  • Develops and delivers the project with employee adoption and use as a measure of success

Change Expert

Often, this change expert role will be filled by the project manager, people manager, or a combination of the two. Sometimes, the scope of this role may fall to Human Resources specialists, communications roles, or any employee-focused role. In larger organizations, there may be dedicated resources to fill this role.

  • The change expert develops the strategy and tactics for stakeholder engagement
  • Trains and coaches others in change roles
  • Collaborates with sponsor and project manager and updates the change plan as the project progresses

People Managers

People managers have many roles as change managers. They are the closest to their people and have communication, advocate & support responsibilities.

  • People managers must share employee feedback with project team
  • People managers must manage employee resistance
  • People managers must coach and support employees through change

Change Agents / Change Makers / Change Champions

Amplify the momentum and change ability of your team by enlisting advocates of the change. This can be an informal or formal network of colleagues who can help to communicate and support their peers through the change transition.

  • Be a voice of peers and area responsible for and raise feedback to project team
  • Be a voice of the project team and communicate openly and often with area of responsibility
  • Role model the change by demonstrating behaviors
  • Be a resource for area of responsibility
  • Support slow adopters
  • Encourage a mindset of keeping an open mind and exploring new ways of working

21 Tips on How to Communicate Effectively with Stakeholders

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1. List out all of your stakeholders.

Use your project team, people managers, and sponsor to create a thorough list of anybody impacted, positively or negatively.

2. Prioritize your efforts.

Communicating information that is not relevant is a surefire way to disengage a stakeholder. Prioritizing the efforts of your team and yourself will make sure the most critical stakeholders are communicated with the most frequently. An influence – interest grid can be helpful to visualize this assessment. Read how here.

3. Collect data and understand your stakeholders.

Each stakeholder may have different requirements for this project. Utilize inputs from your project team or people managers to understand where they are at in regards to the project, how they may be impacted, their needs, concerns, benefits, capacity for change.

4. Figure out the best way to communicate with your stakeholders

Consider existing meetings, emails, newsletters that you could be a part of it, instead of creating a separate required meeting or email for employees to read. Consider how to make it easier on them to get the information required. Some people or teams may not consistently use email, chat or calendar and it may be necessary to figure out other ways to get their attention.

5. Highlight the most important information.

Consider this easy to remember, simple format – What? So what? Now what? You can always link to more thorough project information, details or an FAQ for those that want it.

6. Create and maintain a Communication Plan

A communication plan can be extremely useful to keep track of complex audience groups, timelines, and large teams. Download a free template here.

7. Ask for feedback on your Communication Plan.

Ensure your sponsor and critical project team members are aligned with the approach, key messages, and timeline of your communication milestones.

8. Share the Communication Strategy with stakeholders.

For example, will you be sending out a routine email update? When should they expect the next in-person communication? This allows them to rest easy in the confidence that they will hear from you again and you are considering their needs.

9. Switch up your communication tactics.

Did you already communicate with a group in a face-to-face forum? Next time, try email. The time after that, try chat. Consider visual reminders in the workplace such as table-tents, posters, or flyers.

10. Communicate early to people managers, when possible.

This allows your leaders the time to digest and adjust to the information so that when their employees receive it they are ready to support the initiative.

11. Ensure your sponsor(s) and people managers are reinforcing the same information.

Provide them with easy to follow talking points, FAQs, or slide decks as needed.

12. Offer virtual and recorded options for face-to-face requirements.

Give your stakeholders the flexibility to engage with the information at the time that works best for them.

13. Ensure two-way communication.

Ensure two-way communication. How does a stakeholder provide feedback, ask questions, or bring up concerns? Make their options to contact you or the team visible and include it in every communication.

14. Build trust by promptly replying to questions.

The absence of information often leads to assumptions. Get ahead of rumors, correct trains of thought, and be as transparent as possible with the information you can share.

15. Consider a routine project update.

For example, an end-of-week project summary could be sent to stakeholders to keep your project at the top of their mind. Keep it concise and focus the information on impact to the stakeholders.

16. Role model the best email etiquette.

Respect the time of your stakeholders. Do not blindly “cc” or “bcc” or “reply-all” where possible. Send only relevant content to the relevant stakeholders.

17. Role model the best meeting etiquette.

I’ll say it again – respect the time of your stakeholders. Send out pre-reads and set meeting agendas. Time-keep the meeting, take notes, and share meeting notes after the fact.

18. Switch up who information is coming from.

Different people may create a different impact. For example, hearing from a member of your department may create more trust in the project. Hearing from a senior leader may demonstrate the non-negotiables of this project. It can be useful to write or create a communication for the team, and then ask them to communicate to their respective teams. People often engage with information better when it comes from a close colleague instead of a stranger.

19. Create an FAQ.

Start this at the beginning with questions from the project team. Add to it throughout the project duration. This can be a useful document to attach to communications and equip your change agents with ready-to-go and consistent answers. See our guide here.

20. Offer casual, informal opportunities for engagement.

Consider a scheduled “office hours,” a table in a popular area in your workplace, and engaging your change agents for more impromptu conversations on the topic.

21. Create a central location to store all your project related information.

An easy and simple tactic can be to keep a “living” slide deck where updates are shared and a history of previous updates is maintained. Consider a quick-to-make google site, shared folder, FAQ, or other ways to share information depending on the complexity and confidentiality of your project.

Articles that may help you next:

4 Steps to Complete a Stakeholder Analysis (How-to Guide) – FREE template included

Why a Stakeholder Analysis is so important

How to Create a Communication Plan – FREE template included