Anouk den Ouden

A glimpse into the life of a Change Manager

4 min leestijd

Anouk has been working at Quintop Management Consultants for 11 years. In her current role at AkzoNobel, she works as a change manager where, together with the project team, she is implementing a new HR Cloud solution. About time for a good conversation, because according to Anouk, a role as change manager offers such a variety of activities, which gives a huge kick.

What does your job as a change manager entail?

As a change manager I help organizations to get from A to B. These are often transitional changes in which an existing situation is replaced by a new situation. 

In recent years I have mainly guided international change programs in which organizations replace their existing HR information systems with an HR system in the Cloud. The digitization of HR and the focus on employee experience has recently taken a huge turn. You can read more about this in our recent whitepaper “Who is responsible for Employee Experience”. In addition, efficiency, transparency, insight into real-time data and cost reduction, play a major role in the decision-making of organizations to move to a new HR system in the Cloud. 

What do you encounter in the approach of such a change project?

My role includes a variation of analysis, communication and stakeholder management. In terms of content, we make a change impact analysis in which the impact on different target groups is examined and also how the impact can subsequently be absorbed by change interventions. This results in a concrete training and communication approach central to the employee. In my current position, I experience that stakeholders see the need for change, the challenge is more in embedding the change and securing it.  

Speaking of challenges, what is a big challenge you face?

The biggest challenge is that organizations are implementing (organizational) changes in several areas, which means that employees often have to deal with a lot at the same time. Recent research from Gartner shows that employees experience three major changes per year (2018), compared to less than two a few years ago. 

The challenge then lies in the fact how you can ensure that your change can still be absorbed and internalized. In the change approach you try to take this into account as much as possible. For example, by communicating at different times and via different channels. In addition, by making training materials such as short videos and “quick reference cards” available, so that you can reach different types of employees and give them the opportunity to absorb the material in their own time. You also try to provide change agents with as many tools as possible so that they can act locally on the needs at that moment. 

Is there no fragmentation in the approach in this way?

In my opinion, a flexible way of providing tools that suit different employees is good, as long as the content of the message remains the same so that you maintain uniformity. 


With all this experience, do you have tips that you would like to share with change managers?

I would recommend collecting pain points from the end user, so that you can convert them into a “unique selling point”. In this way, end users also understand why the change is going to be an improvement for them. In addition, it is good to keep involving the business as a representative in sounding board groups, so that it is not an”HR party”. 


How did you get into your current position?

Through Quintop I have been able to fulfill various roles in recent years on the intersection of HR and change. In addition to project leadership roles, I ended up more in the change and communication corner. I notice that it gives me a lot of positive energy to guide a certain change and to bring it across the stage. Analyzing the combination, making concrete plans and then rolling them out in a project-based setting makes me very happy. My background in policy, communication and organization also comes in handy here. My current position is a nice and varied total package, so I am a happy consultant! 


How do you combine this with your private life, you have two children and are a career tiger?

That is a good question. I continue to find it a challenge to ensure a good work-life balance and I think every working mother will run into this every now and then. As a consultant you have to deal with peaks which sometimes have an impact on your home situation. Fortunately my partner is flexible and I have the space to deal with those peaks. At the same time, those peaks and the variety of assignments give me an enormous kick again and again, which balances it out again. 

In addition, I try to spend my time at home as qualitatively as possible with my children and my partner. Quintop understands my home situation and offers flexibility, which is extremely valuable to me. 

Finally, what do you want to be able to tick off in the field of work in 5 years?

I think it would be interesting to guide a change process in a small Dutch organization where people do not work remotely. This gives you a better view of what is going on because you can really see, hear and feel. Standing with your feet in the mud together with a small team seems very refreshing to me. This requires different qualities from a change manager. 


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