Making People Change Work

Butterfly Metamorphosis

What is people Change?

People change can be described as the project management that focuses on “Putting People at the Heart of Change” within an organisation.

People change happens in two ways:

  • The physical movement of people through recruitment, selection and redundancy activity, and the accurate recording of this against project plans and schedules
  • The psychological movement of people through ‘hearts and minds’ change management activities

What does people change success look like?

There are 2 key aspects to people change which include the physical process of moving people from one place to another, and the psychological impact of how people feel about being moved and to what extent they feel a part of it.

The ideal scenario is when people feel they have been sympathetically and efficiently transferred from old jobs to different existing jobs or activities, newly created jobs or out of the organisation altogether.

The physical aspects of People change include:

  • The movement of people in line with baseline plans and schedules, and consists of the required headcount number and band mix
  • The movement of people being optimised to avoid unnecessary redundancy and recruitment
  • giving emphasis to the appropriate needs of individuals, recognising all legalregulatory and industrial relations aspects, and wherever possible their personal circumstances

The ideal scenario is where impacted people are positively motivated and committed towards working in the new environment because they understand the rationale for change and their new role.

This includes things like how they can contribute to success and are prepared for the challenges that change will bring.

When would it apply?

Physical People change activity is applied at any time when there are structural changes to the business.  Structural change may lead to a variation in the number of jobs and people doing them, as well as content due to an alteration in work processes. Typically, this will lead to:

  • Selection/de-selection
  • Redundancy
  • Redeployment of people

Psychological People change activity should be applied alongside the physical requirements but it should be noted that hearts and minds issues could arise from any change that impacts on the way that people perceive things are/should be done.

Each project should take responsibility for managing all of these anomalies throughout the project lifecycle.

Remember it is the business unit that is responsible for ensuring objectives are achieved and that people are committed to the change(s).

Who would apply it?

Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Management Team to identify the need for and manage People change activity.  Specifically, the following roles will be involved:

  • Sponsors need to identify likely implications when initiating change programmes
  • HR Business Partners and HR Account Managers will consider these issues during ‘investigation’
  • Programme and Project Managers will work with the business to build People change activity into plans

How can you apply People change?

If you are responsible for any People change activities for your organisation, you can have a tremendously beneficial impact by adopting and applying the following principles:


  • An appropriate (and logically tested) mix of grade, competencies, skills and knowledge is retained
  • All candidates are assessed fairly and consistently
  • Equal Opportunity and Job Security Policy commitments are met
  • You have minimised the need for compulsory redundancies (possibly by seeking to match transition activity across different projects)
  • Business as usual activity has been maintained
  • All legal and regulatory requirements have been met


Effective change leadership is focused on delivering a workforce that is:

  • Motivated toward the new structure and ways of working
  • Committed to sustained effort to move new activity into business as usual
  • Focused on delivering ‘business as usual’ throughout the chnage period

It is also advantageous to make sure anyone leaving the organisation continues to be managed and valued as a team member.

How can we help?

Discover more about ‘Putting People at the Heart of Change’ by going to: or

Or contact us via the above websites to find out more!

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