The change could be large or small, evolutionary or revolutionary, or be driven externally or internally. While change initiatives are instigated (or at least framed) by senior organisational leaders, managers have a key role to play in making the changes happen across the organisation and in managing the impacts.

In the public sector, organisational change often results from changes in the way that ministerial portfolio areas are defined and integrated. This results in ‘machinery of government’ changes. In these situations, work units or divisions may be moved from one department to another or be reconfigured in other ways. Sometimes whole organisations are created or disbanded.

The physical relocation of an organisation and the redistribution of an organisation’s workforce across different locations are other common types of organisational change encountered in the public sector. So too is restructuring or re-shaping an organisation’s workforce in light of changing demands or strategies for achieving organisational outcomes.

Individual organisations often help their staff prepare for significant change situations and often provide development activities tailored for the specific change event. However, the public sector manager needs to understand and be able to apply the basic principles of change management, because often the speed or scale of the change means formal or lengthy staff preparation activities are not always possible.

The development topics outlined overleaf are aimed at providing managers with a ‘big picture’ understanding of the key elements of managing in an organisational change situation.

Each topic is related to other topics explored in greater detail in other Development Guides. The development focus here is on adapting and applying core management knowledge, skills and behaviours to a change environment and a manager’s role at a time of organisational change.

The following checklist starts with a consideration of the different types of change and understanding how the variations may impact on how the organisation’s employees experience the change and the tasks managers will have to undertake.

The next focus is on understanding the particular impacts change may have on staff and the particular knowledge, skills and behaviours a manager will find helpful in these particular situations (other Development Guides focus on core people management skills, including Development Guide#8 – Managing Difficult Situations Involving the People Manager’s Manage).

There is also a focus on effective communication within a change situation. Other Development Guides concentrate on core communication skills more completely (Development Guide #4 – Advanced Interpersonal Skills, and Development Guide #7 – Managing and Developing People in the Victorian Public Sector).

What should a development activity cover?

The checklist that follows outlines the core content that development activities focusing on this subject area ought to cover in order to build the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for success in any Victorian public sector management role.

Accompanying the checklist is a list of resources. Use of these resources in the design and delivery of a development activity will help build knowledge, skills and behaviours that are of immediate and clear value in any management role in the Victorian public sector.

Some of these resources describe specific knowledge, skills or behaviours, while others provide information about the context in which Victorian public sector managers operate. In most cases, the resources do not address the topic in full. Additional material will still be-required to provide comprehensive development in the relevant content area.

Most resources listed are freely available as downloads from the websites indicated.

Core Content / Resources

Establishing the Context

Understanding the importance of organisational change and effective change management in light of the environment in which the Victorian public sector works.

Planning for Different Types of Change

Understanding different types of change in terms of, for example, scale, speed (evolution/revolution) and drivers (internally driven/imposed).

Understanding ‘machinery of government’ changes.

Techniques for planning for change, including framing goals, milestones, timeframes, key actions and progress evaluations, and tailoring plans for different types of change.


Supporting People through Change

Understanding typical employee responses to change.

Strategies and actions to help people:

  • Let go of the past and embrace the new
  • Maintain motivation and engagement during change
  • Maintain productivity during change.


Communicating in a Change Environment

Techniques for:

  • Effective formal communications in a change environment
  • Communicating information or decisions that people may find upsetting
  • Managing informal communication in a change environment, including the ‘rumour mill’
  • Communicating about the change with external stakeholders.


Managing the Business Impact of Change

Strategies for managing the impacts of change on:

  • Business continuity
  • Organisational risk profile
  • External stakeholder relationships.


Understanding Formal Processes for Restructures and Redundancies

Understanding formal processes relating to significant change of role or redundancies.

Strategies and actions for maintaining engagement, productivity and wellbeing of staff where redundancies are occurring.


Monitoring, Review and Continuous Improvement

Strategies and actions for:

  • Monitoring change effectiveness
  • Reporting and communicating progress and effectiveness of change initiatives.


Seeking Assistance

Understanding when and how to seek support to assist with the change process and its impacts, especially those relating to industrial relations or staff wellbeing.