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  • Gilbert Kruidenier

Change Demographics Survey 2018

In early March 2018 there was a lot of talk on LinkedIn of the Change Community this, the Change community that, which got me thinking about what we actually mean by that set of words and is there even such a thing as a Change Community? After some prodding from Rachael McLean and good advice from Miranda Jensen, I started looking into it a bit more and found remarkably little data on our own Change species. Never one to leave a gap when I find it, I set out to find some answers and after some more advice, welcome encouragement and a few friendly challenges, started this simple 10 question survey to find out who we are as a community instead of what we do when we work.

457 participants from around the world responded over the course of 3 months. As there are nearly 200,000 people worldwide on LinkedIn with ‘change manager’ in their profile, you could easily say this data set is not representative at all. Fair enough, you are statistically right, but as far as I know, it’s more data than we had, so let’s just assume that it is representative for argument’s sake and see what we can learn. Like me, you might end up with more questions than answers, but to quote Trinity: “It is the question, that drives us”.

For those who really just want the outcomes:

Detailed outcomes

1. The gender balance

I am not at all looking to start a gender debate here, there’s still too many misconceptions and not enough research to be found for me to feel safe to speak out on the (clear) workforce inequality I see in the workplaces I visit. The change profession seems a bit different in some ways. The consistent 70-30 split (women/men) will surprise few of you who have been to any Change conference and/or event in the past few years. Now that we’ve confirmed it once more, does it mean anything? Does it matter? Does anyone even wonder how that came to be? My own (unproven) theory is that when the field truly emerged in the early 90’s most men were too busy with the Lean and Six Sigma side of things and women saw the opportunity to do things differently. The stigma of Change being a touchy-feely profession and the ‘girly’ labels only came afterwards from no small amount of resentment and frustration when the efficiency and improvement hype had passed, and all the good spots had been ‘taken’ by these skilled ‘girls who would not just step aside’.

2. What’s in a name?

Note to self, do not offer a free text category here, ever again! Wow, I gave about 8 options and got treated to 114 different ways in which we describe ourselves in our current role. It took some time to relabel them into 15 job categories (incl. ‘other’) The most favourite Change job titles were (unsurprisingly): Change Manager (29%), Change Consultant (27%), Change Lead 18%), Transformation Manager (5%) and Change Analyst (2%). No wonder hiring managers, HR and staff in general don’t really know what to expect, we go by many names. My personal favourite: Manager of Policy, Planning & Federal, Provincial, Territorial Relations. Talk about an undercover change ninja! Best.Disguise.Ever.

3. Can I see some certification and accreditation please?

Some people rightfully pointed out that there’s a difference between certification and accreditation. All the same, I wanted to find out what people are certifying themselves in and was not disappointed. Prosci Certification is the most mentioned certification with 42%, while 9% went all PhD on the subject matter. On the other end, 9% seem to be getting by just fine without any formal certification. Then there’s a whole range of Masters’ degrees, PMPs, Six Sigma Green and Black belts and as many variations of the words, behaviour, lean, change, organisational, project and ‘-ist’ as you can come up with. Safe to say, most of us have acquired a solid foundation of topical knowledge. Still unknown, but quite interesting for another day and survey is how much we get to use it in our daily practice as only applied knowledge is power.

4. Failed PMs and washed-out HR folks

Contrary to what the cynics out there are saying, we originate from 125 different fields of work, so we’re not all failed project managers, that’s just 23% of us 😊 and that other myth of all CM’s being ex-HR, nope, just 13% (and probably not all washed out for that matter). A remarkable 10% was born this way and has always been a change manager. I am still not sure if this mixed background is a prerequisite or a nice to have as I often hear it being addressed to suit the situation on hand. Need a versatile person? Well, look at the many things I did during my career. Need a focussed expert? Well, the one thing that connected all my previous roles…In some way we could very well create our own problem by being a Jill-of-all-trades and master-of-none in how we talk about our professional selves. Perhaps a competency-based selection process and clearer profiling and career paths instead of a Big-4 consulting pedigree and/or fancy certificate could be helpful too. As you well know, there’s no one way to be an accountant or nurse, so why should that be any different for Change managers?

5. You’ve been around HOW long?

This question was asked in the wrong way and aside from providing some demographic insight it didn’t clarify much. No real difference between women and men, certification happened at all stages, no real eye-openers when it came to salary expectations. Nothing to see here folks, just a nice molehill that says that the groups 10-20 years (32%) and 20-30 years (30%) of work experience make up 60% of the total, 16% has been working for 30-40 years and are still at it.

6. Sign on the dotted line please...

I had to get a bit creative here because a lot of the answers given were outside of the standard options, so there is some grouping and generalising going on. I’ve done my best to keep things as distinctive as possible, but the main idea is that 70+% of us say they are working on an employment contract of sorts, most as employees and some as contract workers. Just over 23% identify as self-employed, with the rest choosing to be something else altogether. I found this a bit surprising as I was expecting a higher number for self-employed people but thinking about it some more and looking at the major global job markets, it actually makes sense that about 1 in 4 Changies would be self-employed. I was left to wonder if my prediction of Change Management in its current form being extinct by 2035 will still come about or if things will truly speed up and reverse that ratio to 25% contract and 75% self-employed in the next 10 years already.

7. Changing big businesses

The responses here were very diverse, so in order to get a reportable outcome, if various levels were chosen as a response, I went with the largest scale. Looking at it that way, 65% work for/with 500+ staff organisation and another 15% work mostly with mid-size organisations. The other 20% spend their time on teams and individuals. In my experience this is a true reflection of what’s happening in the workplace. I did not ask for preferences, but further research might be done to explore what drives this distribution. Perhaps it’s still the old adage of ‘follow the money’ and a lot can be said for the argument that smaller businesses have less to spend on Change, even if it’s a strategic priority. On the other hand, mid-size and smaller businesses face similar challenges (be it on a smaller scale) and they prove that Change doesn’t necessarily require million-dollar budgets to be successful. More to explore for sure!

8. Change is a Western profession

Most of the respondents work in North-America (39%), closely followed by Australia and NZ (37%), then a lot of nothing and then there’s ‘Europe (and EMEA)’ with 11%. I think it’s safe to say that Change Management is a profession invented by the West, especially looking at Asia (5%) and Africa with just 3%! A keen observer would say that this must be due to the lack of demographical spread in my network, ethnical bias and choice of LinkedIn groups. They could be right on all counts, but I selected groups on their change profile and included a few worldwide consultant groups to counter those effects as best as I could. All in all, the sample size was 750,000+ possible respondents in groups across the world. I found out earlier through highly sophisticated research (using Google and LinkedIn) that the Change management role does not exist equally in all parts of the world and am still wondering what they do to make things work in better ways.

9. Part-time... You’re kidding, right?!

None of that part-time frivolity for us! A whopping 85% works full-time and just 9% part-time. There was no noticeable difference in correlation for gender, work experience or pay in the responses to this question. I wanted to figure this out because every now and then I get offered a part-time change job and I have never seen it work, but wondered if it was really that unusual. Looking at these numbers, I would conclude that full-time roles are still very much the norm. How we fill that in and make it work was not asked, but I hope it involves flex time, 'work where you want' and digital collaboration.

10. Show me the money!!

This question intentionally avoided asking for amounts because a) it’s still a bit of a taboo to say how much you earn and b) conversion rates and living standards are different across the world. The outcome was a very positive surprise. Apparently 55% of us get paid as expected. Just 5% says it’s not enough, countered by another 5% who say it’s much more. The remaining 30%+ gets equally divided between ‘more than expected’ and ‘less but enough’. We’re either a very content group of professionals or have become very good at managing not just our client’s expectations, but also our own.

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