CSR Career Planning - Tips On Change Management

Career planning for aspiring Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professionals or Socio-Eco Innovators (SEIs) involves becoming a skilled change manager.  Change management can be defined as a collection of knowledge, skills and abilities that allow an individual to transition organizations, teams or individuals from a current to a future desired state through a structured approach.  As an aspiring CSR professional or SEI, this post will provide you with resources and tips on how to build your track record in change management:

Career Planning Tip #1: Build your knowledge base - Read as much as you can about change management.  This includes reading about change management theory, as well as reading success stories on change management.  In terms of books, I would recommend 'Switch' from the Heath Brothers (http://heathbrothers.com/switch/),  the videos and book on change management published by Les50ns (http://www.50lessons.com/welcome.asp), as well as the success stories and cautionary tales that Dave Stangis, Peter Matthies, Madeline Ravich, and Amelia Timbers have written about on justmeans.

Career Planning Tip #2: Focus on the value proposition - It is human nature to do what would lead to the biggest results with minimal effort.  Therefore, most professionals and people don't do the right thing.  Instead they often will settle for what they can get away with.  As a responsible business professional, your goal is to successfully convince them that better results will be generated if they change their behaviors by implementing solutions that decrease environmental impact and increase social impact.  Environmental changes are increasingly used in CSR initiatives for three reasons.  First, there is a track record of success and best practices are available on how to implement environmental changes in big companies.  Second, environmental changes are easier to measure (e.g. carbon footprint, decrease in energy consumption).  The third and most important reason for environmental changes in companies is that it saves them money.  This might be your low hanging fruit, look for ways to demonstrate to your colleagues that getting business done better will be easier than they think and will save them (and the company) money.

Career Planning Tip #3: Stand on the shoulders of giants - The good news is that your are not the first change agent.  This means that you can learn from the mistakes of others.  Connecting with more seasoned change managers within or beyond your company can tremendously accelerate your learning and allow you to avoid some of the pitfalls that are sure to come up along the way.  Now this is different from tip #1 in an important way - while tip #1 focused on what you can learn online through writing and videos, we are talking here about meeting with successful change managers in person.  These are two very different approaches that will lead to different results.  While reading about people online and watching videos will enable you to learn more about some of their successes and failures, connecting with someone in person will get you far more information (and a lot less 'rosy' picture about what it really takes to manage change).  By learning the good, the bad, and the ugly about change management from a person that has been there, you will achieve better preparation, as well as potentially find a mentor.  Having a mentoring team that include several mentors who can provide support as well as are willing to put their reputation behind you can tremendously help you emerge as a skilled change manager.

I look forward to hearing your questions and comments about how to successfully drive change within organizations, as well as other career planning tips you might have for aspiring CSR professionals or SEIs!

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