A change agent, also known as a change advocate or change facilitator, is someone who is hired to increase organisational effectiveness by using purposeful, planned techniques. The goal of a change agent is to facilitate system-wide transformation within an organisation. Several organisational science academics have claimed that the capacity of change agents to instigate change inside organisations is an important aspect of organisational success. Organizations hire change agents to modify the processes used to manage corporate operations. These change agents might be managers, staff, or outside consultants engaged to help with change projects. This article aims to explain the functioning of change agents in the working of a successful organization. It will highlight their responsibility and characteristics in detail.
Important aspects associated with change agents:
If a business employs internal change agents, these personnel will be more effective if they are familiar with the organization’s history, operations, and human resources. External change agents can also support change management projects by bringing a fresh viewpoint to the company and avoiding prejudice based on prior knowledge of the organization’s past.
However, an external change agent’s work might be hampered by a lack of expertise about the organisation. One solution is for the organisation to partner an external change agent with an internal change agent. This inside agent may, for example, be recruited from the human resources department. A big corporation may have an internal change agent who works directly with top management.
Difference between internal and external change agents:
Organizations can select change agents from both within and outside of the company. An internal change agent is often a team member who knows organisational development, behavioural sciences, and human intervention, such as a manager, senior executive, leader, HR professional, or another team member.
An external change agent is a third-party change practitioner or outside consultant who has necessary knowledge to promote change projects. Company laws, regulations, and policies do not apply to them, allowing them to thoroughly examine various scenarios and provide appropriate change management models and techniques that aid in the prevention of change failures.
Internal change agents are knowledgeable of the organization’s history of change efforts and social politics, and will work tirelessly to create solid connections in order to strengthen attitudes and cultural perspectives toward change – even after the implementation process is over. However, if a business does not have an internal employee with change management abilities, it must rely on external change agents to assist its endeavour. Though external change agents give a fresh viewpoint, their presence might endanger current workers and add a substantial expenditure to long change projects.
Characteristics of a good change agent:
- Openness to new experiences: First, good change agents are adaptable, meaning they are open to new ideas and can be innovative in developing non-traditional ways to help businesses flourish. Change agents who are adaptable may connect with people from diverse generations, organisational levels, and business (functions) to discover each employee’s skill set.
- Concentrate on outcomes that are related to strategy: Successful change agents prioritise and have a results-oriented mindset. Furthermore, this results-oriented emphasis is linked to the firm’s objectives and is an essential component of the strategic plan. This emphasis on outcomes helps change agents to set clear and transparent expectations for employees, resulting in more effective decision-making.
- Communication and listening abilities that are effective: Successful change agents are able to sympathise with people and have effective communication skills such as good listening (Lunenberg, 2010). Effective change agents are also open to listening to and accepting input from people within the organisation.
Techniques employed by change agents in boosting progress:
- Stakeholder Evaluation: Stakeholder analysis is a project management approach that analyses and categorises various stakeholders that will be impacted by the change endeavour. This research reveals how change agents may address stakeholders’ concerns, keep them on board with the transition, and prevent disruption.
- Techniques of Persuasion: A change agent must create a persuasive case to persuade others of the importance and advantages of the change effort, as well as the accompanying implementation strategy necessary to carry it out. The particular strategies employed by the change agent will differ depending on the activity and stakeholders.
The recruitment of change agents should also be part of a bigger plan that focuses on system-wide organisational transformation in order to execute strategies and assist individuals in adapting to change. The inclusion of change agents should be a component of this overall strategy. Change sustainability is critical, particularly when external change agents are engaged. External change agents with a strong connection to top executives may wield significant power in changing processes, structures, and behaviours. However, there is a danger that those modifications will not be embraced by workers, and the change project will collapse after the external change agents depart the business. Finally, change agents may help firms manage innovations and transitions by taking on a variety of positions inside the organisation.