Change Management is a structured process of transition for an organization or team from the current state to the desired end state. It is an organizational process aimed at helping individuals understand, accept and commit themselves to changes. The change process generally involves sponsors, change agents, stakeholders and targets as key players.
As stated by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “Change is the only constant,” but in an organizational context, bringing about change is not as easy as it may sound.
Change Agents are the catalyst for any change management process. They are advocates. They help an organization or team transform by guiding and influencing stakeholders. During the transition from the current state to the desired state, there can be resistance to change, significant impact and risk associated with change. There will be a need for communication, stakeholder engagement, training, feedback collection and change reinforcement. This triggers the need for a Change Agent or team of Change Agents who are accountable for coordinating and balancing all the change phases to drive change successfully.
Key Roles and Responsibilities of Change Agents
Influence – Change Agents enable, trigger, inspire, influence and support any change.
Change Awareness and Sense of Urgency – Change Agents assess and communicate the need for change and foster a sense of urgency to accelerate stakeholder adoption.
Stakeholder Engagement – Change Agents will drive engagement of the appropriate stakeholders by involving them in key change exercises and help ensure that change is a collective effort from all stakeholders.
Feedback Collection – Change Agents seek regular feedback from stakeholders, identify key influencers to communicate change as per the change curve and incorporate an appropriate change implementation plan.
Communication and Training Strategies – Change Agents percolate change through targeted and customized communications, which can be function and region-specific. They provide change-related training support down to the end user level.
Support, Reinforce and Sustain Change – Change Agents are responsible for tracking change adoption and feedback and ensuring the sustenance of change through regular pulse checks.
Desirable Attributes of Change Agents
Change can only be successful if it is accepted by end users. Change Agents deal with people’s emotions, analyze resistance and risk, and provide support to mitigate them. This coordination is the key enabler for partnering in overall change transformation success.
A successful Change Agent is an empathetic, positive, flexible, collaborative team player and clear communicator who has diversified knowledge, a go-getter attitude and the ability to handle uncertainties.
Being an advocate of change, it is essential for Change Agents to have clarity on change, communication and domain proficiency to address queries from users. Change Agents must strive to gain diversified change knowledge and expertise. They go through numerous self-learning, training and knowledge transfer sessions that require a lot of time, effort and energy. To bridge any knowledge gaps and ensure clarity, Change Agents will interact with subject matter experts and the functional team through timely knowledge transfer sessions.
Change Agents are Driving Change
Bristlecone has a comprehensive, structured Organizational Change Management framework we call ADAPT. Our systematic approach is useful in overall Change Management because it brings in the people aspects of change, in addition to the technology and processes.
Change starts with assessing the current state and having a vision of the future state. Since Change Management typically involves diversified aspects of the business across process, people, technology and culture, we effectively make use of Change Agents’ channel or network in driving and sustaining change. Change Agents’ networks broaden the engagement across geographies and functions and establish a two-way communication channel to cascade information and collect feedback from stakeholders. We identify and empower the network of stakeholders, who will help champion the change efforts in their respective functions or geographies through communications, engagement and training support.
While identifying Change Agents, Bristlecone ensures clear communication of their roles and responsibilities. Change Agents’ desirable attributes are taken into consideration; preference is given to those who are effective professional communicators and ready to extend support to stakeholders and the project team. Change Agents support key stakeholders impacted by helping them understand the changes and benefits specific to their roles and function, addressing their queries in a timely manner, collecting feedback, and supporting training.
Change Agents champion change by ensuring acceptance, adoption and accountability.