In this post we will speak with you about viruses in a metaphorical way. Our focus here is a nice virus called Change. Change is a type of virus that can spread very easily. A change agent is someone who can spread this virus in an organization.
Leaders, politicians, or directors of an organisation (based on changes we’re talking about) are needed since they’re the ones that can make the big choices to change and, of course, make the change with the required budget. But the reality of a change that works or not, whether it pulls an organisation forward or is just another unsuccessful attempt to change, is not up to them.
In this post, I wanted to speak about the most crucial role in any change, the one that makes the change go viral: the change agent role or, better yet, the Super Change Agent.
What is a Change Agent?
As per Alan O’Neill, a change agent is someone who works actively however without official authority to facilitate change within an organisation. Peter Senge often calls him an “internal networker,” because his job is to build a social network that allows for change, outside organisational charts and structures.
Change agents in an organisation can be coordinators or consultants (in-house or outsource), but also can be someone from HR to marketing, instructors, support personnel, or even managers – why not?
The Change Agent’s Role
I would like to sum up the meaning of this role as follows: the change agents are those individuals who promote change through being relatable, practical and inspiring.
- Relatable: individuals affected by change view them as equals. In the TED talk, “How to start a movement,” Derek Sivers speaks about “Initial followers,” that is, the equals who make the remainder move: the true leaders.
- Realistic: They excel in sustaining the change in the reality in which their companions work. A change agent acknowledges the challenges of daily life, delivers support and motivation in addressing them, and proposes strategies for reaching objectives.
- Empowering: they spread the positive attitude and confidence needed to drive change forward.
At this period of COVID-19 crisis, change agents are health practitioners who, although operating long days in not the greatest circumstances, they also have the added obligation to educate, inform and offer suggestions.
Educators who send videos to their students through WhatsApp with proposed activities and guidance to move forward are also agents of change.
Change agents are the peers who organized balcony parties to celebrate the contributions of key staff. Then there’s still a lengthy list of individuals who, through their optimistic attitudes and everyday activities, will guide us through this whole change in the hope that it’ll all be fine.
The following images shows the 8 key characteristics that the super change agent must have.
Helps to create information networks. Knows how to move across the organization and puts people in contact who can help one another out. Helps the data to transmit and reach everybody, without altering the message by adjusting it to each atmosphere. The “glue” that helps to bind all the parts to every change.
Does not have an official authority, cannot decide things, but has views that are taken into consideration. Knows how to create an impression. Can talk in the language best suited to a particular scenario. Recognizes the problems encountered by those experiencing the change.
Acts to allow the most of the individuals in the company become change agents. Not retaining knowledge or information but broadcasting it to others. Searches openly for chances to explain, train and share.
Has no official power, cannot decide, but is a team player. Doesn’t really have the answers for all, but asks questions, actually helps and works together to get answers.
Facilitates change, to make things feasible and also to make it simpler. In order to promote successful contact, this work is performed with a positive and fun spirit, utilising sports, tales and visual instruments.
The agent of change is in perpetual motion. They don’t like the established order, so space for change is still there. Critical to one’s own work and the way it operates in the organisation. Always search for opportunities to push others to move deeper, even though they are still in line with a practical view of what can be achieved.
Eternal trainee, always learning. Looks for the learning opportunities. Through experiments, they are quickly seeking valuable feedback to verify or abandon theories and figure out what works and what’s not.
Understands where the organisation’s heading. Understands how to think of the bigger picture and perceive stuff at a really high level but is rooted in depth as well. Recognizes that everything is linked and knows how to see the relationships across each part, even though they’re not apparent (through the trees you can’t see the forest). Thinks globally, and acts locally.
Like anyone else, he goes through change. Rolls up his sleeves, finishes the work and is treated as another part of the squad. An equal, and inspires others to go the same way. Like the hiker who tries to teach someone who’s never climbed before, he does this not by remaining on the ground and giving instructions, but also by climbing the mountain.
Organizations experiencing massive changes (Agile Transformation, Digital Transformation, etc.), in particular, have agile instructors or transition coaches, scrum masters, strategic consultants, business analysts, project and product managers. They also have their roles as change agents and therefore, they do need to produce more agents of change within the people who are going through the change. Hence they have to consider and work on all these eight characteristics in addition to these general functions of their position. The change’s success may hinge on it.
Leadership Role with Respect to Change Agents
The environment, the circumstances for change to arise and evolution must be created by the leaders. Furthermore, they must suggest the mechanisms for ensuring correct development and for making the change successful. They will help the change by ensuring clarity, offering resources for training and development, and encouraging the formation of transversal information networks, such as groups of practice.
I decided to think about the viruses, like I mentioned at the start. It is the change agents which spread the change virus.
And you guys? Are you good change agents?