You must have heard these terms before: change agent, change champion, change ambassador, or change catalyst. It means someone within or outside the organization who promotes and enables a new way of improving things, e.g., business model transformation, management restructuring, process reengineering, or digital adoption.
In his latest “Thinking Ahead” e-newsletter article, “A Culture of Change Agents,” futurist Gihan Perera wrote: “In a tight labor market, if you don’t build a culture for change, they will find somebody else who does. Change and innovation are everybody’s responsibility. The best leaders create a culture where change is energizing and change agents thrive.”
Gihan enumerated six team characteristics which could determine how your organization stacks up in relation to change and innovation. The first three are not good indicators on reactiveness while the next three are positive ones that connote proactivity:
- Resistant. Team members actively resist change. They always look for reasons for change not to work, seek reasons not to change, undermine every change process, and criticize setbacks with “I told you so” attitude.
- Reluctant. Team members have to be pulled kicking and screaming into responding to change, unless it’s a change that restores the status quo than making real progress.
- Compliant. Team members only do what they are told, don’t take any initiative and just keep chugging along. They will change, but only if you ask them to and not because they want to.
- Engaged. Team members take initiative rather than do what they’re told. They identify opportunities to change and innovate, and are keen to contribute to change initiatives.
- Empowered. Team members feel confident they have the skills, knowledge and authority to initiate change themselves, and exercise good judgment in initiating change when opportunities arise.
- Inspired. Team members believe they are part of a team that does work which matters, where their passion aligns with the team’s purpose, and they actively create change that makes a difference.
A post on the Michigan State University website lists five qualities that effective change agents must have:
- Flexibility. Tapping into the creativity of others by connecting with people (inside and outside of the organization) of different generations and backgrounds to gain a deeper understanding of perspectives, experiences, and personalities.
- Diversified Knowledge. Besides staying abreast of industry developments, gaining new knowledge through master and professional certificate programs, for example, can help support change agent development.
- Prioritization. It’s often helpful to tie specific priorities to the overall business goals to streamline decision making and create a clear picture of how the company is measuring up to expectations.
- Accountability and Responsibility. To lead effectively, executives and managers need to ultimately hold themselves responsible for their team’s performance.
- Effective Listening Skills: Leaders who listen will develop stronger relationships with their people by gaining trust. This trust will help in getting buy-in for change.
So, how does your association stack up as a change agent?
This article was published by the Business Mirror on October 28, 2022 and may not be reproduced without prior consent from the writer and Business Mirror.