If you’ve been told “You’re a change agent from now on!” but haven’t a clue what that means or how you might begin to play your role effectively, here are some thought starters:
What is a ‘Change Agent’?
A Change Agent is:
‘someone responsible for facilitating or implementing change’.
It’s that straightforward. Even if its not a part of your formal job title, there’s a good chance that at least some part of your role involves change agency.
So why have organisations started using this term? Our view is that organisations want to acknowledge the important role that people play in bringing change about. By recognising that there is a specific skill set associated with effective change agency it becomes easier to put the right support and accountabilities in place. Teams develop a shared sense of what their work is about and people feel strongly connected with the impact they can have.
What is ‘Change Management’?
There are almost as many definitions as there are people working in the field of change. Borrowing from the Managed Change™ approach, we define change management as:
‘an organised, systematic application of the knowledge, tools and resources needed to effect organisational change through people’.
Having great ideas for change is not sufficient. To deliver the outcomes expected we need to inform, upskill and engage those impacted by and involved with the change, so they play an active part in realising what is envisioned.
Using the know-how of well-managed change, we can have best impact today while also creating a positive legacy for future changes.
How is Change Management different from Project Management?
Usually change agents are tasked with a project, perhaps to change team structures, relocate people to another building, introduce new technologies and working practices, or change culture, people’s habits and behaviours. Project management enables the team to stay on track with tasks and deliver. Change management enables the change team to build acceptance, mitigate the risk that comes from resistance and harness people’s contributions.
Ideally the tasks and activities associated with change management will form part of the project plan. Combining both disciplines encourages people to think about the overall picture, of which their project is a part, and frame what they’re doing in terms of the change that will be effected as a result of their efforts. So, for example, instead of us thinking about ‘delivering a new performance management system’, we might think about our work as ‘creating a high performance environment’. It’s a subtle difference that drives out different behaviours on the part of the change agent.
How can I learn more?
You can access further resources via the LaMarsh Global website. As their European Partner, our teachings are aligned with their thinking and practices.
With the support of your organisation, you can access our self-assessment tool iChange.
You can join one of our Managed Change™ programmes.
If you’re been working to facilitate or implement change for a while, you might like to head over to our resources on Honing Your Craft as a Change Agent.