A change agent is a person from within the organization or brought in as an outside consultant who helps bring about organizational transformation through focus on organizational effectiveness, improvement, and development. A change agent is entrusted with the responsibility of managing changes in processes, structures, technologies and interpersonal and group relationships in the organization. The ultimate goal is to create a renewed organization.
Change agents help derailed organizations get back on track by redesigning processes to adapt to the rapidly changing environment.
A change agent plays multiple roles on the basis of organizational requirements. An organization unable to adapt to new technology needs a change agent who will play the role of a trainer or a teacher. An organization in search of new breakthroughs will need a change agent who is a researcher. A change agent can also serve as a line manager. The agent need not specialize in a single role; some cases would need change agents who can play multiple roles.
a) Broad Knowledge – Knowledge about the industry as well as knowledge about multiple domains. Conceptual knowledge, diagnostic knowledge, evaluative knowledge, knowledge about change methods, and ethical knowledge is extremely important for a change agent.
b) Relationship orientation – Having knowledge is not the only requirement for a change agent. It is also important for an agent to have a relationship orientation because he would need to listen to, trust, observe, identify, and report his findings to the people in the organization.
c) Sensitivity and Maturity
d) Authenticity – Practice what you preach. A change agent should inspire people in the organization to become an active part of the change.
It is necessary for a change agent to have a clear vision and be able to communicate the vision clearly with others. A change agent is not a ‘one man army’. He needs the support and knowledge of the people and he directs this support and knowledge towards achieving a common purpose. For this, it is extremely important for a change agent to be patient yet persistent. Change does not happen overnight and it is crucial that all the people stay connected and confident about their endeavor to achieve the change. Asking the right questions to get the right answers is a characteristic of a change agent.
Since Marissa Mayer became the CEO of Yahoo, Yahoo’s business has improved dramatically and stocks have increased. Employees are feeling buoyant about working at Yahoo and employees who had previously left Yahoo are coming back. Marissa directed her efforts towards managing talent in the company and making employees understand how important they are to the organization. The rise in the number of employee-focused initiatives bolstered their morale and increased their productivity.