Change agents form an integral part of the change management process in an organization. Their functions involve employing innovative tactics and strategies to implement the objectives of a company. As the leaders in the process, they support all other aspects of the business to ensure efficient and cohesive transformations both in the long and short term (Cawsey et al., 2016). Therefore, choosing a proper agent can guarantee that the goals for the new processes or models can be achieved. As a result, an agent is responsible for leading the process of introducing changes in an organization by using his skills and experiences to overcome challenges and implement the required strategies.
Concept of Change Agents
The process of change in an organization is a requirement with the constant evolution of the business environment. Additionally, the process entails a continuous progression over time that can be tailored to fit the setting. Consequently, change agents lead these processes to ensure their success and effectiveness. These may include the business structure or model, human resources, or the introduction of new technologies (Smither et al., 2016). These changes may have a significant impact on the business processes, hence, may face various challenges in their implementation. Therefore, agents must guarantee that such challenges can be overcome, allowing a swift transition in the organization.
Change agents must also possess various characteristics that can enable them to work in realizing the new processes adequately. Firstly, a diverse knowledge base can allow such an agent to make the right decisions. This also provides flexibility since they should possess adequate information and data to guide the process. Secondly, trustworthiness also plays a vital role in motivating and inspiring employees to join and assist in the introduced procedures. Without overall support, the organization may fail to implement them, frustrating the efforts. Thirdly, having adequate experience in current methods further makes it easier to introduce new ones since the agent fully understands their impacts and overall benefits. Lastly, an agent must be technology savvy to ensure the introduction of the right tools to assist in streamlining operations (Cawsey et al., 2016). With the evolving world of business analytics and tools, leveraging such innovations improves the attainment of business objectives. Thus, these characteristics are the basis of a reliable and efficient change agent that can steer the business in the right direction.
Role of a Change Agent in the Change Management Process
An agent leads the process of change management in a company and is responsible for all its aspects. Initially, they must justify the process to all the employees and comment on the benefits that would accrue from its implementation. As a result, they must convince people to support it from the onset to ensure its success. In this case, they advocate for the processes through both formal and informal roles (Cawsey et al., 2016). Since the agent might come internally or externally at any organization level, they must use their networking skills to relay the significance of the proposed measures succinctly. The successful completion of this phase paves the way for further actions in the course of implementation.
Apart from that, agents also serve as a point of reference for all relevant people requiring any assistance with the changes. From this position, such individuals listen to the concerns, questions, and any additional ideas on the proposed variations for further action. Such feedback allows for improvement measures to be considered, while also offering an avenue for receiving responses (Imran et al., 2016). This communication becomes critical at all stages of the process since it reduces any instances of conflicts due to the lack of adequate information about specific aspects. In the long run, the change agent ensures that everyone in the company can understand the plan, goals, and benefits of the process using the most efficient mode.
Furthermore, anticipating any potential challenges enables the agent to make the necessary strategies to counter them. By evaluating these problems, it becomes easier to come up with possible solutions that can prevent a slowdown in the operations of the business. These tactics consider the feedback from all sets of employees and find the most viable options that provide mutual benefits for the employees and the strategic positioning of the organization (Jalagat, 2016). Since challenges may be unavoidable in some scenarios, allocating adequate resources to their resolution can ensure efficiency in the process and ultimately lead to its successful implementation.
Influence of Change Agents on the Implementation of the Change Initiative
A change agent should be able to communicate the proposed initiative across the organization appropriately. This outlines the objectives and overall impact of the process of making the organization better. Confirming that people understand the initiative can guarantee that it gains the necessary support to ensure its success. However, a breakdown in the communication process at any business level can quickly lead to its downfall since it may introduce gaps hindering its implementation (Král & Králová, 2016). As a result, employees must be fully involved in all the processes starting from generating ideas to the strategies employed. Such participation promotes a sense of ownership and pride for all those involved, assuring the continued support of the changes.
Additionally, change agents must be fully committed to the realization of the initiatives. By accepting such a role, the individuals bind themselves to it and must deliver on their mandate despite the possible barriers (Sveningsson & Sörgärde, 2019). While failure becomes a possibility, an agent must persevere to ensure the success of the process in the organization. Such commitment motivates to overcome any barriers presented to achieve the objectives set initially. Furthermore, they must be willing to leave their comfort zones to face problems when required (Smither et al., 2016). Consequently, this requires a lot of patience to allow for the process to take shape over time. Maintaining a positive outlook through such phases provides the required drive to complete the initiatives successfully.
Challenges Facing Change Agents in the Process
Employees may cause several problems by resisting any notions of changes to the organizational structure and processes. Such resistance and ambivalence may emanate from management or lower levels of the company. On the one hand, management may prefer to continue with the existing processes due to their comfortability. On the other hand, lower-level employees may feel that such fluctuations might negatively affect their working processes (Rosenbaum et al., 2018). In these cases, the implementation of the strategies is hindered by organizational politics and culture that have deep roots (Cawsey et al., 2016).
For instance, some individuals and departments may possess personal influence in the company that impacts decision-making. However, change agents must act by negotiating, building coalitions, and fostering relationships with such individuals. This enables a deeper understanding of the power dynamics, allowing better navigation to stimulate support for the new processes.
Apart from that, some organizational changes have substantial human resource and financial implications. Consequently, these may negatively affect employees in cases where staff have to be fired or require salary adjustments. In these cases, the top management’s inability to outline such information honestly to employees can affect their relationship, impacting the implementation of the initiatives (Anand & Barsoux, 2017).
To avert such a crisis, a change agent should foster an environment that creates trust at all organizational levels. This means that lower-level employees must believe that the management teams’ decisions are made in their best interests. By creating this relationship, all employees can thereafter work through them for the company’s greater good. Therefore, any changes that are likely to affect the employees must be timely and appropriately encapsulated in the design and proposals.
Change agents form an integral part of the change management process by providing a leading role in the organization. Consequently, an agent’s responsibilities rely on the individual taking the critical role of leading the process; hence, it can significantly impact the effectiveness and efficiency of overall organizational operations. They must possess a diverse knowledge base, flexibility, technological background, and trustworthiness to impart relevant initiatives.
Additionally, their role requires them to communicate the plans to gain employee support and feedback on ideas to improve the process to maximize its effectiveness and reduce conflicts. Furthermore, the change process offers challenges, including resistance by individuals and improper communication by management. To avert these challenges, change agents must create networks to understand power dynamics while ensuring an open and trustworthy environment for all employees.
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