How to be a Successful Agent of Change in Your Own Organization

time for changeEvery successful organization will introduce a variety of new policies and procedures throughout its business life. These changes are essential for meeting the ever changing demands of the marketplace and its customers. Still, an organization's employees may not be so understanding of the need for change. To combat this natural reluctance to change, a company must recognize its existence and develop a strategy to deal with it.

Larger companies can field dedicated teams of “change agents” to handle this problem but small and mid-sized ones do not usually have the manpower and financial resources to approach the problem in the same way. Instead, a single individual is usually tasked with implementing a new policy. While the prospect of successfully completing this task may seem daunting, there are some strategies that will help. Here are just a few:

Own the Change

Once the decision to make a particular change is made, someone must “own” it. While this means
that they will be the the primary person in charge of its implementation, they must also act as a
cheerleader for the project. In addition, this person will be the focus for complaints and any other
negativity that follows the project. Ensure that you or your designated change agent is up to this responsibility.

Manage the Resistance

People, being creatures of habit, are usually resistant to change. This fact is as true in the workplace as anywhere else. Understanding that this is the natural order is the first step in managing the resistance. So, allow the dissonant voices to have their say and listen empathetically to their comments. Then, it is your responsibility as the agent of change to explain that change requires “buy-in” from the entire team. While reasoned dissent is generally a good thing, it should not take precedence once the decision for change has been made.

Insist on Support

No matter how persuasive you are, you will require support to effectively implement any major changes in your organization. For this simple reason, you must enlist allies and insist upon their support from other key players in the organization. No amount of verbal proselytizing can overcome a staff that is consistently negative about a project. It is imperative that you do not allow this situation to arise and take measures against anyone who refuses to support the initiative.

Communicate the Mission

Your staff does not enjoy trying to read the minds of those implementing the change. Your first order of business should be to communicate the goals of the change as well as your expectations of everyone involved. In this way, no one will be blind-sided when the change occurs. In addition, solid communications ensure that everyone is on the same page and will significantly aid the implementation process.

Make the Change a Win-Win Situation

There is simply no better way to implement change than by showing those affected that the changes will benefit them. Instead of browbeating the staff with top-down management edicts, convince them that the changes will make their jobs easier,  more efficient and, most importantly, more remunerative.  It is this sort of argument that will ultimately make your job as a change agent most successful.

A Final Thought

As you can see, being the change agent for a major or even a minor implementation requires more than a company memo. Instead, a carefully crafted strategy should be developed by the change agent, actively communicated to all involved, and finally, implemented with all the passion you can muster.