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Change Agent: Definition & Role

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  • 0:02 Definition and Overview
  • 0:28 Role & Competencies
  • 1:56 Example
  • 2:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Change agents can be vital to struggling organizations, helping them get back on track by adapting to a changing environment. In this lesson, you well learn what a change agent is and the change agent's role. A short quiz will follow the lesson.

Change Agent Definition

A change agent is a person from inside or outside the organization who helps an organization transform itself by focusing on such matters as organizational effectiveness, improvement, and development. A change agent usually focuses his efforts on the effect of changing technologies, structures, and tasks on interpersonal and group relationships in the organization. The focus is on the people in the organization and their interactions.

Roles & Competencies

A change agent is basically a consultant, either from within the organization or brought in as an outsider. They often play the role of a researcher, trainer, counselor, or teacher. Sometimes they will even serve as a line manager. While some change agents specialize in one role, most will shift their roles depending upon the needs of the organization.

You must have four competencies to become an effective change agent:

  1. Broad knowledge: You must not only have broad industry knowledge but a broad range of multidisciplinary knowledge, including conceptual knowledge, diagnostic knowledge, evaluative knowledge, an understanding of methodology for change, and ethical knowledge.
  2. Operational and relational knowledge: You must be able to listen, trust, form relationships, observe, identify, and report. You must be flexible to deal with different types of relationships and behaviors.
  3. Sensitivity and maturity: You must not only be able to demonstrate sensitivity to others, but you must also be sensitive and mature enough to be aware of your own motivations.
  4. Authenticity: You must be authentic. You must act in accordance with the values you seek to promote in the organization. For example, if you recommend a form of management that permits subordinate participation, you should not attempt to impose these changes without the participation of the organizational members. In other words, you should practice what you preach.

Example

Let's say that you are a member of a business-consulting firm and have been hired to serve as a change agent for a struggling manufacturing company in Ohio. You meet with upper management to get their insights into the problems facing the company. You then meet with representatives from middle management and line employees to get their perspectives.

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