So you want to be a Change Agent?

I was recently reading Dagmar Recklies’ article titled What Makes a Good Change Agent? and started thinking about some of the people that I know who are good at change…and some who completly destroy any opportunities for change.

In the article, 15 Competencies are listed that a good change agent should have.  These competencies are:

15 Key Competencies of Change Agents

  1. Sensitivity to changes in key personnel, top management perceptions and market conditions, and to the way in which these impact the goals of the project.
  2. Setting of clearly defined, realistic goals.
  3. Flexibility in responding to changes without the control of the project manager, perhaps requiring major shifts in project goals and management style.
  4. Team-building abilities, to bring together key stakeholders and establish effective working groups, and to define and delegate respective responsibilities clearly.
  5. Networking skills in establishing and maintaining appropriate contacts within and outside the organization.
  6. Tolerance of ambiguity, to be able to function comfortably, patiently and effectively in an uncertain environment.
  7. Communication skills to transmit effectively to colleagues and subordinates the need for changes in the project goals and in individual tasks and responsibilities.
  8. Interpersonal skills, across the range, including selection, listening, collecting appropriate information, identifying the concerns of others, and managing meetings.
  9. Personal enthusiasm in expressing plans and ideas.
  10. Stimulating motivation and commitment in others involved.
  11. Selling plans and ideas to others by creating a desirable and challenging vision of the future.
  12. Negotiating with key players for resources, for changes in procedures, and to resolve conflict.
  13. Political awareness in identifying potential coalitions, and in balancing conflicting goals and perceptions.
  14. Influencing skills, to gain commitment to project plans and ideas form potential skeptics and resisters.
  15. Helicopter perspectives, to stand back from the immediate project and take a broader view of priorities.

Looks like a fairly good list.

Take a look at some of the main terms found in these competencies.  You’ll see words like:

  • Sensitivity
  • Flexibility
  • Networking
  • Tolerance
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal
  • Political Awareness
  • Influencing

Great list…and one that many many people overlook when they are trying to bring change into an organization.

If you want to be a Change Agent, the first thing on your agenda should be to understand where the organization (and you) have been.

The second thing you need to do?  Listen.

Why is listening so important?  Because you can’t change what you don’t know or understand.  The only way to learn and understand is to listen to the organization and the people within it. In order to create lasting and meaningful change, you’ve got to understand why things have been done before you suggest changing things.

For lasting change, take a look at the 15 competencies above and make them your competencies. Do this and the change you want might just be a bit easier to bring about.

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