Article

Change agents: a key connector in the change process.

The world of work is in a state of permanent change. And the pandemic has accelerated this change: Employees did not come to the office for months; home has become the office and digital meetings have become a matter of course. Many have become accustomed to more self-determination but miss the creative exchange with the team. For companies, this means that they must adapt to the new circumstances – spatially, but also culturally. Only in this way can the “New Normal” be lived successfully and experienced positively.

As a New Work consultancy, workingwell has already accompanied numerous change processes in companies. From years of experience, we know how important strategically planned change management is when introducing new working models and spaces.

 

Change management: What are the tasks of change agents?

A central role in the change process is played by change agents – selected employees who act as role models throughout the project and ensure that the flow of information works in all directions. They take on the important role of liaison and mediator between the project team and employees, making it easier for them to understand and accept the changes and feel involved in the overall process.

Change agents have multiple roles in their role as representatives of employees:

  • As seismographs, they learn about the general mood and which topics are currently being discussed through informal conversations with colleagues
  • As a mouthpiece, they provide their colleagues with information from the project team and communicate their needs, questions and concerns to the project team.
  • As a lighthouse, they provide orientation and serve as role models for the change process.
  • As designers, they work together with the other stakeholders on the project and contribute their own ideas and those of their colleagues.

The work of change agents is particularly valuable in organisations where contacts are mainly limited to direct colleagues. By communicating with the different teams, change agents promote a common identity and thus reduce the dreaded silo thinking. Change agents don’t only bring their own ideas into the project, but also the suggestions and concerns of the employees they represent. In this way, they bring a culture of participation, togetherness and ownership to life.

 

How are change agents involved in a change process?

 In the first step, it is important that everyone involved agrees on the common goal. Is it about establishing new working models and familiarising employees with them? Is it to increase their identification with the company? Are processes to be optimised? Only when there is clarity and agreement can all those involved work together towards the goal.

Only then can the concrete tasks of the change agents be defined. Is the focus on understanding and incorporating the needs of the employees (communication to the project team)? Should the teams be motivated to go along with the change process (communication to the teams)?

The next step is to clarify what is needed for change agents to fulfil their role. What structures are necessary? What (communication) tools? And also: what time and financial resources need to be planned? In order to make the process agile, it should be constantly checked whether the measures are successful or need to be adapted.

 

What makes the work of a change agent successful?

In order to guarantee the most successful change process possible, there are certain guidelines not only for the change agents, but also for the organisation:

  • Change agents should relate to their colleagues and the project team and stay in regular contact with them. It is important that they take a genuine interest in the wishes, ideas and concerns of their colleagues and communicate quickly and transparently in both directions, e.g. at regular meetings or via newsletter contributions.
  • The organisation should create the framework and enable participation. This means that a framework is defined within which the change agents can become active and that resources are planned and information provided.
  • Change agents and the organisation should provide guidance and maintain flexibility. This includes defining and communicating the roles, procedures and timeline of the project. At the same time, flexibility must be maintained to respond to ideas, enable initiatives and change plans for a better solution.

What qualities does a change agent need?

Any employee who understands the company culture, is open to change, enjoys helping to shape a project and likes to communicate can become a change agent. Experience has shown that it is good for the project if the change agents come from different areas and hierarchies of the organisation. This ensures that they reach as many colleagues as possible. It also makes sense to hold preparatory training sessions and workshops in which, for example, communication channels are defined and the rules of the game for their work are discussed.

 

How can workingwell support the change process?

Change is necessary. And it can succeed. Its success often stands or falls with well-planned change support. workingwell has already successfully implemented a lot of change measures together with its customers – thanks to continuous and open communication on all important topics. As has been shown time and again, the concrete involvement of employees in the design process leads to greater acceptance of and identification with the new working world.  The workingwell team of experts not only supports companies in empowering change agents – we also assist companies throughout the entire change process with various measures, such as reference visits, change strategy, employee support and communication. You can find out more about our services here.

The workingwell Academy also offers training courses that enable managers and employees to master change processes confidently.