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What is a Change Agent?
A change agent is an individual within the organization who is the driving force behind the organizational change. The agent may be responsible for change-related activities or, more commonly, they may motivate others through any number of methods.
Change Agents can be grouped into two categories:
- Internal Change Agent – These are internal members of the organization – generally managers. They are generally appointed by the organization rather than assuming the role proactively or by accident.
- External Change Agent – The external change agents effectuate change in the organization from outside. These individuals are generally stakeholders (such as buyers, suppliers, customers, etc.), formal agents (such as consultants), or outside authorities (such as government or industry regulators).
Whether internal or external, the change agent generally makes direct or indirect changes to the existing processes, procedures, structure, strategy, or culture of the organization with a focus on organizational effectiveness, innovation, advancement, and compliance.
Change Agents generally exercise power through formal authority or motivation. Relevant skills for the change agent include:
- Cognitive Skills – The ability to understand, conceptualize, and evaluate.
- Action Skills – The ability to competently analyze, consult, research, train, counsel, etc.
- Communication Skills – The ability to effectively use available channels of communication to transmit information accurately and effectively throughout the organization.