The Role of the Change Master
FROM CHANGE AGENT TO 'CHANGE MASTER'
By Ruth Tearle.
A change agent may be a full time
organisational development professional, a leader of a division or a middle
manager charged with the responsibility of bringing about a change in his/her
area. Anyone involved in helping a team achieve something new becomes an agent
of change. Depending on the type of change he/she is tasked with, a change
agent may perform any of the following roles.
However a change master, is able to perform
all of these roles.
Diagnostician & Developer
of Clear Change Goals.
Like a medical practitioner,
the change agent will begin by diagnosing what the real issues are, and then
proposing clear goal directed solutions. He/she will begin by analysing:
- The existing problems or issues.
- The current reality of the
- The desired future ideal state.
- The barriers preventing the organisation
from achieving that desired state.
- The forces for change that exist within the
- The dreams, goals and values of the key
stakeholders within the organisation
- The organisation's future strategy.
- The organisation's values.
- The organisation's readiness and capacity
- Changes occurring in the organisation's
external environment that may impact on the organisation and its
From this the diagnostician
will determine the type of change required by the organisation.
The most complex role of a
change agent, is getting others to 'buy in' to the change process, and getting
them committed to taking relevant actions. The facilitator gets involved in:
- Identifying the key stakeholders of the
- Involving these stakeholders in the
diagnostic process. This means helping them to achieve consensus on the
changes the organisation needs to make. When done in a participative
process, this helps create ownership for change.
- Helping the stakeholders to set clear goals
for their change process.
- Educating these stakeholders about the
changes they want to make and helping them to understand how the changes
they've selected will impact on the rest of the organisation. (systems
- Helping the stakeholders to understand how
these changes will benefit the company, their division and themselves.
This in turn builds commitment to the change.
- Helping the stakeholders understand the
'costs' of these changes to the company, their division and to themselves
Designing a change process
that will achieve specific change goals, is a creative process. This involves:
- Reviewing all the change tools and
interventions that are available.
- Selecting those specific change tools and
interventions that will help the organisation to achieve its change goals.
- Creating additional activities and
interventions to fill any gaps.
- Checking that each intervention supports
every other intervention, and that all interventions support the company's
values and strategies.
- Arranging and integrating these
interventions into one simple, seamless, step by step process.
- Deciding on the roles that need to be
played to support the process.
The project manager
Many different roles are
required for a change process to work. Often a change agent will play the role
of a project manager and co-ordinate the activities of the different role
players. Typical roles in a change process include:
- A change steering committee.
- Regional coordinators (in large scale
- Departmental or divisional change agents.
- Communications coordinators.
- Individuals within the company.
Those involved in managing
the change, and those who will be affected by the change, often are surprised
by their feelings when confronted by change. Resistance, frustration and
confusion of common emotions associated by change.
A successful change agent
educates people about what to expect from the change process. This includes
topics such as:
- The psychological phases people go through
when experiencing change.
- How to deal with these feelings. How to
help others understand and deal with
- How to deal with 'resistance to change'.
- How to make a change process fun, exciting
and developmental rather than scary and frustrating.
- How to overcome barriers to change.
- Tools for making your change process
- The role of creativity in a change process.
- Many individuals dislike change. While they
see that it may benefit the company, change to them simply means
additional work, inefficiencies, feelings of incompetence, and maybe a
more limited career path.
- The skillful marketer creates the belief
that participating in this change will be:
Fun and rewarding.
An opportunity to develop new
An opportunity to increase
one's visability within the organisation.
Like embarking on an exciting
adventure through which every individual discovers his/her personal magic.
To do this, the marketer
applies innovative marketing techniques more often found in the advertising,
communications industries. These includes :
- Participative media such as web sites,
theatre, and clubs.
- Creative media such as themes, logos,
slogans, story telling, art, music, songs and 'war cries'.
- Themed gifts to reinforce the change.
- Role models and success stories.
Why is the Oprah show so
successful? People react with love, energy, excitement and creativity to
anything that touches their soul. An inspiration agent finds ways to use the
change process to:
- Help individuals discover the magic they
have within them.
- Help individuals to dream of the personal
greatness they could achieve.
- Encourage individuals to take risks to use
their special magic
- Help individuals to overcome barriers to
- Celebrate individual's small successes
Systems Integrator and
Often individuals who
contribute to a change, get discouraged when they find they are being punished
rather than rewarded for their efforts. This situation arises when the reward
and recognition systems in the company are not aligned to the change. The
change agent often needs to ensure that the following systems support the
change he/she is making.
- Incentive and reward systems.
Since organisations are
integrated systems, any change to one part of the system may trigger or
unexpected changes to other parts of the system. Similarly, unless you consider
changes to the culture of your company, you may find that certain elements of
the system may prevent your change from working.
The monitor role regularly
measures progress towards the change goals. He/she constantly questions
"what is working", "what isn't working" and "what do
we need to change".
He/she provides regular
feedback on progress to:
- Other change agents or change roles
- Individuals involved in change.
He/she encourages them to:
- Identify obstacles to change and find
creative ways of overcoming these at their own levels.
- Identify obstacles that require changes to
the entire system and may require approval from the CEO.
- Identify and share success stories
- Turn successful people into role models to
- Recognise and reward those who contribute
Qualities of a Ghange Master
While many people will find
that they can perform one or two of the agent agent roles with ease, a change
master would be able to perform all the change roles.
The ideal change master would
have the following qualities:
- Common sense. And the courage to use it.
- Credibility and trust - the ability to work
at all levels in the organisation.
- A wide range of business knowledge -
preferably someone with experience in 3-4 different areas, or an MBA, or a
general management experience.
- Knowledge of change management.
- The ability to work with teams of people
both inside and outside the organisation. This includes the ability to
work with people across all departments.
- The ability to do very unstructured work.
- Creativity. The ability custom design
processes to meet the goals of the organisation.
- Self confidence balanced by humility.
- A love of innovation and new ways of doing
- A sense of humour and a sense of fun.
- The ability to inspire people. To bring out
the magic within every individual and every team.
© Ruth Tearle
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