This blog has previously addressed the importance of agents of change during times of transition, but organizations often will encounter difficulty in determining exactly who should spearhead change initiatives. While change management consulting can help in this regard, once organizations understand the qualities of effective change agents, the decision is clear.
One of the most important qualities to look for in an effective agent of change is whether a particular professional is able to take responsibility for the result of difficult challenges. This can often be preferable to someone who jumps at every opportunity to showcase their skills, but is always ready with an excuse when problems arise. An effective change agent will be able to diagram what initiatives were successful, and which fell flat. The honesty they embody is crucial in identifying resistance to change, and responding appropriately to employee feedback.
Effective agents of change are also able to motivate a wide variety of individuals. They should be able to clearly and convincingly articulate the reasons the organization needs to change, and how the change will benefit team members moving forward.
Employees also need to be able to trust an agent of change. Change agent candidates should have solid professional relationships and a reputation of following through on their commitments. Employees should never be afraid to approach an agent of change with feedback or concerns.
Finally, an agent of change needs to be both patient and persistent. Real change does not take place quickly or easily. It is important for a change agent to understand this, and not get frustrated within the first few weeks of the change initiative. Their commitment to the the new future of the organization needs to serve as an example for others.