As time marches on and organizations grow, there is often a need for businesses to introduce new technologies to support expansion, improve efficiencies, reduce costs, and keep remaining competitive. But achieving successful adoption of new technology is not always easy. Organizations have to select persons that can help lead the successful implementation of this change. This is where a change agent comes in.
A change agent is a person that helps to effect the desired changes. The projects they undertake can vary, from helping ensure full adoption of new technology to adapting to a new management structure. They can be internal or external to the organization.
Internal change agents are often selected from management to help lead change. But sometimes a person of lower rank can be selected, particularly if they possess the right skills, knowledge, and characteristics to guide others through this process. It is also helpful when the person selected is respected by colleagues hence improving chances they will follow his lead. External change agents are often consultants with the right expertise that are hired to support the change effort.
Change management in an organization can also be brought about through a change agent network. A change agent network is a select group of individuals that bridge the gap between the project and the various parts of the organization.
This option makes more sense when you have various parts or departments of the business that will be affected by this change. Having representation from these various parts will ensure better communication and a feeling by employees that their interests are being considered and concerns better addressed. The members of these change networks are sometimes referred to as change advocates or champions. They help to promote, plan, execute, and support changes being made in the organization.
Need of Change Networks for Successful Technology Implementation
New technologies are continually being developed to help businesses perform better. Complex technology solution implementations such as Snowflake Database, Oracle, Salesforce, and Workday
have become the norm across various industries to gain a competitive advantage and efficiently deliver an improved customer experience.
In introducing these systems to the organization, network change management is the key to ensuring successful adoption. It can be a huge waste of time, opportunity, and resources when technologies are not correctly introduced and fully adopted by employees.
It can also lead to setbacks that will hinder business progress. Hence the need for change advocates that will lead the charge and ensure technology implementation is fully accepted throughout the organization, with sufficient training and other resources provided to support this.
The benefits of these newly adopted technologies are jeopardized when organizations fail to consider the change management in their technology implementation plan. Managing this transition is a vital aspect that must be properly allocated sufficient resources and personnel.
It is important to remember that when bringing new change to the organization, there are employees that will not be familiar with the new systems being introduced. They need to be afforded sufficient training to bring them up to speed. Not paying proper attention to employees’ needs during large scale technology implementations can significantly decrease employee engagement.
When employees feel demoralized, this can affect not just the business investment in the new technology but also ongoing productivity. Diverse resource allocation is needed for effective change management. Through the use of change networks, organizations can better determine the level of resources that are needed across the various departments to achieve successful introduction and adoption of the new technology.
Benefits of Change Agent Network
Change agents, or advocates, play many roles in helping to facilitate change. besides helping to promote effective communication between the employees and the project, they also help to encourage employees to understand and wholeheartedly accept the incoming change. Their knowledge allows them to help in understanding the technology and the benefits it will bring to the organization and the work that employees do. Other benefits include:
Management tends to take a macro view when it comes to bringing change into the organization. Change agents that are representing their departments will have a clearer insider view that better details how this change will impact employees and their ability to deliver on their targets.
They can communicate whatever challenges to management so that suitable changes can be made to the project to ensure better adoption. They are a channel that can help escalate concerns when employee sentiment is against changes. They also make it easier for management to respond effectively, as they can frame whatever feedback in a positive way that will appeal to those at lower levels.
2. Honest Feedback
While change agents are often seen as a liaison between management and employees, their role leans more towards acting as an advocate for employees. Advocating on behalf of employees is important as they are the end-users on whose shoulders the successful technology implementation is placed.
Change agents are the ones that deliver feedback from employees to the change network. The change network then brainstorms on how to resolve these issues, with the change agent then communicating their response to the team. This communication can also be facilitated between the end-users and the technical team that are in a better position to make changes that will make it easier for the new system to be integrated and used.
3. Effective Communication
This is the most important role of change agents. Ensuring a good flow of communication, back and forth between end-users and the change network is key to successful change management. It helps establish trust between the parties and a more positive attitude towards the adoption of the new technology.
To boost success in their role, change agents must demonstrate confidence and knowledge in the new technology. They need to be effective communicators that can relay information between their peers in the change network and the employee end-users. Their understanding of this project and how it will benefit the business will help chart strategy and planning.
4. Change Advocacy
People are naturally resistant to change. Employees that already feel they are performing well will also feel threatened that any change may affect their productivity. This could be linked to performance reviews and even their remuneration. While in some ways old is gold, progress does call for the adoption of new innovations. However, despite the reality that change is inevitable, people sometimes need extra encouragement to get with the program.
Change agents are meant to be selected not just for their knowledge, but also their influence amongst their peers. They must be respected and have a reputation for having integrity. This will make them more effective advocates that are capable of persuading end-users of the need to quickly learn and adapt as this will help enhance their ability to deliver an improved customer experience and make their work more streamlined and efficient. They also need to be pragmatic and have negotiation skills to better mediate where there are challenges.
5. Focal point for change
Being a focal point for change means the organization has a central location where communication can be channeled to and from. The change network also becomes a central place where meetings can be regularly held, actions and responses reviewed, plans and strategies outlined, communications channeled, and act as a source of oversight.
It provides a hub for the organization when it comes to anything related to the change. The change agent or network is at the center of this focus where all guidance and information will be sourced. For many change agents, they also already fill other roles within the organization. Taking on the role of change agent and the responsibilities it entails will require the person to be able to multitask as well.