Manager as a Change Agent

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The label “change agent” is often accompanied by misunderstanding, cynicism and stereotyping. Managers, employees and HR professionals alike have questioned the value of this role in their organization.

However, as organizations of all kinds face unrelenting changes in their environment, the need for individuals who are capable of turning strategy into reality has created a new legitimacy for the change agent role – which is often located within the Human Resource function. There are several reasons for this trend:

• Human resource professionals have made significant strides over the past decade in becoming business partners; demonstrating the value they can add to the business

• Executives are looking for where the change process can best be managed

• Most business strategies require major changes in people-related issues; Human Resource professionals develop and manage the key “people” systems needed to support organizational change

Change processes and change projects have become major milestones in many organizations’ history. Due to the dynamics in the external environment, many organizations find themselves in nearly continuous change. The scope reaches from smaller change projects in particular sub business units up to corporation-wide transformation processes.

Unfortunately, not every change process leads to the expected results. There are multiple reasons for potential failure: Typical barriers to change are unexpected changes in the external conditions, a lack of commitment in implementation, resistance of people involved, or a lack of resources. The implications of failed change projects go beyond missed objectives. More important is the negative symbolism and the de-motivation of people involved. People within the change team may become dissatisfied with their own performance or with the lack of support they received. In the result, some of them will probably never again be willing to commit...
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