Three Feats of a Savvy Change Agent

Three eggs, verticalChanging an organization is a challenging endeavor. At times, it can be downright frustrating. Yet often, change agents avoid doing the very thing that will enable the change to happen because it seems too difficult. Those who do the most challenging work of change are the ones who see results instead of continuing to bang their heads against the wall.

The following are the three things you can do to distinguish yourself as a savvy change agent.

Give Feedback

Whenever you implement change in an organization, there are people who do things that hinder progress. Someone sticks with old behaviors or skirts the new process. A manager makes decisions and acts in ways that contradict the initiative. One thing is certain – no amount of dropping hints or wishful thinking will fix the situation. If you stay silent, they will continue to bog down the effort. You can only increase the chances of correcting behavior if you give feedback to the one who can change it.

Discuss the Undiscussable

How many meetings go nowhere because the real issue goes unaddressed? The 400-pound gorilla (or some might say the elephant) sits silently in the corner while everyone ignores it. The gorilla is a truth that no one wants to admit, or a touchy subject for at least one person in the room. By mutual silent agreement, it’s undiscussable. Only when the gorilla is dealt with can the team solve the right problem. Shine a light on the difficult topic and help the team discuss it constructively.

Resolve Conflicts

Often, two or more people can’t see eye to eye on a subject that is crucial for them to resolve before the change initiative can move forward. Each sees the situation from his own viewpoint. Any attempt at discussion devolves into heels digging in, or they avoid talking about it at all. It may seem like none of your business, but if their conflict holds back your initiative, then it is your business. You can either coach them individually to see the other person’s perspective, or you can sit them down together and facilitate a resolution that will enable the project to continue.

No doubt, these three feats of savvy change agents are not easy. On the surface, they seem fraught with personal risk. But as a change agent who is responsible for getting things done, if you don’t address the issues that are blocking the change, then the real risk is that the change won’t happen. Luckily, these conversations take more courage than skill. Next time you see an occasion to give feedback, point out an undiscussable issue, or resolve a conflict, recognize it as an opportunity to speak up and stand out as someone who will do what it takes to get the job done.

Does the thought of taking on these feats leave you in a cold sweat? The Influence Accelerator program may be the shot in the arm you need to gain the confidence to have these sticky conversations.

What would you add from your own experience?

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