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A change agent is a management specialist who typically recommends adjustments to improve productivity, employee relations and profit margins. He normally focuses on amending or replacing policies and procedures that may be hindering growth. His expertise may be needed by small companies, medium size businesses or large corporations. He typically works for profit and nonprofit organizations in the private and public sectors.
The approach a change agent takes in helping companies improve their operations is often considered his main asset and what distinguishes him from a traditional business management consultant. He is customarily expected to present solutions in a manner that inspires and motivates management and staff to change for the greater good of everyone. A change agent generally concentrates on engaging employees rather than offering harsh criticisms along with must-do lists of inflexible solutions.
Analyzing a company’s chain of command is often the first task a change agent undertakes upon being hired. Identifying the players in the management hierarchy helps him determine which ones he will likely need to coach to improve performance as well as those who are setting a good example for others. This assessment generally includes everyone from the chief operating officer down to the front-line leaders and supervisors in various departments.
The agent customarily proceeds to examining the firm’s operating systems and organizational structures. This commonly encompasses reviewing accounting and bookkeeping practices, equipment and property leasing agreements and, if applicable, manufacturing or production processes. Efficiency and profitability in these areas is customarily the focus of the agent’s inquiries.
Once the business’ employees and systems have been evaluated, a change agent normally sets up a schedule to coach and mentor specific managers and project leaders. His goal is typically to lead by example, and he often illustrates his suggestions for improvements through sharing illustrative anecdotes and role-playing. If these non-confrontational approaches are not successful, he frequently implements more direct methods of presenting solutions.
At the conclusion of his evaluation, a change agent ordinarily presents a written report of his conclusions and recommendations to management and other key personnel. He typically checks back with the company at predetermined intervals to determine if his efforts have been successful. The company is generally encouraged to contact the agent in the interim with any questions or concerns.
A person in this position is typically required to have exemplary communication skills. His ability to successfully connect with people at all levels is normally imperative to his success. Well developed listening skills are important to recognize the subtexts in conversations with employees and management.
A degree in business management, business administration or related fields is desirable. Some companies require a bachelor’s degree while other positions often demand a master’s degree. Experience in a management or business analysis position is strongly preferred.
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