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Change Agents Deal With People & Should Follow These 4 Tips

The role of the Change Agent is critical during any change initiative. And we hear it often from clients – they want to know the short list. What is the top handful of action items their Change Agents should focus on?

So it’s with that we’ve put together our top 4 – the most critical –  to-dos that should be on the top of every Change Agent’s list.


  1. Listen & listen & listen. Change agents often talk too much. They need to find out what the problems are, where they are and how severe they are.  They don’t find that out by talking.  Setting up safe and effective ways for targets to tell them the things they need to do is a key tool of the effective change agent.
  2. Translate the messages to targets and sponsors in language that is meaningful to them. When they get around to talking (or to writing the sponsors’ key messages), change agents frequently have developed their own language around the change.  They assume that targets know why the change is necessary and jump right into explaining what the change will look like. They often forget that the way they package a message for the senior management they’re working with as sponsors and the way to package a message for the customer service representative is different.
  3. Build team strength at the project level, in the senior management group, and among target groups. The complex and sophisticated changes change agents are implementing do not happen because of a single player.  Teams of people act as implementers as sponsors, as the designers of the three change systems of communication, learning, and rewards. Effective team dynamics are key to successful change.  The wise change agents tap into the organization’s skill at developing and maintaining teams.  If this skill is not resident in the organization, the smart change agent goes out to get it.
  4. Tune in, Translate, & Talk. We mentioned before that Change agents often talk too much. But after they listen they need to talk, and at that time, they sometimes talk too little. They need to respond to the target’s needs and continually relate information about the change and how the target will be affected. These are informal communications delivered not as a sponsor, but as a colleague. All involved in the change must communicate at every opportunity.

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