Change agents are the persons who initiate change and manage change in the organizations. They are specialized in theory and practice of managing changes. The change agent may be a member of organization or an outsider such as a consultant. An internal agent very well knows the organization and have ability, knowledge and experience of directing people for changes. But, internal agent is removed from regular duties to concentrate on the transition. However, external agents view the organization from the system point of view and is much affected by the organization norms. Top managers also prefer hiring specialized consultant change agents as they can offer more objective prospective than insiders. External experts are, however, not well aware of the desires and attributes of the employees, therefore, the changes suggested by them are generally resisted by the employees.
Change agents have five set of powers as support of managers is essential but not enough. Following are the powers,
- High status given by the members of the client organization, based on their perception that the change agent is similar to them in behaviour, language etc.
- Trust based on his consistent handling of information and maintaining proper role in the organization.
- Expertise in the practice of organizational change.
- Credibility based on experience with previous clients.
- Dissatisfied constitutions who see the change agents as the best opportunity to change the organization to meet their needs.
There are four subject matters which a change agent can change.
- Structure: Structure is defined as how the tasks are formally divided, grouped and co-ordinated. For inastance, change in plant layout or new technique can only succeed when the structure is changed according to change in environment. He may also change responsibility, authority, functions, performance according to the need of the change. He might also redesign jobs or work schedule.
- Technology: The introduction of new equipment and work process is technological change. Automation or computerization is the common technological change. Major technological changes involve introduction of new tools and equipment, automation, computerization.
- People: This involves changing attitudes and behaviour of members thorugh communication, decision making and problem solving. They help individuals to work more efficiently and effectively together. The changes may only be possible in case the members are positive. In case there is lack of agreement, stress and tension occurs with the employees.
- Physical Setting: It involves change in interior design, equipment placement, plant layout, tool placement. These changes are helpful in organizational development. Physical setting considers flow process, information flow and outcome. The smoothness of flow increases the effectiveness of changes.
The basic objective of change agents is to increase effectiveness, performance and satisfaction.