Practical steps to build your Change Agent Network

Change Agents, Change Champions, Change Ambassadors are the names given to those colleagues who are keen to volunteer in making change happen, and are willing to help their colleagues understand the change and develop new ways of working.

These 8 practical, easy to follow steps will help you build a network of committed, enthusiastic staff who will help you realise the benefits from your projects and programmes via the adoption of change.

Step 1 Find your Change Agents

Finding your Change Agents is a mixture of seeking out those who are most closely involved in the area of work that is going to be changed, along with those that want to volunteer to help make the change a reality.

You need to find those that combine real understanding of the current ways of working with a desire to make improvements, who believe that change is essential and cannot be delayed. They must also have the support of their colleagues.

Talk to those in the area of the business that is going to be affected by change and listen out for the names of those that others reference as “subject matter experts”. The best way to find the kind of person you are looking for is to have them recommended by their colleagues.

Never forget you are building a “cascade” so those you identify first are going to be your “lead” Change Agents, with the hope that they will identify their colleagues who can also take on the role of Change Agent, and in turn, they should look out for colleagues who can act as Change Agents.

Step 2 Put support in place for your network

To ensure your Change Agents can get off and running as quickly as possible, appoint someone within the central team as overseer of the network. This person develops materials that can be used by all the Change Agents and helps to coach them when they are struggling with aspects of their role.

Step 3 Explain the role of Change Agent

People need to understand what it is they are getting involved in, and too often, there isn’t any real understanding of what change management is or how to achieve it. Host a webinar or series of webinars to introduce the value of change management.

The learning outcomes for these webinars are:

  • Explain what Change Management is and how it differs from Project Management
  • Explain the value of managing change
  • Define the role of a Change Agent and why this is an important role.

Step 4 On-board your Change Agents

There will be a mixture of individuals who volunteer because the role is interesting to them and Managers who will nominate staff members because they want insight into the changes, or they are providing development opportunities for these staff.

The following steps enable you to work with your Change Agents over time, providing a mixture of training and doing what they have been trained to do. Experience has taught me not to provide all the training up front as this is both over-whelming and inefficient. This is because we need to provide opportunities for Change Agents to put into practice what they have been taught as soon as they have experienced the training, so that they build new skills.

Step 5 Train them

Take your “lead” Change Agents through an accredited training course to ensure they are qualified to build their credibility. The learning outcomes for this course include:

  • Creating a Roadmap for the lifecycle of the change, so they can plan when changes are going to be made to current ways of working.
  • Understand how to identify the benefits associated with the change via a Benefits Dependency Network.
  • Use this understanding of benefits to prioritises the changes.
  • Identify the factors that create a supportive, motivating environment for making change happen.

Step 6 Mobilise your Change Agents

Support your Change Agents as they host activities in their area of the business to build their local Change Agent Network. These activities include:

  • Host a team meeting to explain their role to their colleagues
  • Facilitate a discussion to agree the scope and impact of the change on their current ways of working.

Lead Change Agents are provided with centrally developed materials including slides and script for each event so that they do not have the pressure of having to create presentations and training materials for their colleagues. This also means that each Change Agent can deliver similar sessions, providing consistency of message across your network.

Step 7 Provide further training

Train your Lead Change Agents to build practical ability in change management techniques so they can work with their colleagues to create new ways of working.

The learning outcomes for this training include:

  • How to create an agenda of interesting activities for a workshop and how to facilitate this workshop so that everyone participates.
  • How to host a World Café meeting to generate discussion about the change.
  • How to create process flow diagrams, RACI tables and KSA charts to capture the detailed changes to current ways of working.

Step 8 Ensure Change Agents are creating new ways of working

Using the training from the step above, ensure that Change Agents are moving the change from idea to reality by working with colleagues to create new ways of working, and to practice these new ways of working so that they become “business as usual”.#