Being an organizational change agent

As we look to transform our community, we often overlook the powerful role that we can play as change agents within our own organization. After all, if we work to ensure our organizations are more effective and just, we can help to boost their transformative impact.

But becoming an organizational change agent isn’t always easy. Here are some thoughts for how you can get started:

  • Prove yourself. The leadership of your organization is not going to be interested in seeing you take on additional projects if you haven’t demonstrated success in the work you were hired to do. Make sure you are always delivering over and above on the work you’ve been assigned before you start exploring other opportunities to impact the organization.
  • Start small. You might have a grand idea that would have a transformative impact on the organization’s work, but most likely that won’t be the first place you are able to exercise influence. Find areas where you can build up a number of small wins, so that you can earn the trust you need to tackle the big things.
  • Find allies. Not everyone is interested in listening to the young “whipper snapper” who’s full of ideas. That means that some times you need to send your message through someone else. Find those folks in management who are most receptive to change, and let them carry your ideas forward. Better to see the change take place than to get the credit.
  • Be persistent. Being a change agent is not for the weak of heart. Sometimes, you’ll throw out an idea and it will get immediately smacked down. Two months later, that same idea may get a totally different response. Be patient and look for opportunities that are ripe for a positive response, and just keep at it!

So that should give you an idea of how to get started. Now it’s your turn… Where have you been able to act as an organizational change agent? What advice would you give others?


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