The paper “Interpersonal and Technical Skills of a Change Agent" is an intriguing example of a term paper on management. The uncertainties in the environment make organizations constantly seek to adopt changes hence the need for a change agent. A change agent refers to that person charged with the management of the change effort (Griffin & Moorhead, 2012). This person would be responsible for helping the management in recognizing and defining the need for change and further in generating and evaluating the course of action. A change agent could be a member of the organization or an outsider, including an employee from the organization’s headquarters viewed as an outsider by other employees. According to Lunenburg (2010), an internal change agent would have prior knowledge on the organization’s politics, processes, people and tasks, which plays a critical role in data interpretation and understanding the system. However, such an agent could fail to objectively view a situation, thus the usefulness of an outsider’s impartiality.
In the final step of change management, referred to as evaluation, the change agent would be assessed based on the degree to which the desired effect was attained. The progress towards the attainment of the change process goals would be assessed and the necessary changes made (Griffin & Moorhead, 2012). Therefore, selection of a change agent plays a critical role in attaining such goals. According to Nelson and Quick (2013), such an agent should involve all members of an organization from all levels and as such serve as a collaborator and helper, bringing in new ideas at each phase of the change process. Hence, the choice of a change agent should be based on a balance between interpersonal traits and technical skills that would propagate such outcomes.
Establishment of a strong relationship between the change agent and followers would minimize resistance to change in any organization (Nelson & Quick, 2013). Therefore, interpersonal skills would be of paramount importance to a change agent in achieving the intended objectives. One of the key interpersonal skills required is communication skills. According to Crawford and Nahmias (2010), this is a critical attribute required of a change agent as such a person would be required to communicate through, on behalf of and with people involved in or affected by the change process. It has also been noted that change could upset people or make them enthusiastic, overjoyed or shy. With this myriad of mixed emotions and feelings, the change agent should be tolerant and empathetic (Lunenburg, 2010). Persuasiveness would enable the change agent to convince the followers and team leaders to adopt the prescribed changes. In addition, openness, referring to the ability of the change agent to hear and respond and be influenced by others, would promote accommodation of diverse contributions and thus ownership of the change process. With people being a critical component of a change process, Blaber (2012) argues for negotiation as an important interpersonal skill for a change agent. This would promote the implementation of the intended, and at the same time win the confidence of the followers on the adopted course of action. Finally, the change agent should offer visionary leadership so as to lead followers to the desired goal.
Technical skills would be critical for a successful change agent, particularly when seeking to accomplish a change that is of large scope. According to Nelson and Quick (2013), each stage of the change process would require specific technical skills, hence the need for flexibility. With the many conflicts associated with the change process, a change agent should possess conflict resolution skills (Cunnings & Worley, 2009). Appreciating the need for technical skills for change agents, Crawford and Nahmias (2010) observe the many training programs instigated by organizations to equip their staff with skills necessary to make them oversee changes. The scholar points out network analysis, charting and system diagramming as some of the technical skills that change agents receive training on. Furthermore, Blaber (2012) documents presented as a skill that would enable the change agent effectively explain to the followers and the team managers the plan in a way that they would understand and participate in the process.
Change often causes conflicts in organizations if managed inappropriately and could fail to yield the desired results. For this reason, the characteristics of the change agent, being the person responsible for the process, plays a critical role in ensuring that the objectives are met. The interpersonal skills required of a successful change agent include communication skills, persuasiveness, openness, negotiation, and visionary leadership. Coupled with the necessary technical skills such as conflict resolution, network analysis, charting, system diagramming and presentation skills, the change agent stands to realize the objectives of the change process. A proper analysis of the change situation would determine the most appropriate attributes for successful change management.