Coping with being a change agent

by Human Capital17 Mar 2014
Organisational change happens on many levels, from small-scale changes to policies and procedures through to high impact leadership overhauls that impact the entire culture of the business. When change is afoot, it’s up to HR professionals to lead the charge.
Leading change, particularly in large organisations, can be hard work and often, it offers little instant gratification.
To sustain the energy and drive to lead that change and become a true ‘change agent’, HR professionals must take “proactive steps to protect their psyche”, according to Sachin H. Jain, Harvard lecturer and chief medical information and innovation officer at Merck.
“Many commentators on innovation focus on the substance and approach to work, however, they abstract away the mental grit needed to cope with what often can be a lonely existence,” Jain said.
“Building the personal reserve to cope with and manage through the inevitable challenges that one will encounter in these settings will be the difference between making merely an incremental mark and leading lasting change.”
Regardless of how well-armed you are in your quest to lead the new agenda, you will inevitably come up against resistance, he added.
“Challenging an organisation’s status quo never comes without frustration, even in the very best of circumstances when organisations have declared a need to change,” Jain said.
“[Resistance] comes in many forms – undermining whispers, scolding for not having followed defined process, and backhanded praise – and often it’s cast as ‘trying to help’.”
If you come up against these challenges in a change management situation, Jain suggested you confront those involved with facts if they are misinformed. Otherwise, simply ignore them and get on with the task as hand.
“They are an endless drain on your energy,” he said.
Shiona Watson HR Director - Australia, PepsiCo, will talk about ‘Change management: The art and science of leading change’ at our 2014 HR Summit, held in Sydney on April 1-2. For more information, click here.


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