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Key role: The Change Agent

Margie Powers, MSW, MPH Jodi Simon, MPH June 2003

Change agent responsibilities

Change agent play important support roles in change implementation:

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Guides, educators, facilitators and cheerleaders Typically internal consultants with technical expertise, such as QI, IT Play supportive role; not in position to design, lead project

Ways of providing support

Plan change process with sponsors Facilitate meetings, build creative environment Integrate ideas into change design Ensure project team has necessary skills, training Remove barriers to change Coach sponsor

Gaining credibility with physicians

Change agent role foreign to physicians; difficult to understand value Typically, agent not a physician; subject to mistrust Facilitation and encouragement can be perceived as patronizing

Valuable characteristics & behaviors

Respect for clinical & non-clinical staff Balance process with results Keep commitments; follow through when asked for help Demonstrate active listening Withhold judgment Avoid taking personal credit for groups work

Agent/sponsor relationship

Critical to understand roles different, have unique responsibilities Change implementation most effective when understand, support each other Agent cannot move change without sponsor

Critical success factors

Support of leaders; leaders have power & authority, not agent Encourage others to lead project; make effort NOT to do work of project lead Promoting buy-in more important than moving quickly Make the case for change again and again until obtain leadership interest & buy-in

Building relationships

Being effective as change agent largely depends on ability to form relationships:


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Assertiveness: be self-confident without arrogance; have strong belief in what youre doing Non-threatening: be low-key & supportive; show that your intention is to help Trustworthy: show that you can be trusted from the top to the front line