4.3 Change networks
A change network is a group of individuals who lead and support colleagues through change during a time of transition or transformation. Establishing a change network provides reinforcement to the messages being delivered through line management cascades and other communication channels. It also offers a further method of gaining feedback on how people are adapting to change and how they are feeling about it. Its members can be instrumental in breaking down barriers and obstacles and in refining the project approach. It is a function that is integrated and incorporated into the individual’s regular job.
There are two distinct roles in the change network – change champions and change agents, otherwise known as change team members. Each brings different skills and has a particular part to play.
- Change champions are a selected group of leaders who can shape the desired outcomes and deliver the vision for the change. They have an input into the design, planning and execution of change-related activities.
- Change agents or change team members are functional representatives with subject matter or process knowledge. They act as change advocates, supporting change through day-to-day activities, and do the work required to support the change activity.
There are many benefits of developing a change network, and not just for the change project:
- For the project
- Act as a catalyst for change
- Identify ‘hot spots’ of resistance
- Feedback on the changes within teams
- Act as a conduit of communication.
- For the organisation
- Acquire change skills – a scarce resource
- Internal ‘consultant’ capability
- Future change leader to drive continued improvements.
- For the agent
- Greater job satisfaction
- Helping to shape the future
- Higher profile and visibility
- Increased confidence.
Activity 6 Change networks in your organisation
Read the two parts of the blog ‘Building a change network that works’ at the links below.
- Building a change network that works – Part 1 of 2 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (Bakowski, 2021a)
- Building a change network that works – Part 2 of 2 (Bakowski, 2021b)
Now consider what steps you might take to set up a change network. If your organisation already has a change network, how you could work with it?
Use the box below to capture your reflections, if you wish.
So, you’ve thought about your communication plan. Next, you should consider those around you who can offer support. This is what we explore in the following section.