Are You a Change Agent?


With unemployment reaching an all time low and the continued creation of new jobs in today’s economic boom times, we are all facing the challenges of attracting good workers.  Employers face a new economy, a new workplace and new workers with new expectations and demands.  We are finding more and more that the old approaches and strategies no longer work effectively. 

Recruitment today does not resemble what it was in the past.  It will be the focus of the future success of organizations.  To be successful, we must influence changes in process, strategies and the old ways of thinking about recruitment.  Are you a change agent within your organization?  Are the leaders of your recruitment function an agent for change? 

One of the most significant factors that impede success in recruitment is lack of leadership’s understanding and support.  It is up to us to implement and educate on change.    

A change agent, as defined by Six Sigma, is a person who has the clout, the conviction, and the charisma to make things happen and to keep people engaged. Change agents employ a number of skills—they must:

  • Understand, but not participate in, an organization’s politics
  • Be able to "deconstruct" an organization or process and put it back together in original, innovative ways
  • Be keen analyzers who can clearly and persuasively defend their analyses to the organization
  • Speak many organizational languages—marketing, finance, systems management
  • Understand the financial impacts of change, whether brought on by radical overhaul or incremental continuous improvements.

In essence, they must bring order out of chaos. Successful leaders share a number of qualities:

  • Grant decision-making authority in exchange for accountability for results. Leading organizations really study their processes—learning how they contribute to or hamper mission accomplishment. Leaders give managers extensive authority to make improvements to mission-related processes and systems.
  • Use a range of tools to encourage a results orientation. Employee incentive and accountability mechanisms are aligned with the goals of the organization.
  • Take steps to build the necessary expertise and skills. View training as an investment in human capital rather than an unnecessary expense. Consistent with quality management principles, this on going education must be continuous so that skills are kept up-to-date and changing customer needs are always met.
  • Integrate the implementation of separate improvement efforts, no matter what the source.  Top leadership knows how to meld these various reforms into coherent, unified efforts.

Things to look out for when influencing change.

  • Cultural resistance. Parochialism and cultural resistance to change can play a critical role in hindering recruitment reform efforts. The more deeply rooted these attitudes are, the more difficult comprehensive change will be.
  • Unclear goals and performance measures. Many managers lack clear, roadmaps that offer straightforward illustrations of how their work contributes to attaining strategic goals.
  • Lack of incentives for change. For many employers, performance is measured by the amount of money spent, people employed, or tasks completed. Increased attention should be given to rewarding behaviors that meet strategic, results-based goals.

Numerous driving forces motivate the behavior of change agents. An agent who is constantly adapting to new practices is often motivated to find better ways to do things. Guiding, nurturing, and shepherding human capital are the skills most needed to ensure that organizational change is received and implemented enthusiastically within recruitment, rather than with distrust and fear. The degree to which leaders/recruiters are able to manage change, develop consensus, and sustain commitment will determine the success (or failure) of any recruitment function or change effort within an organization.

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