Why Change? And What is an Agent of Change?

5 Jul, 2017

Change is inevitable. It happens whether we are ready or not. Even so, time and time again we hear the same phrases: “it’s always been done this way” or “why fix something if it isn’t broken?”. These phrases are messages of resistance to change. The problem with that way of thinking is that you don’t know what you don’t know! Sometimes, we think we fully understand something that we really don’t. It’s called the knowledge gap and the more we cling to ways of thinking that serve to resist change, the wider the gap becomes.

Let’s take a moment to address some of the reasons why people resist change and follow up with reasons why change should be seen as good, and not bad.

Why do people resist change?

1) People fear change. The unknown is scary and we don’t know how it will personally affect us, our unions, our business and our communities. There is comfort in the status quo.

2) “Been there, done that”. Many people have tried to change things and it might have failed. Why would it work this time?

3) “Why do we need to change? Everything has been working great so far! Why fix it if it isn’t broken”. People don’t see the need to change something if there isn’t a problem with it.

Why should we embrace change?

1) The world is constantly evolving- if we don’t embrace change we can fall behind and lose relevance. Someone else will pick up the slack or leverage our weaknesses to their advantage.

2) “Why fix it if it isn’t broken” Just because it doesn’t appear broken to some people, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Listen to the people who are advocating change and find out their reasons behind it. Of all of our skills, we are perhaps least adept at active listening!

3) Change can be painful, and the transition might require some adjusting. But change can also create efficiency and growth in the long run.

Change is difficult for most people, but the organizations and people that embrace and execute change continuously are seen as progressive, relevant and efficient. Enabling change can be really challenging which is why you can’t do it alone. There are many factors to consider when implementing change and oftentimes the biggest factor to consider is your biggest resource: your people. Your people can either make or break the change you want to implement; which is why you need your people on side. To do this, you need help of Change Agents.

What is an Agent of Change?

Agents of Change can be many people: our Members, an Organizer, a Business Manager, a Steward, a Foreman, a Union Leader, or a Contractor. What they all have in common is that they are leaders, whether by nature or position is not relevant. You need ALL levels of leadership on board with a change initiative or it’s doomed to fail. By helping leadership at all levels understand their part with the change, they take responsibility and you have a better chance at succeeding. The key is to harness different perspectives and address any concerns or issues that might arise.  This is especially true for anyone in leadership who might be threatened by the proposed change- that is why so many workplace initiatives fail; some sabotage it because their personal space or power is viewed (by them) as being at risk. You need an army of Change Agents who believe in the cause to truly succeed in bringing about change.

In our next blog post we will discuss the power of influence; there are many ways to bring about change that don’t require authority alone.