The change agent’s contract


As a change agent, you play a vital role in contributing to effective change execution.

Given that working with change is high in both opportunity and risk, it’s important to be very precise in defining and executing your role.

Setting You Up for Success

One of the most constructive and positive steps you can take as a change agent is to set up a deliberate “contract” or set of expectations for your role. This is not only helpful to your change sponsor and leaders, but it’s also a powerful technique to position yourself for success. The Change Agent Contract Worksheet provides a framework for clarifying roles and expectations in change. Use this contract template to guide a conversation with your change sponsor or leaders and clarify expectations for your role. Given the often ambiguous nature of change, this is a critical step to ensuring that each contributor is set up for success.

Protecting Yourself from Risk

In order to mitigate against the risks inherent in transformation, follow these three golden rules for Change Agents.

  • You cannot work harder or care more than the change sponsor. Only the change sponsor can create the conditions for change success because it requires authority and legitimacy. That role cannot be delegated to a change agent, however enthusiastic or capable that person may be. Be alert to this dynamic and ensure that you are set up for success. Your role is in service to the change sponsor. Your function is to support the sponsor, not to replace that role or compensate for gaps in leadership.
  • Do not take bad business. Bad business occurs when sponsors do not effectively follow-through on the requirements to provide leadership and address the political, logistical or resource challenges facing the initiative. This leaves change agents vulnerable to a mission impossible situation, as change failure is certain. In such a situation, you must raise concerns about sponsorship and renegotiate the parameters of your expected role
  • Manage your energy, not just your time. Working on change is particularly demanding and exhausting. You are very much building the plane while flying it. Consider strategies for how you can manage your energy – seeking opportunities that fill you with positive vibes, and mitigating against situations that are draining.

For a sneak peak at other tools in the Change Agent’s Toolkit, have a look at the Table of Contents. 

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