The Phases of Change – From #PR Change Thinker to True Change Agent
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post “Public Relations Expanded: Eight New Social Roles Assigned.” The piece highlighted some new areas or functions in PR, where the professional can shine, from the PR Policymaker and Internal Communication Collaborator to the Pre-Crisis Doctor and Master of the Metrics. However, in order to take on new challenges, change must take place. It has to come from within first, and then filter through to your role in the organization.
It was hard to find an exact statistic on how many people actually fear change, whether personally or professionally. However, based on hundreds of articles, I can see how change affects people in various ways, and how they move forward differently to initiate it. You may have do go through several phases of change before you can become what I call a “True Change Agent” and assume a new function in your organization. Okay, maybe some people just wake up and say, “I’m going to change the world today.” But, there are also those folks that take baby steps to get to change, and that’s just fine too.
I’ve put together a Change Scale so that you can look at where you fall on the scale. We all have to start somewhere to evaluate how to move through the different phases in order to reach the top goal, which is change agent status. I also believe that if you are prone to accept change in your personal life, then it may reflect how you handle change in your work environment. I hope you’re able to see yourself rising to new levels on the Change Scale. Of course if you’re already a True Change Agent, then keep up the good work!
Phase One – Change Thinker and Visualizer: You can see what needs to be done, how the change would benefit your team and/or your company’s communication and you think about the many things that you would do to institute a change (even going as a far as putting together a list). Not only do you know exactly what the change will accomplish, but you’re also visualizing the pros and cons of the change, thinking about how it would affect the people around you and the process in your organization. At this phase you are not quite ready to talk about the change. However, you know that a transformation is inevitable.
Phase Two – Change Talker and Motivator: You begin to verbalize how you feel about certain changes within your own area of expertise. You are letting your confidants (those who work closely with you) know that you think there are better ways to approach a communications challenge or to solve a problem at hand. You are opening your mouth, and not letting an opportunity to speak your mind, pass you by. At this phase you are happy to be expressing your ideas for communications change, but not quite putting your good sense into action. However, you’re rallying others to find potential change agents when the time is right.
Phase Three – Simple Change Activator: You are ready to take a few baby steps toward change. This is the decision to crawl, walk and then run, knowing that you may scare a few folks or find some naysayers along the way. However, any negative forces that come into play don’t stop you from finding smaller ways to show how change will work and to help others visualize the benefits. At this phase you believe in the transformation and you are finding others around you who are willing to take baby steps too, for the sake of a better communication. With the help of a few other individuals you are taking steps to reach more long- term goals.
Phase Four – Complex Change Activator: You are ready to take on the big communication change challenges, and you know that there will be several obstacles in your way. However, you’re willing to show that there is a tremendous urgency for the change, you’ll work tirelessly on the vision and strategy, you’ll build a strong coalition to move mountains in your organization and you want to communicate with everyone regarding the overall change process. At this phase you’re not only looking for small wins, but also focused on the big change goals. The folks who join your team are hungry for big change as well.
Phase Five – The True Change Agent: You have left all of your fear of change behind. At this phase, you’re teaching others how to move through the phases of change personally as well as how to apply the same principles to their professional development. Being a True Change Agent means that you are a champion and influencer. Your research, constant communication and continuous change progress show that you have a solid track record. Those members of the organization who are following your lead are also strong proponents of change. Together, you will move from function to function and you will revamp, reinvent and innovate communications for your company.
Believing in change, rallying for support and implementing a transformation can be one of the scariest, yet rewarding experiences. Where are you on the Change Scale and how have you applied your ability to focus and implement change in your organization?