Friday, September 23, 2011

Question Your Change Agent Before You Hire Them

Change agents come in many different guises. Some are sales leaders you hire to turn around revenue, some are executives you hire to turn around businesses and some are even specialized change management consultants you hire to make change happen.

In this Harvard Business Review article, Maryanne Peabody and Larry Stybel talk about how to avoid hiring a jerk!

They say every organizational change can be viewed as encompassing three areas: the things that need to change, the things that need to be preserved and the things that can't be touched at any cost. Peabody and Stybel's article is written from the perspective of the applicant for a change agent position. It suggests you take what you have learned from your research and the interview process and provide a draft of what you think falls into the three groups for your interviewers. If your thoughts are good, they can tell you are not a jerk and they can make a judgement about how you might fit in with the organization.

We would take the process a step further. If you're hiring a change agent, you want to know two things:  can they do the job and will they do the job the way you want. Let's assume you have done your due diligence and you are confident they can do the job. Ask them to give you their views on what needs to change, what needs to be preserved and what shouldn't be touched at any cost. It will give you great insight into how they will do the job if you hire them and whether their views will single them out as successful change agents or jerks.

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