The Power of Change Agency

Whether you call it change, reform, or transformation we are all wanting to make a positive difference in the healthcare system. The School for Change Agents through the Horizons improvement organization of the National Health Service in the United Kingdom made the following distinction between change agency and change agent:

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If the purpose of change is to make things better for everyone with the intended consequence being joy in work, then how does one activate people's agency, a team's ability to act with purpose, and reach their full potential within their job? Basically, how does one mobilize others?

At Infinitum we believe there are three key areas:

1. Safe Space:

The work environment needs to be a place where people not only feel heard, but are heard. They need to know that they can trust their team and leadership to respect and value their ideas. They need to be asked what matters to them to understand the intrinsic motivation of the team. This is the only way to truly engage everyone into the work design improvement process. Finally, processes and not people need to be judged.

2. Feedback:

There will be both positive and negative feedback that will be used to make adjustments, but the team focus should be on the positive. Most people have been trained to focus on what's broken and fix it, but a focus on what's working and how to expand on that is just as valuable. Between team members and the team and leadership there should be a conversation about what's the best way to communicate to get answers and ask questions; how will communications outside the team be gathered and analyzed such as surveys and unrequested feedback; and the creation of public appreciation such as a "Bright Spot" board to display positive actions and behavior of the frontline staff as encouragement.

3. Team Democracy:

A self-governing team will be more accountable and innovative than a traditional team. This is not to say that there will not be leadership, but rather everyone is involved in the decision-making and co-design changes. By giving team members a say in improvement ideas they are more engaged. Expectations and timelines are agreed upon as a team rather than being told what to do. The team agrees among themselves who will do what and when as they already know the why as the frontline staff or the people actually doing the work.

In the end, when a team is given change agency there is a change in culture where it is safe to communicate honestly, feedback is valued, and team democracy is built on mutual respect.

Please contact us if you'd like to hold a workshop on this topic!