Influencer marketing, in which focus is placed on specific key individuals rather than the target market as a whole, has shown the business world how brands and companies can shape the opinions and behaviors of the masses with the help of the right person/people. Change management professionals have long realized that this approach can be applied successfully in organizational settings as well, and thus have been using so called ‘change agents’ to aid their internal development plans. What they have been struggling with, however, is finding the right people for the roles of change agents.
Definition of change agents
Change agents - or as we prefer to call them at OrgMapper: influencers, because based on their profiles they can be deployed for various other organizational initiatives besides change - are those respected and trusted individuals within a community who have the ability to be a compelling force on the actions, opinions and behaviors of others.
Misconception: appointed or volunteer change agents will succeed at driving your vision
How can one be an influencer?
Based on the very meaning of the word, one simply cannot volunteer to be or be appointed an influencer, one can only be deemed or “elected” by their peers and community as such.
Appointed vs. Identified
When influencers are being appointed, the most common practice is the delegation of the role to those closest and most visible to management. Some of these employees might indeed be influential; however, more often than not, true influencers, e.g. your quiet subject matter experts discreetly sharing knowledge and information in the background, get overlooked. Influencers are everywhere in an organization; they can be found in every hierarchy-level, business unit, location, etc. It is not always the most visible ones, who can shape the opinions of others.
In addition, management-appointed change agents might feel that their new role is just another task, a burden, and not an honorable challenge they would like to take on. On the other hand, peer-elected influencers are likely to be more motivated and committed, as they will feel the support of their colleagues. Furthermore, your employees will also be more likely to listen to influencers elected by the community as opposed to ones appointed by management. All in all, this process is not only more likely to succeed in the long-run, but it is also more democratic for both influencers and employees.
Elect, engage and empower your influencers
Involve your whole organization in the election process. Working with the “voice of the people”, their true representatives, will help minimize employee resistance, and therefore accelerate your change initiatives, facilitate business transformation programs, support internal communication efforts, or simply boost employee engagement.
OrgMapper | INFLUENCE is an online organizational diagnostic tool that identifies your most motivated and capable employees to best advocate your vision.
For more information on influencer identification, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
András Vicsek is a work and organizational psychologist, and is responsible for research and product development at Maven7, the company behind OrgMapper. He is a management consultant and a trainer specialized in social and organizational network analysis.