Emotional resilience for change managers and change agents

Date: 13/12/2022| Category: Change Management|

What is emotional resilience? Why is it so important in agile environments, especially for change managers and change agents?

What is emotional resilience?

The first thing to define is the concept of resilience:
Resilience is defined on Treccani as the ability to react in the face of trauma and difficulties.

Emotional resilience is a fundamental skill that underpins all communication by the change agent and the change manager.

Emotional resilience means the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and to be able to return to the state of nature when faced with difficulties.

Why is this emotional intelligence so important in a company? Because it enables one to work with others in a highly effective manner, resulting in individual, team and organisational success. Today it is said that emotional competencies are twice as important as pure intellect and experience to be successful.

Why is emotional resilience important, especially for change agents and change managers?

Who are change agents and change managers and why do they need to be able to manage situations through emotional resilience?

The change agent is the person who facilitates, coordinates and manages change management initiatives. He is not in charge of the strategy but encourages its adoption. His know-how helps both managers and employees. He/she may be a manager, department head, team leader or even a resource of the organisation without formal authority, such as individual employees with a certain seniority, long experience or strong interpersonal influence.

The change manager, on the other hand, is the person who actively deals with change in the company: his task is to plan, accompany, monitor and optimise transformation processes on an ongoing basis. He advises executives and top management on organisational change and development.
He has an overview of the entire change process, is able to assess even complex situations and understands how to reach people in the company, from managerial roles to employees. He designs communication in the change process so that important information is communicated at the right time and in the best way. He is also able to withstand strong pressures and emotionally charged situations.
Change management can be entrusted to an internal or external consultant and often also to managers.

In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) corporate world, companies of all sizes can be found: large, medium and small; it is in this environment that change must be embraced in order to best overcome challenges.

In today’s business world, things are changing faster and faster, more and more new companies are appearing, and in order to remain relevant in this environment, companies need to be able to adapt to change. The ability to recover quickly from difficulties (resilience) lies precisely in this concept: change and being able to adapt in the face of new challenges!

When thinking about change, the tendency will be to see it as something negative because of the fear of the impact with the new. It will therefore take courage to make the advantage of change known. This is because the reaction and responses to change will be emotional.

Change threatens established patterns of behaviour with which we are comfortable. What unites all those who successfully cope with change is emotional resilience. In the corporate context, leadership plays an important role in fostering organisational resilience, and this task can be performed by the leader on the one hand or by the change agent on the other.

In these situations, the role of the change manager or change agent will be to react positively and be prepared for the change in which one is involved. Look for the opportunities that the change will bring, the potential benefits and improvements that can be achieved. The change manager must be a leader with good emotional intelligence who can quickly recover from adverse situations, easily returning to his or her ‘normal’ self. The demonstration of his resilience is an example for those around him to influence the management of adverse situations.
The change agent, on the other hand, will be the one dedicated to guiding the company and its team to overcome difficulties in order to grow.

Methods to simplify our thinking

There are various ways to solve a business change. Checklists are drawn up to eliminate the barrier of uncertainty, so that everything is ready. Then one asks the question: ‘Have we done everything we should have done? Is there anything else we need to do? Repetition helps to fortify certain ideas. Checklists help with this kind of repetition. Lists can also be written differently, recognising each step that needs to be taken. Using mind-maps can be a further help. Planning helps people to cope better with a change, to incorporate it into their daily routine: it is easier to remember to do a new task if it is part of an existing one, but how?

  • By tracing current working patterns
  • By finding a transition point, an activity that comes before the new one. Finding a transition point, an activity that comes before the new one and can act as an anchor point
  • By linking the periodicity (frequency) of the starting task with your new task, then trying to find the frequency at the end point.

How to train resilience to change?

The questions a change management practitioner must ask are: how can we guide people through change? Can we reduce the resilience required?

Another way to develop resilience is to prepare oneself to become a true change agent. This is a broad field of knowledge and there are many ways and methods to work with change. The fundamental skill must be to influence colleagues in a positive way to persuade them to participate in such change. This can only happen if there is a basis of empathy in the group where such change is taking place. Ordering people to work differently will not achieve the objectives, because even if colleagues comply with your requests, they will not have accepted the approach and will try to return to their old ways of working at the first good opportunity.

Therefore, points of view must be understood and plans must be shared with everyone involved.

Mélanie Franklin, in her webinar Resilience Powers Change, suggests an empathic approach through: motivation, trust, empathy and influence.


Supporting others through change is a great commitment of motivation, enthusiasm and effort over an extended period of time. There must be a drive, something that triggers the will to make this effort and to sustain it over time. It is necessary for others to trust the person proposing such change.


Trust has a direct impact on the speed with which change can take place. If there is trust, the person being asked to change will more readily accept what is asked of them. If there is no trust, he is likely to ignore the change for as long as possible.
If he decides to change, his reluctance may cause him to identify, research and evaluate all possible options available to him.

With this in mind, it is counterproductive to rush into change without taking the time to create a favourable environment.

Trust is a complex set of circumstances and emotions, but there are some common factors that favour its development:

  • Reliability: doing what you are told to do, when you are told to do it
  • Clarity: being clear about one’s values and positions
  • Openness: being willing to share information and where it comes from
  • Consistency: making sure there is consistency between how you ask others to behave and how you yourself behave
  • Curiosity: showing genuine interest in other people


Empathy means recognising and sharing the emotions of another person.
As a change agent one has to understand how people feel about change, so that we can adapt our response. If change frightens, it is advisable to simplify, demystify and make it easier.

Elements that could create problems are:

  • Feeling that the new status is different
  • Reduced sense of autonomy in work
  • Uselessness in the new role
  • Sense of loss because one no longer works with the same people as before with whom one had established a bond of trust
  • New knowledge because one learns new things can lead to mistakes and failures


To be an influential person, it is very important to understand one’s sphere of influence. Who can one influence? The people in the middle, those who help get the job done.

Then consider whether there are other people who make decisions about the work or who set the rules for completing the work. Assess against these influencing factors:

  • Technical knowledge of the process and systems to be changed
  • Previous experience
  • Leadership
  • Extensive experience in the area of work to be changed
  • Relationship expert

Influencing involves presenting a point of view on change that is not currently shared by those one is trying to influence. Acknowledge the position of the person you are trying to influence by not expecting them to take too big of a step forward.


The future of work belongs to those who can help their organisations develop new products and services, build new relationships with customers and suppliers. Leading change, at whatever level or in whatever role you are at the time, is a fundamental skill and requires a lot of practice. To enable this change, emotional resilience is fundamental and necessary. It will facilitate the building of a network of colleagues and stakeholders to be able to realise an experience that is mirrored in every aspect by the person involved in that particular role at that particular time.

Also read:
Change Management meets Communication – interview with Chiara Badini
Change Management vs. Agile Change Agent

QRP International offers Change Management courses as well as courses in Agile Change. Feel free to write to us if you would like to have more information!

Share this post, choose Your platform!


Subscribe to the QRP International neswletter and get all the news on trends, useful contents and invitations to our upcoming events.

QRP International will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you. We'd like to continue keeping you up-to-date with all our latest news and exclusive content that's designed to help you to be more effective in your role, and keep your professional skills current.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at marketing@qrpinternational.com. We will treat your information with respect. For more information about our privacy practices please visit our website. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.