We are the champions!
Technology change isn’t just about giving employees new devices and apps, it’s about getting them to engrain the technology into their everyday way of working. And, that requires cultural change and rewiring everyone’s mindset.
So, what’s the most effective way to do this? By investing time in creating a viral effect of cultural change through the support of a ‘champions’ network’. If you empower champions, they’ll do the work for you.
Here’s some answers to questions we’re asked by clients about champions’ networks.
What does a ‘champion’ look like?
A champion is someone who oozes passion; and we’re not just talking about the positive kind. We were working with a client on a Microsoft Office 365 programme, when we experienced considerable hostility by the leader of an internal workers’ council who thought we’d dictate how they should change governance policies. It turned out they were terribly worried that Office 365 would create security breaches. We reassured them we needed their help and having been voted in by the workers’ council they had credibility and influence. This person became a great advocate and champion by working with them.
In short, a champion must be passionate (positively or negatively!), care and importantly have influence.
What is a change champion and what skills should they have?
A change champion is not an expert in change management but is there to help support the change effort and ensure colleagues adapt to and adopt new ways of working. For the champions’ network to be a success it must include champions with a diverse range of skills. There should be a mix of employees ranging from technical and early adopters to those who will be frequent users, have influence and trust within their own network, thrive on trying out new ways, are company champions, or have the soft skills to help with adoption.
We work closely with Stellar Learning who impart the importance of understanding people, so you can create sticky messages that people get, remember and act on. Regardless of a champions’ skill set, with support they must be able to deliver the message you give them and help make it stick.
How do you identify champions?
Champions should be identified as early on as possible, not only so they are part of the journey, but because some may be resistant, and you’ll need time to turn them into advocates. Plus, it takes time to get champions up to speed. Significantly, champions must have a position of influence and be nominated by a management team. Acceptance and recognition is a fundamental human need!
Tell management teams what you’re up to, give them an overview of attributes/skills you’re looking for, and ask them to nominate people. Also, a volunteer versus a voluntold approach is more successful, so the champion must be willing.
Why do you need a champions’ network?
It takes a lot of work to get employees to adopt to change so you need help. This is what the champions’ network is for – equip them with the skills, give them a message and ask them to spread the word. If you set up your champions’ network correctly your message should go viral. Our human nature is to listen and learn from those people who we admire or respect and can show us a better way of doing things that improves our life.
What should a champions’ responsibilities be?
Champions should attend relevant project meetings, so they understand the plan and the impact of change. They should participate in focus group sessions to prepare for testing and training and be the first to attend training courses, so they are evangelists of the new system and can give suggestions as to what training their colleagues might need. Champions should be the messenger of your communications and provide ongoing support to colleagues and new joiners.
How do you keep champions on side?
It’s not just about lip service, so it’s best to recognise, incentivise and reward them. Give champions responsibility, acknowledge that they’re doing a great job and give them early insight into what’s happening, so they know you need them to make the project a success. Importantly, officially launch the champions network and talk about it through your company communications channels so everyone knows it’s a real deal.