Change can have big impacts on an organization’s performance – and employees are experiencing changes in the workplace at an increasing rate. According to Gartner, on average, employees now experience three major changes each year, compared to 1.75 in 2012. What is more, Gartner also shares that change-stressed employees perform 5% worse than the average employee.
The use of change champions to bring people more quickly and steadily through challenging change processes can be a force multiplier in getting people to understand, support, and embrace organizational change while maintaining continuity of operations. At The Clearing, we frequently engage groups of change champions within our clients’ organizations as ambassadors for the change that leadership is implementing. Change champions are often a critical link between the front line workforce and leaders for information sharing and discussions.
WHAT IS A CHANGE CHAMPION?
A change champion is someone who is an “early adopter” and advocates for change who volunteers or is nominated to facilitate change during a transformation. Change champions across the organization are called to support the change process, prepare for specific changes, and coordinate stakeholder engagement, questions, and concerns
5 CRITERIA FOR SUCCESSFUL CHANGE CHAMPIONS
- Able and willing to be a spokesperson and promoter of the transformation process
- Works successfully as a guide in planning for and navigating the transformation process by proactively partnering with the management team and those leading change efforts.
- Shares messaging and information effectively to keep the workforce focused on the end goals, even when times are tough
- Provides iterative feedback to leadership for clarifications about the change process, challenges or concerns among the workforce, and resource needs
- Collaborates with peers, leadership and other change champions to share ideas and lessons learned from the change journey
WHERE TO BEGIN?
To make a Change Champions cohort a successful mechanism to promote workplace change, consider the following as you establish and manage the group:
- Get management buy-in on the concept of change champions and get alignment on membership criteria, membership structure, and level of effort
- Recruit, charter, and train the change champions group to ensure they understand their role and stay “on message”
- Debrief with the group routinely to share updates, enlist their support on key initiatives, and understand the “buzz” they’re hearing from the workforce
- Finally, remember to acknowledge change champions for their contributions – as this will compel people to want to get involved in your next change initiative!
Rebecca Gaynor is a Senior Principal at The Clearing specializing in strategic communication and change management for technology, organizational, and workplace change.