We are all Change Champions

March 11, 2014 Appirio

champion

By Amy Rollier and Dawn Moore

If change is the process of becoming something different, then what makes a Change Champion? When major change happens, most of us are probably just relieved that we made it through the change. That we came out on the other side mostly unscathed and hopefully better off. A Change Champion, goes through a change purposefully and mindfully. They have a vision of where they are going and despite the challenges, they never give up.

Take professional surfer Bethany Hamilton, for example.  Raised by surfers, Bethany spent most of her life in the water mastering her surfing style. After a near deadly shark attack that took her arm, she was back on her surfboard only one month later with a determined spirit and a positive attitude. Two years later she competed and won first place. Bethany knew one way of surfing her whole life but after her accident, she had to adapt her style to remain competitive.  She made a purposeful decision to change despite the challenges and difficulties she was faced with along the way.

change championsYour organization is filled with Change Champions like Bethany. People who, regardless of level or role, will advocate for a change initiative, support their peers and provide constructive feedback to senior management and leadership.

Often when we begin engaging in transformational change work with our clients, we find during the discovery process that many of their employees have never experienced a change of similar magnitude before. Technology implementations often change the way employees work, redefine their roles and the way their performance is evaluated by both their customers and the organization. It can be a very disruptive and uncertain time.

We have found that the majority of people are on board with the change and are aware of the need for it. Yet despite best efforts to manage the change, people respond differently to having their worlds turned upside down. Typically everyone in the organization will experience the impact of the change to some degree, therefore everyone plays a role in the change process. Whether they resist or advocate for the change, change will come and its success relies heavily in the strength of an organization’s Change Champions.

So the next logical question is, “Can I create Change Champions or will they just rise out of the rubble?”

Championing change begins with having a change mindset. This can mean something different to each organization.

  1. The first step is to define what having a change mindset (and being a change champion) means to your organization – or what you want it to mean.

  2. The next step is getting the word out. Where many companies fall short, is thinking of their Change Champions as a separate group within the organization.  Certainly the direct project team plays a critical role in championing change. In addition, a designated change Advocacy Group is also highly valuable. That said, everyone within the organization is impacted by the change to some degree and thereby plays a role in championing that change. Avoid limiting your communications about how to be a good change champion to just your core project and change team.

You may be asking, “What do I communicate to my employees about having a change mindset?” At Appirio, we establish a change mindset through the following framework: Readiness, Awareness, Engagement and Sustainment. Using this framework, we have developed a list of questions employees should ask themselves in preparation for their role as a Change Champion:

Readiness for the change

  • Do I know the project vision and organizational reason for the change?

  • Am I ready? Is my department ready? What can we do to get ready?

  • Can I help with planning activities or provide expertise?

  • Do I understand the need for change and the consequences of not changing? If not, ask questions!

Awareness of the change and its impact

  • Do I understand what’s happening… not just rumors

  • Am I seeking out information and asking questions?

  • Am I building awareness and advocating the change?

  • Am I supporting my team/peers and building commitment?

Engagement throughout the change process

  • Am I staying engaged throughout the project?

  • Am I involving key Owners and/or Sponsors when needed?

  • Am I helping others stay focused and motivated?

  • How will my team react to change and how can I engage them?

  • Am I helping to understand and manage resistance?

Sustainment efforts that go beyond go-live to encourage adoption and best practice

  • How can I help with momentum after the change?

  • Am I utilizing feedback mechanisms?

  • Am I sharing information and contributing to best practices?

  • Am I seeking out support?

Wading through the waters of change can be difficult but not impossible. When you engage your Change Champions early with the tools to effectively communicate and remove barriers, they will become more than Change Champions.

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