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Have you ever considered what lies at the heart of most positive change management outcomes inside organisations? You may be surprised to discover that the answer is less of a what and more of a who – the Champion.
Picture it: your organization is about to implement a new system and your team’s hopes are high. Since your team have researched, prepared and considered every aspect of this implementation, everyone expects to be amazed by the results.
Unfortunately, this enthusiasm often doesn’t translate to success. In other words, as timelines are missed and products or services do not live up to expectations, the best hope to turn things around lies with the Champion.
As true advocates and gatekeepers, let’s take a look at how Champions play a pivotal role in whether a project is a heroic success or a dismal failure.
What is a Champion?
Champions are individuals within an organization that are selected or volunteer to facilitate change. In doing so, a Champion will need to be an active and engaged member of the change management project during all of its stages. Most importantly, Champions play a leading role in both planning and keeping the project on course.
When considering seniority, it’s helpful to know that Champions can come from within any level of an organization. Furthermore, having Champions from multiple levels can be very beneficial as the diversity experience often bolsters efforts.
Unlike Champions, users are not involved with the planning or implementation of the new system. An additional key difference is that Champions work alongside change management consultants to support the team and drive adoption of the new system.
Finally, for a successful outcome of organizational change to happen, Champions needs to believe in the change and be driven by its vision. In other words, Champions must work hard to minimise conflict, problem-solve to remove barriers and creating support inside the team. In doing so, Champions promotes new ideas while supporting their colleagues.
A Recipe for success
Let’s take a look at some of the key attributes a Champion needs to be successful in their role and truly be a motivator for change.
Firstly, a Champion needs to be able to communicate effectively. This includes being skilled in networking and conflict resolution. In other words, communication between the team and the change management consultant should be as smooth as possible to ensure a successful process.
However, there is more to the role of Champion than having good communication skills. It is essential that Champions understand and project the value of the tool as well. If a Champion lacks interest or does not care in the tool that enables these changes, the project and change management is doomed to fail.
Thirdly, Champions need to develop skills which allow them to identify opportunities that enable the team. Additionally, having a strong background in the nature of the business often proves beneficial as this experience guides Champions to come up with practical solutions. Yet, Champions need to know they are not alone and can rely on their change management consultant to help. Working closely and trusting in the consultant’s experience is a sure way to success.
Lastly, a Champion needs to understand that they lead by example. If a Champion does not persevere with the change project to completion while demonstrating progress, this behaviour will likely demoralize the team and be detrimental to change management efforts.
Common challenges facing Champions
Understanding the individual barriers and change challenges that change Champions can expect to face will lead to success. For inexperienced change Champions, getting to grips and understanding blockages quickly will allow for solutions to break down these barriers.
A very common challenge facing both new and experienced Champions is underestimating the complexity of changing systems. As old habits die hard, there’s a very high chance that Champions will be challenged to get their team to adopt the new systems. Before attempting to do anything, successful Champions should be patient and listen to the concerns brought forward by their team members. Once the consultations are done, the users, Champions and their consultants can start resolving the users’ concerns.
Similarly, time constraints can also become a pitfall. Varying work schedules, creeping project deadlines and other responsibilities should to be taken into consideration during change management. Champions should be mindful that they will need to manage not only their own adoption, assignments and change efforts but also that of the team as well.
Becoming a Champion for Change
Fundamentally, Champions fill the organisational need for internal change support required for the successful adoption of a new system or tool.
Let’s face it, they are called Champions because they play a pivotal role in change management efforts by remaining consistent about the expectations that are set for themselves and the users.
Struggling to drive your new software’s adoption? Wanting to know how our Change Management services can help? Contact Alexandra Colonel or Michael Blakely to discover how our new Health Check and Adoption Review packages can help you rethink the way your organisation works.