The top tips for using champions to drive C.H.A.N.G.E.S. within your organisation.
At Freeformers we have extensive experience in creating change within organisations using a network of internal champions. Over the past few years, we have perfected the recipe for success and developed proprietary technology to supercharge champions. Here are the 7 things we do to ensure the change programmes we run are effective and have maximum impact.
Whether the role and responsibility of internal comms sit outside your team or not, this part is so easy to overlook and to get wrong. There are a few common mistakes ranging from the chosen delivery method to the frequency and the context of the communications. All three need to be considered to drive engagement with a programme at the outset and support the ongoing change.
Consider the delivery method and the frequency of communications. Think of the last time (outside of work) a single email, from a single company, inspired you to action. It probably never has. Modern methods of communication with an audience are delivered over several platforms and several times before engagement and action are achieved. The corporate model of posting something on an Intranet site or sending one ‘must read’ email no longer works. To be honest it probably never has. Communication strategies need multiple touch points and need to be delivered in a variety of ways.
The context of communications is also really important. People aren’t likely to change if there is not a net benefit for them as an individual. Particularly in large organisations, very few people are going to change simply because the business wants them to. In a world where restructures and redundancies are an annual occurrence, the need to be adaptable in the world of work is something everyone will need to get used to. Role and responsibilities will continually evolve, and so must employees.
To nudge behaviour it takes time. A single video, a single piece of eLearning or even a workshop are not enough to change the way someone thinks or acts. Therefore the very best use of champions is to build them into business as usual activity, not a one-off programme. This way, a workforce can begin to learn to adapt on a regular basis, making them ready for a world of work that needs to be used to constant change.
The most common issue we find with internal champions is them having the time to deliver sessions with their colleagues, and in turn for their colleagues to attend the sessions. It’s important to set the expectation that this is a new habit that needs to be formed, rather than advertising it as a one-off programme. Only by creating a habit out of change, will any programme have results. And once you have established a champion network, any new learning objectives and communications can tap straight into the network.
Choosing the right people to be champions is important, and it’s not just finding people with the ability to host experiences. The role of a champion requires each one to be as adaptable as the change programme itself, but they also need to have the social currency to have an impact. Having great facilitation skills helps, but we believe this can be supported and improved over time. Increasing someone’s social currency within an organization is much, much harder to do.
It’s also worth considering what makes a bad champion. Do they have the respect of their peers? Are colleagues only going to listen to because they are in a position of power? Is their participation built on self-interest? Asking yourself these questions about the champions you are going to invest in is just as important as finding the stronger attributes in the champions you appoint.
Organisations typically create multiple champions, and there is enormous value in creating the right conditions for that network to learn and support each other. Creating a safe space, either online or offline, will give those champions who are having the most impact to support those who are struggling. We’ve found that creating a group on an internal social network is enough to stimulate a conversation between your chosen champions. Whilst this may seem like one simple element of using champions, time and effort need to be given to creating a community of practice.
Often, champions are provided with content to deliver to their peers either via a workbook or a printed set of facilitators notes. Whilst this is great for the champion, it doesn’t really help anyone assess the impact the champions are having. Using technology to support your champions gives them the ability to reflect on their impact and management to understand how much activity is going on as part of a programme. It is useful to track the numbers on how many sessions have been delivered, when and where, but the true measure of a programme is having an impact on the intended audience.
Currently, there is no standard way of assessing how people operate at work and therefore no telling if this has changed. The key here is to have frequent and consistent capture of data against a standard set of metrics. Doing this at scale, over a period of time, will help you understand your people and the impact your champions (or any other business activity for that matter) are having. Increasing the scale, increasing the frequency and increasing the time of your data capture will give you employee insights that will be the envy of many large organisations.
Freeformers have our own proprietary measurement platform and set of benchmark data comprised from over 2m data points. This means we can immediately benchmark your organisation, and track the change and impact of our interventions. This means we have a single, consistent data set, to which every new partner both adds value and draws insights from.
Working with Freeformers means your champions can host experiences that have already been tested and implemented to drive change across other large organisations. Many businesses are facing exactly the same issues, so our library of learning experiences offer the opportunity to buy in best practice.
The Freeformers App means the organisation have sight of exactly what your champions are delivering, to ensure consistency, and track its effectiveness. It is also possible to test the experiences with a pilot programme, such as running A/B testing to fine tune the experiences and deliver serious impact.
We’ve found that creating a community manager accelerates the effectiveness and engagement of a network of champions or a community of practice. Putting a community manager in place gets the community up to speed, fast. The trick is also to phase a community manager over several weeks till the community is able to sustain itself. This can not be done by accident, it requires considered design and interaction to work. We’ve spent the past 12 months honing our approach to community management, using our experienced network of coaches who have the necessary skills and experience to support champions with their role of driving change.
Freeformers’ platform creates consistent and measurable learning cultures using champion networks, with content that tackles specific objectives.
If you want to learn more about Freeformers and how we can either create a network of new champions or supercharge an existing network, get in touch with us today to help drive C.H.A.N.G.E.S. in within your organisation.
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