In previous and perhaps more stable eras, transformation in business was not that important, or seemingly so. The name of the game was securing a strong market position and retaining it. As John P Kotter notes in “The Heart of Change”, this philosophy underpinning business security was “build a big moat around a castle, keep the moat repaired, keep the army trained, and stay put.” Our world is no longer in this era, however, as the rate of change has increased tenfold. Someone in a company needs to understand change principles and provide leadership in using them well. As the rate of change increases still more, one or two ‘ someones’ are no longer enough. More employees must appreciate the need for bigger leaps and what is required to take these leaps successfully. As the rate of change increases exponentially, so does the need for more change-adept people.
Kotter insightfully notes: “In a turbulent world, the requirement for change is ongoing. Imagine needing to keep urgency up and complacency, fear, and anger down all the time and throughout the organisation. Imagine needing to have groups guiding change efforts all the time and throughout the enterprise. Imagine the demand to develop visions and strategies for all the changes, to communicate volumes of information to everyone, to keep batting obstacles out of the way throughout the organisation. To succeed in that world, how many people in an enterprise must see change as part of their jobs? How many of us must understand change well enough to help with the waves of new product lines, mergers, reorganisations, the e-world, process reengineering, or leaps of any kind? How many of us need some minimum capability in addition to analysis-think-act tactics? Reasonable people can argue about what these numbers should be, but the figures surely are very large. Most organisations have less than half of what they need today, and many enterprises have only a fraction.”
Change champions, selected from volunteers or those in key-critical positions in an organisation and from any level in the structure, are trained and empowered to encourage change-thinking, give direction to change goals, and energise adoption to the change initiatives. It is their responsibility to:
- Set an example of the required change behaviour
- Empathise with the pain and resistance associated with change
- Give clear direction on the way ahead and discuss the ‘why’ (purpose) of the intended change passionately
- Remove obstacles that could impede change progress
- Facilitate conversations to clear up ambiguity and quell rumours
- Challenge myopic thinking sensitively and guide people to new paradigms
- Reinforce good change behaviour through appropriate recognition
- Highlight quick wins and demonstrate the benefits to the organisation
- Ensure that people/team behaviour is always aligned to the organisation’s values
Change champions enable ‘leadership’ to appear and blossom amongst employees no matter their respective levels, knowing that one can act with leadership as an administrator or a cleaner. Change champions acknowledge all acts of courage to change and build upon any attempts. They assist people in learning from mistakes and encourage further effort. Change champions accelerate change dialogue and suggest fresh approaches to complex issues. Change champions have the emotional intelligence to understand and manage change emotions through creating safe environments for employees to share their frustrations. Change champions demonstrate care.
Change champions provide change leadership. They accelerate the rate of change and assist the organisation with relevant initiatives towards growth, increase in market share and buy-in from all employees. Change champions help companies take the change leap well.
Free To Grow assists organisations with equipping change champions with tools, skills and understanding to fulfil their important role. For more information — firstname.lastname@example.org