Champions of Change
To keep your company on the cutting edge, you have to incorporate new tools and realign your processes with the technology available. But software adoption is a challenge—whether you’re trying to implement widespread adoption of Microsoft 365 or a single platform, like Teams.
Microsoft’s Karuana Gatimu defined a champion as “A person who is interested in technology to help themselves and others achieve their goals. Someone who is willing to invest in learning skills to make this happen, often on their own time."
Although champions exist naturally in any company, there’s value in organizing them into a formal program as part of your software adoption strategy. An official champions program allows you to maximize their skills, provide them with helpful resources, and give them opportunities to provide feedback.
But where to start?
Building Your Champions Program
1. Search for Candidates
First, compile a list of possible change agents. However you choose to go about this, you need to be able to recognize and articulate champion qualities.
Foremost, champions should welcome questions and feedback. They should be comfortable answering basic questions about the software at hand and familiar enough with the technology to provide demos of basic features. For that reason, it’s helpful if they’re strong communicators.
While champions should be knowledgeable, they don’t have to be experts—but they should at least be able to point curious coworkers to helpful learning resources like QuickHelp and the Microsoft Tech Community.
Lastly, champions are visible within their team or the company and influential among their peers. It’s also helpful if they’re patient with pessimists or doubters and optimistic about change. And, of course, their passion for new tech and being a champion can go a long way.
Pro tip: Coordinate with managers or team leads to identify potential champions on their teams.
Once you’ve identified people who generally exhibit these qualities, you’re ready for step number 2.
2. Invite Candidates to Learn More
Now, make contact with your potential champions and pull them in. Send them an overview email, inviting them to a meeting to learn more about becoming a software adoption champion.
Pro tip: Have someone who’s respected and trusted send out the email—it adds more credibility to the message and the whole program.
Give your candidates a quick overview of what a champion is, highlighting the perks of becoming a champion. These benefits could include the opportunity to build a circle of influence, upskill and grow professionally, and make their own job easier. When people work more efficiently, everyone benefits!
When you’ve got a list of willing participants, gather them together for the pitch.
3. Fill In the Candidates
Once everyone’s assembled, introduce your change advocates to the technology and your company’s adoption goals. Make sure candidates understand what this software can do for them and their teams and how champions can help with these goals.
Then transition into the champions’ responsibilities. New idea champions should:
- Actively participate in the change
- Informally teach their teams how to integrate the new software into their work
- Help build other champions through coaching
- Provide feedback to the project team regarding user engagement and adoption.
Pro tip: Emphasize that champions don’t have to be experts to be effective. Offer an overview of some of the resources they can reference—such as QuickHelp or the IT team—when faced with difficult questions.
If your recruits are still on board, get a commitment from them and send them out!
4. Mobilize and Support Your Champions
Now that your champions are committed and up to date, send them out and let them do their thing. As a project manager, try not to be too overbearing—remember, this is a more organic kind of change management than the traditional top-down method.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be involved! Let other people know who the champions are and what they do.
Pro tip: To spread the word about the champions program, make a general announcement and then make the champions identifiable with a sign on their offices or cubicles, or a frame/badge on their profile pictures.
Encourage your champions to host brown bag meetings (aka lunch and learns) whenever they come across a tool or feature that could help their colleagues. Offer your support in these informal trainings.
Additionally, provide regular opportunities for discussion through meetings and collaboration apps like Yammer or Microsoft Teams.
Use these opportunities to give champions progress updates, share resources, and recognize their efforts. By sharing their experiences and challenges, champions can support each other and provide helpful feedback for the project team.
Watch Your Organization Change
Champions programs are an awesome way to digitize your organization from the bottom up—and to invest in your employees.
To start, just focus on building up a handful of champions. But as your smaller group works its magic, these champions build up the people around them as well. Ultimately, champions can change the entire culture of your organization. Now that’s effective change adoption!
But if all of this seems like a long shot, we’re here to help.
Check out this guide on keeping your champions happy and your program running smoothly.
Give your change initiative a boost with our QuickHelp platform. It’s the way to build a scalable, sustainable champions program with less effort on your part—and it helps everyone in your organization change, not just the champions.
Or, better yet, bring in one of our change experts—when it comes to super-effective change adoption, this isn’t our first rodeo!