Ready…Set…Change: 4 Characteristics of Change Champions
By: Meredith Masse
When I Googled “humans and change,” the first few results came from three heavy-hitters in mainstream media:
And the take on the topic wasn’t entirely surprising even if a little disheartening. Management and leadership books, articles, blogs and more use a lot of real estate on the topic and it’s generally presented from this same perspective: that people do not like change and will resist it.
If we look at how people react to change (in this case based on the adoption of new technology), we see that there are actually people who thrive on change. [Shocking I know.]
While “Innovators” actually create change, “Early Adopters” tend to be a bit more discerning in their adoption choices than “Innovators,” making them excellent choices for being your organizational change champions within an organization.
Characteristics of Change Champions
Willing listeners. Change champions listen openly to the what, why, where, when and how of new ideas and methods. They may ask a few questions to clarify, and once that curiosity is satisfied, they’re likely 99% on board.
Organizationally savvy leaders, even without a title. These are the people others rely on for information. The ones peers, direct reports and even superiors run to as soon as news hits to get the “real story.” They “get” the organization, its norms, culture, values, strengths and shortcomings. Harness the power of this grapevine for the good by equipping these Chatty Cathy’s with accurate information, key messages and resources up the chain of command so they can tell the real story.
Naturally positive communicators. People naturally first want to know “What’s in it for me?” Ideal change champions will see the positive in not “doing it the same way we’ve always done it.” Their optimistic outlook can be contagious, helping others translate intended outcomes of change in constructive terms.
Unafraid askers. They ask questions. They ask for help. They ask for authentic, direct communication from leaders (and give productive feedback freely). They ask empathetically how others are doing and support those struggling with the change to see the best in the situation.
And it wouldn’t be a blog post by yours truly without a nod to Kolbe Wisdom, also beneficial when searching for change champions. This white paper asserts that when teaching “people the best ways to utilize their natural abilities … people will have a greater joy of accomplishment, and productivity rates will improve as much as 200%.”
What other characteristics do the champions in your organization possess that have supported change efforts?
Image credit: The diffusion of innovations according to Everett Rogers, a professor of communication studies, who popularized the theory in his book Diffusion of Innovations originally published in 1962 and now in its 5th edition.