- Lori Janosko
Unique Ideas for Keeping Your Change Advocate Network Engaged
For most Organizational Change Management (OCM) projects, the use of a Change Advocate Network can be extremely beneficial. Change Advocates fill a critical role, adding a level of stability and credibility, particularly when a project impacts multiple countries and teams. However, your Change Advocate Network is only as good as your ability to keep them engaged and committed throughout the project. While most OCM practitioners have a pretty easy time setting up and kicking off the network, many find it challenging to create a schedule of activities that keep members thoroughly engaged throughout the life of the project.
The Change Advocate Network is made up of people who are part of the impacted group of stakeholders. They are often seen as influential because they have been with the organization for a substantial period of time or they have assumed an informal leadership role on their teams. So, when managing your network, it’s important to remember that members have accepted this role in addition to their normal job responsibilities. Like it or not, it’s the responsibility of the OCM leader to ensure these folks stay happy and engaged.
Below are some ideas designed to keep the momentum and positive energy flowing.
Make Kickoff a Special Event – Once you’ve identified your Change Advocate Network, it’s time to produce your kickoff event. Make it special – something your network will look forward to attending. Send a formal invitation (kickoff events are usually done via Webex, Microsoft Teams or a similar application due to geographical spread among attendees) with a welcome and introduction to the network. You can also provide a high-level agenda, so attendees know what to expect at the meeting. It’s a nice gesture arrange for the executive sponsor or business leader to attend the kickoff to say a few words about the project and thank the members of the network for committing their time. Be sure to review the role and expectations. For many attendees, it may be the first time they’ve have the opportunity to take part in a Change Advocate Network and they may not fully understand the scope of their responsibilities.
Set up an Intranet Resource – for members of the Change Advocate Network to access important key documents, presentations, and materials that can be used with regional and local stakeholders.
Hold Regular Monthly Meetings – to keep the network “in the know” and updated on all the important nuances of the project or transformation. One of the benefits of being in the Change Advocate Network is the ability to get information before the rest of the organization. You want to make sure you share important details, milestones, and updates with this group first, enabling them to get comfortable with the details. The network members can then use this information to help cascade and clarify important messages about the project. Monthly Change Advocate Network meetings should be planned in advance and have a set agenda. The OCM Practitioner should be responsible for leading these calls and facilitating conversation about specific topics.
Schedule a Demo (if applicable) – to give the members of the Change Advocate Network a “first look” at the system or platform. Work with the vendor to make the experience fun and engaging. The use of gaming or polling during the sessions is a way to keep the session dynamic and get people involved.
Communications and Translations Review – can be an important function of your network. Why not take advantage of a having the benefit of a second or third pair of eyes on planned communications? Allowing members of the network to review communications can help flag any regional or cultural nuances/issues prior to mass release. You can also call on members of the network to help translate or review translated communications, if applicable. Utilizing the network for some review (you can pick and choose what your send through the network) helps keep the group involved and enables them to see a “courtesy copy” of the message prior to its release to the masses. Finally, your Change Advocate Network can be a great source for quotes in articles or to provide real life examples or scenarios that can connect others to the project.
The feedback and discussion you get from an effective Change Advocate Network can help alert you to areas of resistance earlier and provide a real system of support for the project team. Their insights provide valuable input to any comprehensive OCM plan focused on maximizing engagement and facilitating adoption. Get them involved early and utilize their organizational knowledge to help move your OCM efforts forward.