A key partner: a change ambassadors’ network
In this article, we presented the concept of collective intelligence and what it implies for companies: among other things, faster and more efficient problem solving, as well as an increase in the potential to innovate. If collective intelligence is essential for maintaining the dynamic of a company, it also has its place in a change project, where it can take the form of a network of change ambassadors.
The operational level of an organisation, of a team, is generally strongly impacted by any change projects that companies undertake. The extent of adaptation required by this type of project may vary, but employees will undoubtedly have to change some of their routines, which may be more or less well received by them. Neglecting to do so can have consequences for organisations that are sometimes difficult to remedy. It is therefore relatively clear that no change project can succeed if the operational level is not taken into account and involved throughout the process. Bear in mind this old saying: prevention is better than cure!
- Loss of trust
- Fall in job satisfaction
- Lack of involvement
- Increased sense of injustice
- Loss of loyalty to the employer
- Increased absenteeism and presenteeism
- Loss of productivity
First of all, it is important to clarify more precisely what the change ambassadors do, in order to avoid misuse of this structure. Indeed, the ambassadors intervene within a well-defined framework which should also be communicated internally.
The network is generally made up of voluntary and motivated employees, whose primary missions will be to promote the change project and to relay information between management and all employees. They are the local contacts to whom employees can send their questions about the change project.
Ambassadors are part of an ecosystem in which other stakeholders with specific missions are involved. It will be crucial to ensure that all these bodies have a clear understanding of the framework of their mission and the role they play within the change project. This will facilitate the creation of synergies between them.
The following pyramid summarizes the different missions of these people:
Setting up an ambassador network cannot be improvised and requires a structured approach. Planning is key. At MindForest, we regularly integrate ambassador networks into our change management projects to ensure that we understand and take into account the needs of the field and can therefore adapt our approach and communication. When we set up this type of structure we do so in four main stages, each of which fulfils a specific objective. It will be important to ensure that the sequence is respected and that we do not miss any of the steps
|1||Plan the network||Set up the network structure and inform all the stakeholders|
|2||Prepare the network||Unite the members of the network and prepare them for their role|
|3||Consult the network||Gather all relevant information and identify the root causes of all problems encountered|
|4||Consolidate the network||Maintain the dynamism of their interaction|
Within the steps listed, some activities will be particularly important to implement, including the following:
- Identify a sponsor and a facilitator. These two stakeholders play a key role in the functioning of an ambassadors’ The sponsor, who will ideally be part of the management and steering bodies, will attribute legitimacy to the network and provide support when needed. The facilitator will be responsible for creating and maintaining momentum within the network. (S)He will be responsible for keeping the ambassadors motivated. It will be essential to make these two actors aware of the importance of their role.
- Train the facilitator. The person who is selected for this role may not necessarily have experience of running a network. In this case, it will be necessary to provide specific training to the facilitator so that s/he feels sufficiently equipped and prepared to take on the new role.
- Choose your ambassadors. The choice of ambassadors should take into account the “ideal profile” (see above) but also ensure that the different departments or teams of the organisation are well represented.
- Raise awareness of change management among ambassadors so that they can see the big picture and understand the issues. The training will make them aware of the key elements of a change project and what it means for the organisation and its employees.
- Ensure that the link between ambassadors and steering bodies is maintained throughout the project. The ambassadors are an important communication channel that must not be neglected and must be solicited. An unsolicited network will lead to demotivation and may harm the project.
- Make the network visible in the organisation so that employees can refer to it if necessary. This should be carried out after the network has been set up, either through an email, a newsletter, a poster or the intranet if the organisation has one. It will be important not only to introduce the ambassadors but also to remind them of the framework of their mission.
- Create a rhythm of meetings. The network facilitator should ensure that a rhythm of meetings is created to prevent the network from losing its dynamic and running out of steam. Ideally, meetings should be organised at least once a month. In consultation with the steering committee, specific themes can be discussed, involving the ambassadors in the co-construction of solutions if possible.