Why You Need a Change Network for Your Change Project

You can call it a change network or change ambassadors (or something similar). Use the terminology that works for your organization.

Linking entities. Network, social media, internet communication abstract. People or machines connected by communication network. Web of gold wires on rustic wood. Shallow DOF. Strong highlight.

The purpose of the group is to identify key influencers who have credibility amongst their peers and can represent a cross-section of the organization impacted by the change(s) coming. They serve as liaisons between the change team implementing the changes and the population which will soon be absorbing, or receiving the changes.

What do they do, you might ask?

  • Most importantly they LISTEN. They gather feedback from the group or department they represent. Some groups are more open to sharing than others. So they may need to create venues or forums to generate dialogue.
  • When the change network meets periodically, they share the feedback they’ve heard. Not by name, of course, but the key is “What are the trends?” What might the change team need to do differently? or address in the messaging? or the way the change is rolling out?
  • They point people with questions or concerns to the right places to get accurate information (ex: where FAQs are posted online, or recommend talking to an HR Business Partner or other Subject Matter Expert who has the details). They are not the SMEs themselves

In the past, communication about change initiatives was cascaded down from leadership in most organizations. A change network does not replace the role of leaders to share information with their teams. It supplements the leaders’ role.

The problem with the cascading approach is that some leaders follow through and others do not. This creates information voids in some parts of the organization. (The change management expert Darryl Connor refers to this concept as a black holeĀ.) Then some departments or organizations are information rich and others are information poor.

As a result, the grapevine runs wild! The grapevine has always existed. Unless you feed the grapevine facts, more often than not, DISinformation spreads. The change network ensures accurate information spreads through the organization instead. You reduce your reliance on cascading, which may or may not actually take place.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1. Sign up to receive the PeopleResults blog at Current.