Nicole Papaioannou Lugara
Identifying and Preparing Your Internal Influencers and Change Champions
You're ready to invest in a social learning network solution. You want to make knowledge and story sharing a central piece of your learning and development strategy. You even have a content strategy in place.
But it's a radical change from what you've been doing.
And given that you're inviting people to be creators-- rather than just consumers, of information and learning experiences, you're worried implementation.
How do we get people involved? And involved appropriately?
Not only that. How do we get people excited?
Your implementation strategy MUST include consideration for how to best identify and engage your internal influences and change champions.
The best learning experiences don't just build working knowledge, they build community. They empower teams and foster a culture of collaboration.
All of that begins with having the right people to usher in the new way of doing things.
So let's talk about who's who and how to best engage them in supporting the implementation of this non-traditional L&D strategy.
Internal Influencers are those who have a seemingly effortless ability to influence others in your organization. They're often considered by peers to be thought leaders within the organization. They are typically likeable, and people naturally gravitate towards them. People are happy to work with them/for them and to learn from them (usually). They have significant social capital at work.
Internal Influencers can fall anywhere on the org chart. They do not have to be Leaders or Managers to be influential.
Internal Influencers are powerful agents of change. Consider the power of social influence. When a friend (with good taste) recommends a product, you're more likely to buy it. When someone you respect and admire does something, you're more likely to want to do it too.
In fact, social influence is so powerful that 75% of national advertisers surveyed in an ANA study reported using influencers in their marketing strategy. And if you've used Instagram or TikTok recently, you know influencers are making money selling socially.
Change management requires internal marketing. You have to get people to buy in. Thus, you need Internal Influencers to work their magic.
When an Internal Influencer shows excitement for a new initiative, people are more likely to embrace it.
That said, I have a word of caution: some internal influencers thrive on negativity. Jordan Belfort pre-arrest, for example-- very charismatic, very influential, very awful.
I recommend you only engage those who influence others positively in the implementation of your new learning and development strategy. They are being charged with shaping your organization's culture.
Change Champions are those who are excited about your learning and development strategy. They are willing to go to bat and sell the heck out of the solution to others. They're willing to put in the work to make sure the solution is successfully implemented.
Like Internal Influencers, Change Champions can come from any position.
That said, you will NEED a significant portion of leadership-- even better, all leaders-- to become Change Champions during implementation if efforts are to succeed. Leadership needs to model change and support it.
Individuals can be both Internal Influencers and Change Champions, and when they are, they can be incredibly impactful.
Preparing Your People
Like their more mass-adopted counterparts, the success of social learning networks is based on user engagement. User engagement thrives when there is a sense of community, and so do organizations.
It's incredibly important to create an environment where community can thrive.
Your Internal Influencers and Change Champions have a large role to play in creating this environment.
So you'll want to...
Create a launch strategy to market the changes that are coming, and have a plan to sustain engagement long-term.
Identify your Internal Influencers and incentivize them to become Change Champions. Get them involved in the process early on.
Work with your Internal Influencers to create campaigns and content to support the launch. How will they contribute to the success of your strategy? How will they engage your team and get them excited about what's to come?
Define the role Internal Influencers will play in the long-term. How will they continue to motivate their peers to collaborate and contribute?
Enlist Change Champions-- other than Internal Influencers-- to tackle the workload that comes with implementing a social learning network. They may need to define the overall content plan and launch strategy, handle design, set up systems, and perform admin tasks. Essentially, they will need to ensure the Internal Influencers have what they need to use their influence.
Task Change Champions with becoming or appointing moderators to maintain community standards.
Of course, this all starts with finding the right people to serve as Internal Influencers and Change Champions.
Without leveraging the "social," your social learning network may not get off the ground.
How to Find Your People
Not sure who to put in place? My suggestion... ask your people. Try these four questions:
Who would you like to spend a day learning from?
Who gets you excited to come to work?
Who would you like an opportunity to work with?
Who would you like recognize for outstanding achievement?
When you have the right people at the helm, your social learning network will flourish, and it will do that without the constant need for significant supervision and hyper-produced content. Your learning culture and learning content will grow organically. You'll see an improved employee experience and easily accessible insights about how to continue improving.
Ready to build a social learning network at your organization?
Your Instructional Designer offers top to bottom strategy, design, and implementation support through their Social Learning Network Set Up package.
Contact us for a free consultation.