How do we deliver sustainable, long-lasting skill development and behaviour change that provides real change and organisational benefit? One of our methods is to use resilience champions. Here, we discuss our approach in more detail.
How do we maintain change within an organisation?
To support the continued development of resilience skills within individuals, teams and cultures, we work with a select group of individuals who act as champions. These champions serve as a catalyst for the continued integration of resilience long after training has finished and lead initiatives that use resilience, skills and people to improve performance, wellbeing and culture.
In short, they maximise investment in people’s skill development by adding mini-resilience experts to business teams.
What are Resilience champions?
Resilience champions are a few committed and influential people, preferably people representing the diversity of teams within the business. In our experience, they do not have to be managers and leaders, just committed, passionate people who want to support their teams. We suggest keeping their number below twelve, so their focus is on action, not just discussion.
Champions are expected to continue as usual with their day-to-day role and conduct champion activities in their spare time. The role is available to anyone who has completed the resilience programme. Champions attend monthly sessions and work with a facilitator from the team at the Resilience Development Co. to:
- Connect with other resilience champions and share ideas, concerns and success
- Become more comfortable with the skills and resources learnt in resilience training
- Support each other to generate ideas to promote/build team resilience
- Discuss and remove any barriers to developing resilience within their teams that are observed
What is their purpose?
Champions support each other in thinking of, debating, planning, and initialising ideas to support the development of resilience in each other, their teams, and the broader organisation.
Acting as a focal point for all things resilience, they support their team to refresh, identify and use resilience skills on themselves, in their teams and with their clients. Their role includes:
- Advocate, role models and promote resilience skills to help develop a resilient culture
- Help colleagues find the right resource when they need help
- Raises awareness of any resilience initiatives
- Provide peer-level encouragement, motivation and support
- Support and build excitement in those about to start resilience training
- Supporting those undergoing training and
- Refreshing and sharing tips on how to use the skills with those who have finished the training
We work with champions to build their confidence and knowledge so they can influence and lead high-profile initiatives that significantly contribute to their organisation’s vision.
Demonstrating an ROI and realising the long-term benefits of training is a business necessity, and resilience champions are one of the approaches we use to facilitate it. Having champions within the business ensures resilience is kept in people’s minds, and the skills are constantly promoted. Adding longevity to any investment in training and development.
Why invest in champions?
The champions offer four key advantages to all organisations that invest in them:
- Resilience champions are essential to maintain the speed of transformation experienced by people and teams who attended the resilience programme.
- The champions contribute to the uptake of resilience within the culture and accelerate culture change.
- The champions allow the organisation to maximise their investment by creating a series of mini experts to continue the business relationship with resilience for many years after we have stepped away.
- The critical aspect of the champions is that they allow the business to own its resilience. People within the community who know how the company operates can take the skills base and adapt it to their needs and company values.
Who makes an ideal candidate?
Champions must have a greater interest in resilience skills, are enthusiastic, and desire to engage others with resilience-based initiatives. Importantly they must be volunteers. This role is on top of their day job and takes a little extra time and energy. They need to be keen, or nothing will happen.
What can managers expect from their champions?
Progress will be steady for the first few months as the champions build confidence and teamwork. Initially, initiatives may be under the radar, supporting people, raising awareness among their peers or working on a more significant project. Every champion team we support are initially asked to:
- Become more familiar with the Resilience App
- Start all team meetings and 1:1 conversations with a skill we call ‘Grab the Good’
- Create a champion group in their internal comms, either ‘WhatsApp or ‘Microsoft teams, for example
- Write an introductory statement to let everyone in the business know who they are and their purpose as champions
- Introduce themselves in team meetings as champions
- Ask for a segment in their internal comms emails and newsletters to introduce themselves to the broader organisation and place their statement
Based on our experience within the first six months, champions will run initiatives that contribute to the organisation’s overarching vision and support internal and external stakeholders. Within nine to twelve months, they will no longer need the support of one of our facilitators as they develop more cohesively as a team.
*Champions with whom we worked over five years ago are still operating and directing initiatives within their organisation.
Initiatives undertaken by champions:
We have seen a broad range of initiatives that champions have identified, planned and organised. These include:
- Using resilience skills as the bedrock for redesigning internal and external processes
- Building templates utilising resilience skills for teams to use on/with clients
- Facilitating specialist sessions that tackle key personal challenges utilising the resilience skills – for example, ‘join us for lunch and learn if you are struggling to sleep because you can’t switch off’
- Generating interest in refresher sessions
- Create skills-based posters and place them around the office
- Collate the character strengths profiles of team members and share them so people get to know each other and can play to each other’s strengths
- All new joiners complete a strengths profile, which is shared across the team
- Plan and organise resilience-themed events and weeks
- Each champion specialises in one module to run refresher sessions
- Champions talk through essential skills with all new joiners
- Resilience is placed on the agenda in every team meeting
- Publish in internal communications interviews with senior leaders on the impact of the skills on them and encourage further use
- Use internal communications to share stories of skill use that inspire others
- Organise creative thinking/oscillation walks at lunch
- Engage with all managers across the whole business to get them talking about resilience
Investing in developing resilience champions is not just a nice thing to have. They are a part of what makes learning and development programmes successful. Learning and development programmes are strategic resources that deliver real change and support organisational growth and change. Champions are crucial to maximise this growth and provide more significant, sustained ROI and organisational benefits.