Top 10 Criteria of an Effective Change Catalyst

Top 10 Criteria of an Effective Change Catalyst
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What Is an Effective Change Catalyst?

Also called a Change Champion, we define an effective Change Catalyst as someone who helps to guide, navigate, and accelerate the people side of change with key stakeholders.  An effective Change Catalyst is responsible for engaging, motivating, communicating, and coordinating with stakeholders and bringing them successfully along the change journey. Done right, Change Catalysts are critical ambassadors and liaisons for desired change at work.

Why Change Catalysts Are Essential for Change
Catalysts are essential for change because, done right, they provide the confidence and support that those affected by change need to tackle new ways of working and sustain behavior change. While putting the right tools and training in employees’ hands is required, it isn’t enough.

Successful catalysts change mindsets, spread momentum, and provide support.  Their success is measured by the people around them being successful with the new ways from a results and behavior perspective. Change catalysts only succeed when others around them do.

The Track Record on Organizational Change
Most leaders know that change management consulting is hard.  According to recent research by Bain of over 300 companies attempting large scale change, only 12% achieved or exceeded their aims, and over one-third failed miserably.  The biggest barriers to success were:

The same research found that senior leadership support, employee engagement and interest, clear goals and accountabilities, and effective internal change communication most heavily contributed to successful organizational change.  From our change management simulation data and field experience at clients, these themes have not changed much over the years.  Change Catalysts should play an important role in all four areas.

Top 10 Criteria of an Effective Change Catalyst
Leading and navigating organizational change is not easy.  To be an effective Change Catalyst, you must be a trusted influencer, a natural leader, and skilled in working with others.  If you are looking to enroll change champions as part of your organizational change initiative, our data tell us the the most effective Change Catalysts:

  1. Represent all the key stakeholder groups affected by the change
  2. Have already earned the trust and credibility with their assigned stakeholder group
  3. Are widely perceived as high performers by leadership and their peers in terms of performance and behaviors
  4. Are people that the Change Leadership Team respects and will listen to on a regular basis
  5. Have demonstrated high levels of emotional intelligence, judgement, communication, and courage
  6. Have proven and recognized ability to lead, coach, and motivate others
  7. Are able to identify barriers and resistance to change
  8. Are approved and supported by their manager
  9. Are able to devote at least 4-8 hours per week to the project
  10. Are able to attend highly customized and relevant change management training

The Four Big C’s of Change Catalysts
Once you identify people with the above ten attributes, your next step is to ensure your change champions have conviction, courage, clarity and consistency:

  • Conviction
    Change champions must be convinced that the change can make a difference and that it will have a significant positive impact on the business and on the people.  Their commitment will help persuade others to adopt the new ways.
  • Courage
    Changing entrenched routines, values, and behaviors can be difficult.  Anyone who has tried to change their own behavior or habits, much less those of anyone else, knows this.  But it can be done.  Change champions must have the courage to make important, but difficult decisions.
  • Clarity
    Change champions must be able to clearly and persuasively articulate why they think change is necessary – not just for the company’s sake but for the well-being of all stakeholders.  Change champions should help everyone be able to visualize the goal, commit to the new ways, and make the daily decisions that lead toward success.
  • Consistency
    Attaining and then sustaining change takes a long-term focus.  Change champions must not only model the new ways; they must also ensure that rewards and consequences are aligned with what is now expected.

The Bottom Line
Change champions are committed change leaders who understand what is at stake and what it takes for their companies to help shift people in a new and necessary direction.  Be sure you pick the right catalysts to help create the conditions for successful change.

To learn more about how to succeed at organizational change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Change that Leaders Must Pay Attention To

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