Finding & Developing Your Digital Workplace Champions by Christian Buckley

Finding your digital workplace champions in a workplace can be tricky. But says Christian Buckley there are four main ingredients to look out for. Here the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk reveals how you can find your digital workplace champions and why they will be the catalyst to creating lasting change within your organization.

Christian has been in the Microsoft community since 2005 and worked for the organization for several years as part of the team that developed the Office suite that is now Microsoft 365. He is a Microsoft RD and a nine-times Microsoft MVP.

Having worked in collaboration technology since the late 90s, he’s the Founder and CEO of CollabTalk LLC and works mainly with independent software vendors (ISVs) in the Microsoft ecosystem.

We invited him to our Valo Fest earlier this year to talk about his four ingredients for successful change management in a digital workplace, how to identify the digital workplace champions and why lasting change is key to business success.

Here’s what he had to say…

What is the secret to change?

Is it simply about selecting the right tools that are going to affect change? Is it that I can employ just training and provide them with the resources and they’ll do it themselves?

For a lot of organizations that have done these things, they have called out employees for doing the right and sometimes the wrong things. They’ve built out this technology. They’ve gone through the training. They’ve checked everything off the list, to make change happen. And then people resort back to the old ways of doing things.

So the way that you affect change that will impact your organization, is that you need to convince your employees and convince your team members to permanently alter their behavior.

The benefits of getting change to happen within your organization is really powerful. When employees are able to adapt to those changes, whatever those changes are, they become more efficient, they become more effective in their roles and in their projects. They automatically become more collaborative and innovative.

Why lasting change isn’t easy

People will follow the path of least resistance. They’re like water running down a hill. You place a stone in front of them and they’ll run around that stone. So you need to think about how am I redirecting, how do I get people to go in the direction that I need so that we’re doing this together. How you reach your destination is just as important the journey.

Too many IT organizations focus too much on process and on the technology because it’s the easiest thing to focus on. There’s a new tool, there’s new capabilities, we often forget about the people and how the three things: people, process and technology need to work together to achieve lasting change.

Ingredients for lasting change & finding digital workplace champions

There are similarities when it comes to lasting change and finding and, eventually, developing your digital workplace champions.

1. Transparency

Working out loud, making it crystal clear, like, “Hey, this is what I’m doing and why,” and ask for feedback around that. The idea that knowledge is power is gone. We need to be transparent.

Power comes through sharing what we know, when we know it, and having an open dialogue around our plans and the state of our activities.

2. Consistency

We need to be consistent in our behaviors. It’s great to have a shared a methodology for how we will move things forward but we can’t do those things, and yet ignore the technology process and especially the people’s needs.

Being consistent in our behavior helps people to understand, okay, this is how we run these projects. Here’s how I need to interact with them. And then they begin to trust.

3. Collaboration

To have that open, transparent collaboration, we need to be collaborative, having that dialogue and providing different methods for people to communicate.

It’s not enough that as operations manager, I might have that weekly status meeting with everybody sitting around a table, and half the room will never say a word, two or three people will talk the entire time. Sometimes you might need to follow up and have a one on one and be like, “you didn’t share much, what are you thinking?”. They’re too nervous in front of a crowd of people, but one on one, they’ll be able to share that out.

Essentially, you are providing people multiple pathways to share, to make their voices heard, to make their opinions known. That’s part of collaboration. It’s not just about the technology, which enables a lot of that, but it’s giving everybody a voice.

4. Iteration

It’s rare that you’ll be able to design something, build a plan, go with 10 different tasks and they all happen, as designed, in that order.

As you start moving forward, you learn a little bit more, you talk to people. If you’re collaborating, and you’re being consistent about that collaboration, and you’re openly sharing all those things, then it gives you that opportunity to iterate.

And while on paper, it looks like that iterative approach takes longer, anybody that spent any time as a business analyst or project manager understands that the waterfall method is more expensive and more time consuming.

How to spot your Digital Workplace Champions

They really do embody those things which I’ve talked about. Those are the kinds of people that you need to identify for these types of roles, the ones that will go out and as the title says, “champion” these efforts to bring people together to bridge the gaps of technology, process and people.

They’re very transparent about what they do, and why they’re doing it. They’re the people that are consistent in their behaviors. They’re the people that do what they say they’re going to do. They’re very collaborative, so they fully embrace the technology. But more than that, they’re reaching across the table and saying, “what do you think?”.

It’s great to have people that have that personality type that are constantly bringing people together. And then that last piece of being iterative, not being married to the plan that’s in place today, knowing that requirements are going to change.

Why lasting change is vital

Change is going to happen, whether we embrace it or not. So finding people who are constantly looking for the change, and helping drive that change and making sure it’s a healthy holistic change is vital. We need to do everything we can to support those individuals by creating a culture where change is at the center.

In my experience, organizations that have a lot of employees at all levels that are good at change are the most effective. They’re the best places to work and they’re the most successful and innovative. And ultimately, you know, the end result is higher performance.

Well, there we go! It was our pleasure to host Christian at our Valo Fest where you can in fact see this and more in a video form!

If you are keen to read more about change management, we’ve got Tracy van der Schyff telling you her ten top tips to getting your Change Management right. Megan Strant offers a more Microsoft 365 approach to Change Management starting with the proper usage of Microsoft Teams.


Do you feel like you hear change management everywhere but feel overwhelmed where to start? No worries, we are here to help via email, phone or give you a live demo straight away on our intranet, idea management and teamwork inside Microsoft Teams. Just ask!


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