Screenshot of 'Find a Digital Champion app' with colourful badges in Microsoft Teams
By | Published On: 20 May 2021 |

Knock out digital champs – how to find the top people who’ll really pack a punch on your digital champion programme.

According to the Harvard Business Review and a study by Degreed, 55% of people prefer to learn from their peers and the people around them rather than a formal training programme.

Peer to peer learning is extremely powerful as it works at a more authentic level. There doesn’t have to be any structured learning as people can learn on the job from the people they know and trust.

So, when it comes to introducing a new system or launching a new piece of software, do people want to learn about it from the technical experts or from their team mates? This is where Digital Champions come in.

In this blog, we’ll provide tips for finding knock out digital champs who’ll help to support colleagues to truly adopt new technology and new ways of working.

Firstly, what is a digital champion?

A digital champion can be anyone. They don’t have to be a technical expert or digital guru, although an interest in technology and how it can be used at work does help.

These are the people within your organisation who are passionate about working better and smarter. They embrace change and work collaboratively with their colleagues to find solutions to the challenges they face.

Champions are fundamental in the success of a project, acting as agents for change, supporting their teams in adopting new ways of working and embedding new behaviours.

As part of a champion network, they will learn about the new digital tools and how to use them ahead of their colleagues so they’re comfortable and confident in influencing their teams to adopt them. This peer-to-peer support is vital for engaging people and encouraging them to use the new technology.

Being early adopters means they will be able to understand how the change could impact their colleagues as well as identify any pain points or possible areas of resistance.

What makes a good Digital Champion?

The best champions are those that have self-nominated rather than being put forward by a manager. That motivation and drive really makes the difference in being an effective agent of change.

Managers are, however, best placed to identify those who will make a knock-out champion. It could be something they’ve discussed with them as part of a development plan, or they can see all the right characteristics and attributes in them to make a great champion.

In general, digital champions should be:

  • Motivated to help others – they need to be enthusiastic about helping their colleagues to work smarter and better and adopt the technology and ways of working.
  • Good communicators – they need to be able to communicate what they’ve learnt as part of their digital champion programme back to their colleagues with clarity.
  • Highly engaged and passionate – we’ve already said they don’t need to be technical experts but being passionate about supporting colleagues and engaged in the new changes are a must.
  • Representative of their team – for maximum effect and engagement from team members, digital champions need to represent the typical worker. Not only do they understand and empathise with the effect some changes may have, they will also get a better response from their colleagues.
  • Interested in new ways of working – the best digital champions are always keen to find better and smarter ways of working. They see change as an opportunity to progress and aren’t afraid to try new things.
  • Willingness to invest time in their development – as part of the programme, champions will have to invest time in their learning outside of their normal role.
  • Approachable – colleagues need to know they can go to their digital champion and seek clarification or support. Being approachable and patient with the ability to empathise are so important in creating good working relationships.
  • Proactive – a good digital champion should be willing to share their knowledge within the team, proactively looking for opportunities to support colleagues, encourage new ways of working and being an advocate for the change.

How can you support your Digital Champions to be knock out?

So, now you have your perfect Digital Champion. How can you support and nurture their thirst for knowledge and really utilise their new-found skills to benefit the team and ultimately the business?

  • Create space for them to share – give them the time and space to share their learnings with their colleagues. Whether this is during team meetings or informal sessions, encourage them to take time out of their day-to-day role to share their new knowledge.
  • Create time for them to learn – encourage them to take the time they need to attend webinars or meetings and complete any self-paced learning. Whether that’s a particular afternoon dedicated to their new role or just as and when it works for them but do create the time they need to really grow their new skills.
  • Call upon their knowledge and expertise to solve problems – what’s the point of having all this new knowledge and skills if they aren’t using it? Ask for their opinion or if they know how to solve a particular challenge. Make sure the rest of the team know they can go to them with any queries.
  • Recognise their achievements throughout the programme – some programmes have recognition boards or badges that the digital champions can collect and showcase. Make sure you celebrate their achievements and recognise them for their efforts during team meetings or in 1-2-1s.
  • Encourage their thirst for learning – make it a regular topic you discuss with them and encourage them in their thirst for new knowledge and skills. These are the people who thrive in learning new things and will be a real asset to the team.

Digital champions are a crucial tool in the armoury of any change programme as they’re your people on the ground helping to really embed the changes. They’re making the changes from within the organisation, so people feel supported and heard making it far more likely for new ways of working to stick.

Does your business need help to implement Microsoft 365 and its many tools? Do you want to harness the talent from within your organisation to support it? Then get in touch. We provide a comprehensive Digital Champion Programme providing all the learning and support your champions will need to make your digital change a success. Contact us at [email protected] for a chat.


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