Change Champion: Key Roles & Responsibilities


Organizational change is hard. It’s like turning a giant boat. Organizations aren’t usually thought of as flexible. They need a change champion to help them make that change. Of course, a change champion isn’t the whole picture in a change management process, but they’re vital for change.

For those unfamiliar with what a change champion is, first, we’ll define the terms and then explain their importance in organizational change management. Following that will be a list of roles and responsibilities of a change champion and the skill set one looks for in one. All of which is crucial for any organizational change.

What Is a Change Champion?

A change champion is a person who inspires, facilitates and leads the successful change management process from an organization’s current state to its future, desired state. They’re a conduit connecting management and their mandate for change and the staff, who will be affected by the change.

The job of a change champion or change champions, for there can be more than one, is to marshall enthusiasm and commitment for the change initiatives in the organization. They’ll be able to influence those affected by the change or have a personality that can help guide others or overcome resistance to change. A change champion catalyzes action and shepherds successful change in the organization.

Change champions are more than cheerleaders, they are a solid link between the implementation of change and an organization’s embrace of that change. Change without buy-in isn’t successful. Therefore, the change champion is a role model for others to look toward for guidance and to answer questions. They’re the point on which the organization pivots from its current to future state, turning those challenges into opportunities.

A change champion can support change by using project management software. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software that gives change champions the tools they need to create robust timelines to share and implement change plans. With our powerful Gantt charts, all four types of task dependencies can be linked, the critical path can be found by simply filtering the Gantt chart and after setting a baseline it’s easy to track planned effort against actual effort in real time. Plans can be shared, too, which communicates the change plan across the entire organization. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager’s Gantt charts can chart and share the course of change in an organization. Learn more

Why Are Change Champions Important for Organizational Change Management?

There are several reasons that a change champion is an essential part of any organizational change management process. Change champions help ensure that changes are being implemented correctly and successfully. They also ensure that those changes are meeting the goals of the organization.

Change champions serve to foster better communication. They can improve communication by sharing information, addressing concerns and getting feedback from employees. A change champion articulates change to the staff and helps them understand it fully as well as the reasons behind the change.

Successful change is a collaborative effort. Change champions help to foster that collaborative environment. They create a space where everyone feels comfortable sharing their feelings or concerns. Through these efforts, change champions set the stage for a more positive workplace culture.

They can act as a resource for employees affected by the change and support them during the transitional period. Everyone will have a different perspective and a change champion can help overcome resistance to change and generally oversupport as most people are uncomfortable with change, at least at first. The change champion acts as a motivator and source of inspiration and can turn skeptical employees into enthusiastic ones, which empowers the transformation.

Change Champion Roles and Responsibilities

The change champion is an employee who implements the change, though the job may be outsourced. For example, if an organization has hired a professional services firm, they might have a person who will take on that responsibility. Either way, a change champion must be supportive of new ideas and willing to embrace change. The following is a short list of a change champion’s roles and responsibilities.

  • Acting as a liaison between the change management team and employees
  • Executing activities to improve the change readiness of the organization
  • Helping reduce resistance to change
  • Communicating the change to stakeholders
  • Assisting employees before, during and after the change
  • Monitoring the progress of the change implementation process
  • Making reports and change management documentation

Change Champion Skills

A change champion needs to have certain skills to fulfill the above roles and responsibilities assigned to them. This is especially important as a change champion leads by example. Therefore, they must excel at these skills.

What Is a Change Champion Network?

A change champion doesn’t have to be an individual. It can be a group of people. A change champion network is a group of employees who together act as the bridge between management and employees during an organizational change initiative. They share the same goals as a change champion, the same roles, responsibilities and skills, only they’re spread across several different people as opposed to laying on the shoulders of a single person.

For example, a change champion network will spread information about the change management plan, articulate its benefits and model new ways of thinking to get everyone on board with the change. They also will accept questions from employees and provide feedback to management on how the staff feels about the change. Just as a change champion facilitates communication, so does a change champion network.

A change champion network might be employed over a single change champion when the organization and the organizational change are large. If the organization is multinational, it would be difficult to impossible for one person to handle all the responsibilities of a change champion. Likewise, where an organization has thousands of employees a change champion network is more equipped to be persuasive than an individual who would be spread too thin.

Change Champion vs. Change Agent

It’s easy to confuse the two terms change champion and change agent. While they’re both similar, they aren’t the same. Both change champions and change agents form a bridge between the management team tasked with implementing the change and the larger organization that will be affected by the change. They both provide two-way communication to get support and overcome resistance to change.

However, a change champion is a more intensive role than that of the change agent. The change agent is usually there to fulfill advocacy duties rather than undertake specific work activities that a change champion will undertake. The change champions believe in the change and seek commitment and resources for it, but they don’t have the authority to make change happen.

A change agent is assigned the responsibility to implement changes and is evaluated on their ability to implement the project. They’re responsible for tactical change project implementation activity including strategy, design, deployment and evaluation of the change. Therefore, unlike change champions who deal with employees, change agents tend to be assigned to mid-to-upper-level leaders.

Free Change Management Templates

A change champion is likely to use a variety of templates to help with change management. Our site has over 100 free project management templates for Excel and Word that cover every phase of managing a project across several different industries. The following are some free templates that can be used in change management.

Change Log Template

A change log is used to track changes to ensure that they’re done on time and within budget. This free change log template for Excel is a document that captures change when it occurs and helps to monitor progress until that change has been implemented.

Change Impact Assessment

Use this free change impact assessment template for Excel to help understand how a specific change will impact an organization’s people, processes and projects. This will inform resource allocation and reduce risk.

Change Order Template

A change order is a common document used in construction to capture modifications to the scope of work in a project. However, this free change order form template can be used in any change management process to revise the budget and schedule as needed.

How to Manage the Implementation of Changes With ProjectManager

Templates are not the best tool for change management. Change is constant, while templates are not. They are static documents that must be manually updated. On a similar note, change is collaborative, templates aren’t. They won’t provide a shared space where collaborative work can be done. Project management software can plan, manage and track change. ProjectManager is award-winning project and portfolio management software with tools to create shared timelines to manage change implementation plans and other project views that teams can use to execute them. Plus, managers get visibility into progress, costs and more to keep the project moving forward and keep stakeholders informed.

Manage Tasks With Multiple Work Management Tools

When managers make plans on Gantt charts, they’re shared across the software. Teams can execute these tasks on a variety of different project views. There are kanban boards that visualize workflow and robust task lists. This allows teams to manage their work and work collectively with cross-functional teams. Stakeholders can use the calendar view to get a monthly overview of progress and stay updated.

ProjectManager's calendar view
Track Progress and Costs in Real Time

To get visibility into the team’s work without interrupting them, managers can toggle to the real-time project and portfolio dashboard. It automatically collects live data, which is displayed on easy-to-read graphs and charts that show everything from time to cost, workload and more. For greater detail, use customizable reports on status, portfolio, variance, timesheets and more. All reports can be filtered and shared with stakeholders to keep them updated.

ProjectManager's dashboard that tracks six key project metrics
Related Change Management Content

A change champion is part of the larger change management team, who are responsible for the change management process. Change is inevitable and projects must prepare to respond quickly and smartly to it when change occurs. Below are some more recent examples of pieces published on our site that deal with change management for those who want to delve a bit deeper into the subject.

ProjectManager is online project and portfolio management software that connects teams whether they’re in the office, out in the field or anywhere in between. They can share files, comment at the task level and stay updated with email and in-app notifications. Join teams at Avis, Nestle and Siemens who use our software to deliver successful projects. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.