They go by different names… productivity champion, productivity ninja, super user, evangelist. Whatever catchy title an organization chooses to label the role, the function is the same and is vital for ensuring successful adoption of O365.
NOTE: for the remainder of this post I will refer to the role as ‘productivity champion’.
In order to realize the business value an organization has tied to the implementation of O365, the product needs to be adopted. The ultimate goal of adoption within an organization is O365 services are effectively baked into day-to-day collaboration scenarios. Although the IT functional role within an organization will always be required in helping O365 adoption thru technical setup, various forms of training, and support, they cannot successfully champion the product alone. Ideally this adoption will be grown organically across an organization and an effective way of doing that is through productivity champions within their teams.
I believe anyone can be trained to learn the technical end-user skills of O365 so in my mind the differentiating characteristics of a truly effective productivity champion are the intangible skills. What are they?
They are reasonably comfortable with change
With the frequent introduction of change in O365, the champion needs to be comfortable with this as they will often be the first line of contact when users around them first come across a change. It’s best if the champion doesn’t “freak out” at the first sign of something different. Also, there are controls within O365 to notify administrators of upcoming changes and ideally they will inform the productivity champions ahead of time so they can be prepared for questions and concerns.
They have influence over those they work with
This doesn’t mean they are the highest ranked member of their team, that’s not the kind of “influence” I’m talking about. The productivity champion needs to have the type of influential personality to be able to convince those around them to try something new. They should be approachable and good at explaining things.
They are resourceful
They need to realize it’s ok if they don’t have all the answers, but they know where to go to find them. This includes knowing the support offered within an organization (Service Desk, internal training sessions) as well as being comfortable using public Microsoft tools such as:
- Microsoft Tech Community – encourage your champions to sign up for the community and participate. It’s free and a great way to learn!
- FastTrack Productivity Library – full of great free material for different adoption scenarios. Need to learn about how to run an effective Skype meeting? This site has you covered.
They are technically “savvy-ish”
I firmly believe you don’t need to be a technical wiz to be a productivity champion however you do need to be reasonably comfortable trying out new features and figuring out how things work -a natural curiosity. Also, it’s important not to be paralyzed if something doesn’t work quite the way you think it should.
They positively reinforce change
This can be done thru numerous means – by encouraging others around them to try the new tools and behaviours and offer praise when they see people using them in their day-to-day.
They can handle the naysayers
The productivity champions will have many personality types on their teams. Some of these will be naysayers and may be hard to sway to use the new tools/behaviours. Depending on the severity of the resistance, productivity champions may not be successful in influencing the dissenters in the crowd. It’s important they don’t get discouraged and instead focus on the individuals they can influence. They may need to watch the naysayers don’t negatively influence the positive change being promoted and exercise more patience with them in hopes they will one day be open to change.
For the productivity champions’ herculean efforts, what can an organization do in return?
Make it part of their job
Ideally an organization will provide time and space to the productivity champions to fulfill the role. Time spent will be in addition to their regular job responsibilities and we want to ensure it’s not an “off the side of the desk” thing. This will demonstrate to the champions the importance the organization places on the role.
Train them… continuously
Give them the tools they need so they can confidently support their own influential circles and evangelize the product. Also, since the product is changing over time, make sure we continue the education. We need to sufficiently arm them with the skills to do the job.
Support them… always
If/when things don’t go well, reassure them there’s a lot to learn with the O365 suite and no one can know it all. It’s important the productivity champions know this and feel comfortable coming forward for help.
Keep in touch
Touch base with them often to find out how things are going. Maybe the role isn’t what they thought it would be and they don’t want to do it anymore. You want to make sure your productivity champions are comfortable in the role and exhibiting the traits listed above in order for them to be the most effective for your organization. If they don’t want to do it, find someone else who does – everyone will be happier for it.
Do you have productivity champions in your organization? If so, what traits do you look for and how are you supporting them?
Thanks for reading.