Article by Brendan Cox | 2 November 2015
Organisational Champions Empower the Champion Organisation
I have the pleasure of managing 18 people who, as a collective, are striving to be the best in our industry. I truly believe that financial advice is a team sport in which my job is to create that champion team by promoting purpose, values and importantly peer-to-peer engagement to grow our team culture. I promote the concepts of the whole organisation being greater than the sum of its individual parts. But how do you practically promote this within your small to medium sized organisation where resources are limited?
During the recent AFA Practice of the Year Tour, I was asked: “As a business manager how do I promote employee engagement and get employees thinking about the business beyond their specific role descriptions?”. Additionally, “How can I create greater engagement between the staff so they can value each other and themselves as a team?”.
Simply the questions were about how I get the 18 individual employees invested in the ‘whole’ to ensure the business is greater than its individual parts.
One approach I have employed to date (and I am always learning!) is to empower those around me by giving them organisational level responsibility and assigning each employee with an ‘Organisational Champion’ responsibility. Once they are given an Organisational Champion responsibility, I reassure them that training will be provided and while the task has been given to them, the ultimate responsibility for organisational performance in these areas resides with the manager. Our Organisational Champions are tasked with areas of responsibility such as Workplace Health and Safety, Corporate Social Responsibility, IT, Social Engagement, Business Process Mapping, Client Management System development and so on. All these areas will affect the individual and the whole organisation on a regular basis.
In these areas, our Organisational Champions lead the discussion on behalf of the organisation as well as act as the ‘go to’ person at the individual level when issues require action, resolution, development or just noting. A direct result of this process is greater peer-to-peer engagement and a shared load amongst the staff to ensure not too much is invested in any one individual within the organisation. Organisational Champions is the promotion of a business voice to each employee… it is a statement that your opinion is valued and I seek your judgement.
Ultimately, Organisational Champions gain a greater sense of their value to the organisation as they are engaged on a routine basis by their peers, and by management, to assist in the development of the organisation as a whole.
Here are 3 simple steps in creating the architecture for your business in which Organisational Champions may be successful for your business:
Step 1. Identify your Troops to tasks… find your Champion!
Through your routine HR engagements and hallway discussions, you will get an appreciation of what interests each employee will have beyond their specific job description. I also conduct quarterly ‘fireside chats’ with the staff in which they are invited in for a discussion on anything they wish to raise in relation to their specific work tasks and the broader working environments. I use these chats as a cultural health check and will discuss what the intrinsic motivators of an employee are or what interests they have beyond their specific role descriptions. These discussions assist in identifying a true champion to lead your organisation into the future.
Step 2. Train and empower the individual.
Once the Champion’s environment is identified (such as Workplace Health and Safety) and where specific training and awareness is required, then I invest in the individual to gain the necessary skills. This investment beyond an individual’s core responsibility has, in my experience, always been well received and a great foundation to engage their peers on issues and areas of improvement within their area of responsibility.
Step 3. Create the Learning platform for Champions to shine.
Once the Organisational Champion has been identified and trained up then the organisation must promote them and what they are doing on behalf of the team on a regular basis. We have a monthly learning lunch in which the whole organisation comes together to learn what has been happening around them over the past month. A critical part of this learning lunch is an Organisational Champion Update. At these meetings, informative and at times robust discussions occur. Importantly, through Organisational Champion responsibilities, every employee has a voice and becomes an active contributor to your overall business (teams) performance.
Financial Advice, like many businesses, is a team sport. Culture and the sense of belonging to a team are critical elements in the creation of your champion team. Organisational Champions are a simple way in which you can seek greater engagement at the individual level and empower the voices of your business on a regular basis.
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