Change Advocate: Definition & Role

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Change advocates are champions for a purpose. In this lesson, you'll learn more about change advocates in the workplace, why they're important and some of the roles they fulfill in this position.

Being an Advocate

There are advocates all over the world who rally behind causes that are important to them: rights for minorities, rights in the workplace, religious freedom, animal rights, rights for the LGBT community, basic human rights, and even free speech. You've probably seen these people speaking on the news, standing on the steps of local courthouses and capitol buildings, and marching in parades or demonstrations.

Why do people become so involved in various social issues? Well, besides believing in the issue at-hand and supporting it, they want to inspire and motivate others to see the good in what they're doing. They're after other people to join alongside them and advocate for their cause.

An example of a change advocate at a protest

These are the champions who broadcast, support and mobilize others to also champion a particular issue. In the workplace, these champions are often referred to as change advocates. Why? Because they advocate for, you guessed it, change.

Defining Change Advocate

A change advocate in an organization is someone who promotes and supports change, and champions their efforts toward making the change happen. Change advocate can exist in all levels of an organization. It might look like a front-line employee who backs the change being considered talking to employees on a lunch break, trying to convince them of the change's merits. On the other hand, it might look like a manager or leader whose job it is to 'sell' the idea of the change to the employees in his or her team.

In this role, a change advocate serves as an intermediary between the organization that wants to implement change and the people in his or her sphere of influence (co-workers, team members, stakeholders, etc.). Because this individual backs the company's decision to enact change, he or she can not only be a cheerleader for the changes to happen, but work hard to convince others why the change is a good idea by offering additional explanations or answering questions. In some organizational change, a change advocate may serve as a go-between to open lines of communication between management and employees, taking the concerns of both sides to the other to help foster a successful outcome.

While the change advocate may be passionate about the change and even supportive, he or she does not necessarily have the authority to enact specific steps toward implementing the change. Rather, he or she 'advocates' for the change by publicly support it and recommending it to others.

Why Advocacy Can Be Important

Advocacy in the workplace can be vital to implementing change for a number of reasons.

First, it helps to relay the key benefits of a particular organizational change. For example, if a business decides it wants to move from working five eight-hour days to four ten-hour days, change advocates can sort through the important points of why this change is a good idea and help persuade others to their way of thinking.

Second, change advocates in the workplace can build a network of support to help push through organizational change. Like a series of dominoes, once one person is onboard, then another decides to join and another, and before long, the series of dominoes has fallen one into the next and a small army of supporters has been built.

Third, change advocates can help with the successful implementation of change. Because these are the people who support change initiatives, they can also be the leaders when it's time to enact the change. They maintain a positive, upbeat outlook that's good role-modeling for colleagues. They can also help leads others who are more uncertain through times of potential upheaval.

The Role of a Change Advocate

So what exactly does a change advocate do? You don't exactly get a new job description that spells out the roles and responsibilities.

Think of change advocacy like an elevator. Tom is a change advocate for his company's decision to modify its manufacturing processes to become more efficient. On the ground floor, Tom is just developing his change advocacy skills by accepting directions for the new process and getting started. He also seeks feedback from others for improving his work.

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