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Efficient Sponsorship: Key Change Success Factor

Looking for the key change success factor? Look into sponsorship

At the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Global Conference, I asked colleagues what was their biggest challenge as change management advisors. Several answered: “How to mobilize and actively engage my sponsors in the change.”

For years now, research and literature have demonstrated that an efficient sponsorship is THE key success factor of a project. However, there seems to be a big gap between knowing and acting. How to explain this difficulty to engage sponsors? There are many reasons; sponsors mention lack of time; do not see the value; do not understand or see that it is part of their role; do not know how; they allocated change management resources instead.

No matter the reasons. If executives do not fully play their role as sponsors, then use recognized techniques to change behavior, namely their own:

  1. Appeal to reason. Share articles, research material, examples, analogies, clear arguments that emphasize the importance of sponsorship and explain what it is.
  2. Appeal to emotions. Talk in terms of risks. People are more motivated by “not losing” than by winning. Make it crystal clear to each relevant executive and manager that both their management and team expect them to fully play their role of sponsor.
  3. Make them spring into action. Slice the role into palatable chunks. Clearly explain what is expected of them. In terms of behaviors, attitudes and actions. For example, hold a monthly meeting with team members to have an open dialog on projects and actively listen to their concerns.
  4. Offer support. Offer your support to all sponsors so they, in turn, can support their managers to play their role with employees. Give them tools and practical advice to act as active sponsors.

Admittedly, the challenge lies in knowing how to implement these actions. This is where your ability to influence and to put into practice everything you know about change adoption comes into play.

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