In times of change, the business looks to its leaders to demonstrate why the change is needed and how to adapt to it. These leader possess the authority and credibility needed for effective change. One of these leaderships roles is held by the Sponsors, who are crucial to the success of the Change Initiative. They need to be actively and visibly involved with the change, in order to encourage other leaders to get on board. Initiating any change within a business comes with risk, but having credible sponsors who are supportive of and encourage the change, minimises this risk!
We’ve summarised the 4 key responsibilities of the Sponsor during change:
Driving the Change Initiative:
The Change Initiative will never be implemented successfully if it is not driven by Senior Management. These leaders have a responsibility to communicate to the rest of the business the importance and need for the Change Initiative. It is the role of the Sponsors to communicate this information, and a lack of involvement on their part can lead to other members in the business resisting the Change Initiative, or struggling to adapt.
Build relationships with Senior Management:
It is the duty of the Sponsors to build partnerships with other leaders within the business, in order to ensure that the Senior Management of the business is supportive of the Change Initiative, which is then driven down to the various departments. This is often referred to as building a coalition of Sponsors. By encouraging the Senior Management to advocate strongly for the Change Initiative, it will encourage the rest of the business to be supportive throughout the transition.
Participate actively and visibly throughout the Change Initiative:
It is important for any leader within a business to participate actively and visibly, as well as be held accountable for their actions. This builds up their credibility and makes them an effective leader of change. The Sponsors need to be present throughout the Change Initiative, in order to maintain the drive of the Team Member’s involved in facilitating the change.
Communicate effectively with the Team Members
The Sponsors need to be the voice behind the Change Initiative, communicating clearly when there are challenges, risks, successes, and areas of improvement. These messages should come from the Sponsors, as their direct engagement with the Change Initiative legitimises it’s need and encourages the support of it. It is important that the Sponsors are involved from the very start of the Change Initiative, in order to build up the credibility of their voice.
Throughout the involvement of Sponsorship in the Change Initiative, the Project Manager involved in facilitating the change has the responsibility of ensuring that the Sponsors are living up to these roles and responsibilities. The Sponsors will often turn to the Project Manager to communicate how the Change Initiative is performing and what is required of them. It is the duty of the Project Manager to ensure the active and visible role of the Sponsors is carried out throughout the Change Initiative process.
A lack of involvement from the Sponsors could slow down the progress of change or result in resistance to change. Effective Sponsorship is ultimately crucial to the success of the Change Initiative.