Become a Sponsor of Change

how to become a sponsor of changeDoes even the smallest kind of change seem like a big problem at your company? You’re not alone. As highlighted in “The Inconvenient Truth About Change Management” (McKinsey & Co., 2011) studies have repeatedly shown that only 30% of change initiatives are successful. One of the most common reasons why change initiatives fail with organizations is because there’s poor sponsorship from the leadership. But yet there’s hope!

To be a good “sponsor of change,” you must:

  • Express support for the desired change through oral and written communications
  • Model your personal behavior to align with the change
  • Reinforce change by aligning employee goals, in addition to a rewards and recognition system, to support the change

But let’s take a closer look at these points, starting with what it means to be a “sponsor.” One of my favorite synonyms for the word “sponsor” is “advocate,” which conjures up all kinds of images of someone who is designated or opts to lead, nurture and support someone in a time of need. This is what you’re trying to be for your people, day in, day out and in their time of need.

Like an advocate or any other type of leader, a “sponsor of change” must be fearless, yet strategic about communicating what’s got to be accomplished. This means you’ve got to put down the desired change on paper and outline the key points through clear, simple and easy-to-understand oral and written communications. This is a first step to ingraining critical, challenging change into the workplace culture.

Next, you’ve got to transform your personal leadership style, habits and activities to support the change you’re sponsoring. If you’re asking everyone to be on time for meetings, you better be there on time if not five minutes early. If you’re asking employees to smile when they help customers, you better be smiling, too. Your personal behavior must genuinely model and align with the change. After all, if the boss doesn’t follow the outlined process for change, what message does that send to others?

Finally, successful change is most dependent upon having a management system that makes it happen. You create that by aligning employee goals to enable the desired change. And then you must also establish and implement a rewards and recognition system that inspires and sustains the transformation.

Follow these three steps to sponsoring change, and you’ll discover that it doesn’t have to always be such a challenge after all. Interestingly, studies show that if you simply model the personal behavior aligned with the change you want, you’ll be much more likely to succeed. What’s more, your odds of achieving change get even better if you reinforce that change with established goals, recognition and rewards. Take charge of and become a sponsor of change today!

What else can you do to become a better sponsor of change?


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