Sponsorship of Change Management


Dr. Hole has managed several change project for several major corporations. The skills and understanding to manage change is one of the most important skills a senior executive can have. It does not help that a senior executive is good in strategy. Often we see that strategic senior executives are not good in operative operation management.

Senior executives and leaders provide the authority and credibility needed for a change to be successful. Whether the change involves new processes, new systems, new job roles or new organization structures senior leaders must be present to demonstrate the organization’s as well as their own commitment to the change.

The biggest obstacle to success

One of the biggest obstacle to success, is the ineffective change sponsorship from senior leaders as their primary obstacle. Dr. Hole`s mentioned is that the senior executive lack understanding and knowledge of change management. Due to their lack of understanding of change management their sponsorship is also inactive or invisible, not at the right level, not aligning other leaders around the change and wavering in their support. Ineffective sponsorship resulted in more resistance and slower progress for the effort.

Senior involvement and timely change management activities

Change participants that are able to start change management at the initiation of a project need to identify what enabled a preferred approach. The factor that is the most cited as responsible for ensuring change management started at the onset of the project: senior leadership involvement. Senior leaders with knowledge and experience in leading change insisted on change management inclusion from the start of the project.

Preferred senders for a change

Employees have preferred senders of messages about change. There are two people in the organization employees want to hear from about the change: the person they report to and a leader at the top. So, not only are senior leaders important at the macro-level, they play a key role in supporting the application of change management and in communicating directly to employees about why a change is needed.

Role of the Sponsor

  1. Participate actively and visibly throughout the project

The role of active and visible participation for the primary sponsor was is one of the most important things in a change process. Visible sponsorship from allocating the necessary funding to attending project review meetings. Sponsors cannot disappear once they’ve attended the kick-off meeting for a project. Their sustained presence is necessary to build and maintain momentum for a change.

  1. Build a coalition of sponsorship and manage resistance

Change participants needs the primary sponsor to take a lead role in building and maintaining a healthy coalition in support of the change. The sponsor must mobilize other key business leaders and stakeholders so they can take the change back to their part of the organization. The coalition is especially important for changes that stretch across multiple parts of the organization.

3. Communicate directly with employees

As noted above, employees want to hear about why a change is important from someone either at the very top of the organization or at the top of their department or division. Senior leaders must deliver messages about why the change is being made and the risks or costs if no change is made.

While these three roles are critical to the success of any change effort, the reality is that not all executives and senior leaders are fulfilling these roles effectively.

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