Prosci's Sponsorship Checklist draws from two decades of benchmarking research, including over 3,400 participants. This checklist can be used as an audit tool to see if you are utilizing best practices in how you engage the senior leaders on your change initiatives.
Are your sponsors:
The greatest overall contributor to project success is active and visible sponsorship, as discovered every year by Prosci’s benchmarking research on change management. Make sure your sponsors know this finding.
Senior leaders must:
In the 2017 benchmarking study, over 50% of study participants ranked their sponsor as having a moderate to poor understanding of their role.
Effective sponsors must be involved in more than just signing their names on the project charter. Sponsor engagement must happen throughout the life of the project, from the kickoff to project completion. Effective sponsors cannot disappear or remain in the background.
Sponsors must interact with and engage with the other leaders to make changes successful. In the Prosci change management methodology, a sponsor diagram reveals which other business leaders and managers are needed for the change to be successful. The primary sponsor must build relationships and commitment with these other key leaders.
As noted in the communication checklist, the sponsors of change are one of the two preferred senders of communication messages. Your sponsors need to directly communicate with employees about the business reasons for change, risks of not changing and why the change is happening now.
Participants in the 2017 study noted a high rate of failure of personal sponsor engagement, including not participating through the entire project, abdicating their role to lower-level managers or the project team and failing to communicate the reasons for change with immediate employees. Project teams face tremendous difficulties when they have a sponsor who does not personally engage in the change.
Managing resistance is a key role of senior leaders, managers and supervisors. Your sponsor needs to be prepared and ready to deal with resistance in the organization, especially from other senior or mid-level managers. As a change manager in the organization, you will need to coach senior leaders on how to identify the root causes of resistance and how to engage and manage resistance when it happens.
Celebrating successes (even small, short-term successes) is an important part in building support and momentum for your changes. Sponsors play a key role in recognizing employees both publicly and privately.
Sponsors influence priorities through their behaviors, actions and communications. Sponsors must show both their own and the organization's commitment to a change if they expect employees throughout the organization to become engaged.
'Flavor of the month' describes a situation where organizations are constantly introducing and abandoning initiatives. A 'flavor of the month' situation where new initiatives are launched every month and not completed creates a very difficult background for creating any meaningful change. In the organization, sponsors are responsible for launching new initiatives and ensuring that new projects are not just the next 'flavor.’