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Don't Be an Ed: Why You Need a Change Management Sponsor and How to Identify a Strong One

Much of the work we do at Gladius is in the change management space, which is essential to successful transformations across organizations. So, what is change management, exactly? It's the process of supporting stakeholders in adopting change by increasing their awareness, understanding, buy-in, and ability. It addresses the behaviors necessary to realize the intended outcome's success – essentially, it's the people side of change.


You might think that change management is a "fluffy" buzz statement that doesn't really make an impact. In reality, 70 percent of change & transformation programs fail to achieve their goals, primarily due to employee resistance and lack of management support. The good news is that studies show projects incorporating excellent change management were six times more likely to meet their objectives.


One of the most critical aspects of change management is having an effective change sponsor, and recently, our team had the privilege of presenting at a client's global leadership meeting on this topic. After running through a scenario we built, the team quickly adopted the slogan "Don't be an Ed" to name and avoid the characteristics of an ineffective change sponsor.


I want to share why having an "Ed" as your change management sponsor might not be the best idea. **Note: We have nothing against all the great Eds out there. We just picked a name, and it stuck. No Eds were harmed in the making of this training - certainly not Mr. Ed.


Who is Ed?

Ed is that well-meaning executive who believes that change is simply a matter of sending an email and expecting everyone to fall in line. Ed doesn't see the need for communication, engagement, or buy-in from the teams affected by the change. Ed thinks that change is easy and that people should just get on with it -- usually because Ed is someone who dictates change rather than someone significantly impacted by change.


Why Ed is Not the Best Sponsor for Change Management:

Lack of Communication: Ed believes that change happens from the top down, so he doesn't see the need to communicate with the rest of the organization. In Ed's mind, leaders are in charge – they inform followers of change, and then followers make the change because they've been told to – and then just deal with it. This lack of communication leads to confusion, frustration, and resistance among employees.

No Engagement: Ed doesn't understand the importance of engaging employees in the change process. He thinks that as long as he and the other executives are on board, everyone else should be. This lack of engagement leads to apathy and resistance.

Resistance to Feedback: Ed doesn't like to hear that his ideas might not be perfect. He sees feedback as criticism and is quick to dismiss any suggestions for improvement. This resistance to feedback leads to missed opportunities for innovation and improvement.


What to Look for in a Strong Change Management Sponsor:

Effective Communication: A good change management sponsor understands the importance of communication and ensures that everyone in the organization understands the reasons for the change and what it means for them. In other words, they explain the "why" behind the change.

Employee Engagement: A successful sponsor actively engages employees in the change process, soliciting their input and feedback and addressing their concerns along the way.

Open to Feedback: An effective sponsor is open to feedback and sees it as an opportunity for improvement. They are willing to listen to different perspectives and make adjustments as needed.

While Ed may mean well, he is not the best choice as a change management sponsor. To ensure the success of your change initiatives, choose a sponsor who understands the importance of communication, engagement, and feedback.

And remember - don't be an Ed.

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