Ghost Sponsors: Is the Sponsor for Your Change Project Missing in Action?
Kate Sikerbol, Queen’s IRC Facilitator, 2018
George was sitting quietly at the back of the room when he suddenly came to life. “But you don’t understand. All this talk about getting ‘sponsors’ on board is all well and good, but what do you do when your sponsor is basically invisible?” A roomful of participants nodded in agreement as George continued. “We can’t get sponsors to show up at meetings, they won’t make decisions that affect the project, they don’t allocate the resources we need. They might as well be ghosts!”
Active and visible support from senior-level sponsors is well-documented in the business literature on change as one of the most important contributors to successful change implementation. Key leaders need to communicate their support of planned organizational change. Clarity of vision, and consistency in word and action are powerful levers that sponsors can use to convince people of the need and urgency for change and to get everyone pulling in the same direction. Yet the experience of many mid-level managers attests to the reality that it can be difficult to engage sponsors and maintain their commitment over the life-cycle of a change initiative.
What can you do when you are challenged by ‘ghost sponsors’ who may be mute, or those who fade in and out of your change project?
4 Steps to Fix a Toxic Workplace
Cathy Sheldrick, Queen’s IRC Marketing Assistant, 2018
How do you fix a hostile workplace after a strike, merger or other polarizing event? How do you create a healthy workplace after a harassment or grievance investigation? It can be difficult to rebuild the trust that has been lost between members of a team or in leadership, or both. But, according to Anne Grant, a Queen’s IRC facilitator and workplace restoration specialist, you have to bring people back to a joint vision of what the workplace should be.
Is Your Workplace Toxic? According to Anne, a toxic or poisoned workplace is a work environment where the work product is being affected by the dysfunction of the members of the team. Some signs and symptoms of a workplace that needs help could be an increase in grievances or sick time; it could be more people quitting or retiring; it could be difficulty in recruiting and retaining talent. But there are also more subtle signs, like apathy among workers or an increase in gossip or bullying.
“We have all kinds of processes for addressing a complaint,” says Anne. “But we don't have as many processes for getting back to an ideal workplace after a complaint or polarizing event like a merger, strike or perhaps a big investigation.” And that’s where a workplace restoration comes in. Whether it is addressing difficulties with management, a group of rogue employees spreading negativity through the office, or an issue that no one ever got around to investigating, a workplace restoration can help re-establish communication and trust in an organization.
I’ve been with the IRC for over fifteen years, and during that time, I’ve had exceptional opportunities to learn from and with colleagues, program participants and organizations across a broad range of industries. These relationships have been integral to the success of the Centre, and to my own professional growth. They are also the foundation of a progressive culture of community and wellbeing in our workplaces.
We work hard at Queen’s IRC to model that culture. Our participants tell us how much they appreciate our personal approach, collegial atmosphere and support beyond the classroom. Our programs are rooted in academic rigour and complemented by our faculty’s professional, real-world experiences, but they are also valued for exceptional networking opportunities, mentorship and shared values for creating positive spaces for growth and collaboration. Our programs are dynamic, relevant and vital for those who want to excel in today’s complex and evolving HR, LR and OD fields.
I’m very excited to embark on my first year as Director, and as I begin my journey, I hope that you are also planning to begin or continue your own path towards personal and professional growth this year.
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