The crucial role of change assessment data in developing Change Management Sponsors and Change Agents

Posted by Audra Proctor

In the early part of this series on data driven change management we have previously taken a look at:

  1. 5 ways that leveraging big data can transform your approach to delivering successful change management
  2. Why change legacy and change impact are important factors in a data driven change management approach

In this post, we want to turn our attention to how you can use data to assess and develop individuals and groups for their crucial leadership role in the change process. Specifically, we refer here to Change Management Sponsors and Change Agents.

change assessment data

As this HBR article points out, change management is becoming increasingly data driven and there are a number of key traits and behaviors needed for both roles. So that – with the right assessment tools in place – you can quickly identify and prepare the right people for the right roles in your change project.

This is very much the approach we have taken at Changefirst for a number of years now – and the approach has become increasingly powerful through the use of 2 digital assessment tools that are fully integrated into our digital change management platform – namely:

  1. The Sponsor Assessment
  2. The Change Agent Assessment

We will take a more detailed look at both in the following sections.

Why is Sponsorship important?

The Sponsor role is the most crucial during major change because of the formal power they possess.

When sponsorship is weak or diffuse, change can stall or be driven by a more unpredictable political

form of leadership.  In addition, a gap can easily develop between what the Senior Sponsors say they want and how the change intent is interpreted and executed locally by their managers and teams.

Without effective Sponsorship there is:

  • No ultimate accountability for and line of sight to the change benefits
  • No legitimate reason for people to engage in the change
  • No clear sense of commitment to new ways to working
  • No active support for difficult decisions that often need to be taken during major change

So, it is fair to say that they are critical to setting up the change for success, and for getting change over the line. The strength of their commitment to change is a key indicator of the likely success of the project and we know that not all great managers or leaders are great Sponsors. And many will find it difficult to sustain active sponsorship over the course of a change initiative. 

So, in keeping with the focus on this blog series we ask the question - what is the role of data in this process? And can data help them to sustain their effort when you need it most?


How the data from the Sponsor Assessment tool helps drive active Sponsorship

Based on our 20 years plus of Change Management research, Changefirst has developed an assessment tool which enables you to take a data driven approach to your interaction with Change Management Sponsors that:

  • provides education
  • promotes discussion
  • and supports development of active Sponsorship for a particular change project

The Sponsor Assessment tool from Changefirst

With just under 6000 assessments completed (as at October 2019), the Sponsor Assessment is a valuable tool with our client organizations to:

  • help sponsors prepare for their vital role in the change project
  • identify and address gaps in skills and behaviors
  • help create a strong network for sponsors to reinforce and support deployment

This is just one of a set of 11 integrated, multi-lingual diagnostic tools on our Roadmap Pro digital platform, assessing skills and behavior against 12 specific dimensions of high performing change management Sponsors.  

These are outlined in more detail in the following table, with dimensions in bold followed by the associated assessment question.

Sponsor Assessment dimensions and questions

How it works

The assessment is digital and is flexible enough to be used for individual review or as a group survey.

Data captured from people’s responses to the questions is collated and prioritised according to their risk levels:

  • 0 and 29 are low risk
  • 30 and 59 are medium risk
  • 60+ high risk

And suggested actions and tactics to address high risk dimensions are automatically generated for planning purposes.


The Risk Dimensions Analysis in the Sponsor Assessment tool

And because you are working digitially and in an integrated way. All of this can be managed - with a few simple clicks to:

  1. Quickly summarise and report risk data
  2. Edit and add development actions to the change plan
  3. Use benchmarking and data comparisons to validate decisions

The tool is also a “soft” instrument to:

  1. Coach and support leaders with valuable data insights
  2. Request specific behaviors and actions at different stages of the change process
  3. Support change leadership development with leaders

And, although data is key to the process it’s not all about the numbers.

The tool helps you to identify gaps capability and deploy coaching support. It’s also a soft instrument that helps contracting for behavior with Sponsors in your regular updates with them. And it’s a data rich conversation


Extending the same data-driven principles to our Change Agent Assessment

We apply the same discipline and process – using our Change Agent Assessment to help select and prepare Change Agents for their essential role in ensuring that Change Sponsor intentions can be carried out

The crucial role of the Change Agent is to support Sponsor intention, but typically they do not have direct power in the organization. As a result, they typically have to rely on their credibility and ability to influence. So, getting the right type of person in the Change Agent role is also key.

Just like for Sponsors, we have created a data driven assessment which can deployed when recruiting for and developing Change Agents.

Again, the assessment was created out of our own specific research to identify what makes Change Agents effective, and the result is a 12 dimension Change Agent Assessment Tool, which when completed categorizes and identifies key areas of risk – connected to key characteristics which are essential for the role.

Putting data at the heart of everything you do

This entire series is about putting data at the heart of all of your change management initiatives.

By introducing the use of data-driven diagnostic tools, in the recruitment, assessment and development of both sponsor and change agents, you are going to not only increased the chances of change success but also identify gaps for development that allow you to deploy coaching support when it is most needed.

Change Management may be late to the party on using data effectively. However, the introduction of digital platforms like Changefirst’s Roadmap Pro platform makes it quicker and easier to put data front and center in your change management approach.

If you would like to learn more, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion.



Put data at the heart of your change management approach with Roadmap Pro

If ensuring data is at the heart of everything you do in your change management initiatives you might want to take a closer look at our Roadmap Pro digital platform.

Visit our website to learn more and schedule a no-obligation demo.


Tags: Change Agents, Change data, Data Report Series, Change management data, data driven change management, change management analytics, change management sponsor

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