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Originally published 22 July 2009
Click here to read Part 1 of this series, "Starting a Performance Management Initiative from Scratch, Step 1: Create Awareness."
After we have created awareness about what our intention is, we should start taking the first concrete steps toward the realization of our initiative. We are, however, still some distance from taking our first practical steps. Now that we planted the seeds in the minds of our coworkers we need to give them some time to germinate. This is the perfect time to start step 2: finding a sponsor.
Finding a sponsor for your initiative may sound trivial, but the right person in this position can really push your project to the fast track and help keep it on track in the long run. Bear in mind that the sponsor is not the same as the budget; the sponsor is a physical person in your company who will be the champion of your project, the defender of your initiative.
A good sponsor is there to inspire the management when the initiative needs to be put on the agenda, he is there to rally coworkers to join the team and help out. He is there to clear schedules and to underline the importance of this project. He is there to rid you of the annoyances that keep you from the path you set out to follow. Basically, the perfect sponsor is really hard to find.
You are looking for somebody senior (but not too senior to be set in his ways), with a respected position in the company. Somebody who is well liked, but a little feared as well. (This is necessary so he can act as a buffer for annoyances down the line. Everyone believes his key performance indicators (KPIs) are the most important in the whole company, and we will have to draw the line somewhere. Our sponsor will be our gatekeeper for those discussions.
Once you have found a sponsor, make sure he carries out the message everywhere he goes. Credit him for the work he is doing. He is not (just) the guy with the money paying for the project. He needs to be on your side and really believe in the benefits this initiative will bring the company. Take your time to select the right person for the job, it will really pay off and carries more weight than you might imagine.
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