Sponsorship Guide

Steward: Cassandra Sturk 

Click here to download a PDF version of this document.

What is a sponsor? Essentially, it is a coach and guide for new Ian Martin Group hires. The Sponsor is accountable for the Sponsee during the first 3 months of their employment. It is the Sponsor’s responsibility and primary goal to help the Sponsee be successful, and if they are not, to make a final decision to let the Sponsee go. This guide provides all the details necessary to Sponsor successfully.

The Basics

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark”

– Whoopi Goldberg

At Ian Martin, we have an opportunity to do exactly that, to throw torches out and lead people through the dark. As a Sponsor, you’ll be able to grow leaders within the company, create a welcoming environment for New Hires (Sponsees) and help people better themselves. Sponsorship is a key role within our organization and not only a large step for your development and growth, but also your Sponsees.

If you’re reading this document, you’re probably about to be a Sponsor. Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this document, you’ll find all the resources you need to be the best Sponsor for your Sponsee.

The Sponsor is accountable for the Sponsee and acts as the guide. The Sponsor coaches and guides a Sponsee through the first three months of their employment at Ian Martin. It’s best if they are in the same working group so they can see each other’s work and behaviour. Your primary goal is to help the Sponsee be successful, and if they are not, to make a final decision to let the Sponsee go.

Over the Sponsorship period, you should be providing your feedback and encourage others to give feedback to the Sponsee.

TIP: Recording your feedback will be helpful in case things don’t work out. We’d encourage you to ask your Sponsee to send a follow-up email after difficult feedback is received to demonstrate that they understand. Alternatively, you can send a summary to the Sponsee yourself.

There are 4 main responsibilities that are critical in your role:

  • Assessing, Gathering Input and Deciding
  • Guiding and Ensuring Learning
  • Mining and Probing
  • Addressing and Encouraging

You can find more details on these four foundations in “The Role of the Sponsor” section.

It’s also important to note and communicate that the Sponsee does not have full access to the freedoms that come with our Common Practices until they have completed their Provisional Period with the Common Practices Discussion. 

Ask a question in response to the presentation of an issue, or about a problem to resolve or a proposal put forward (e.g., What opportunities do YOU see for making progress on this challenge? How would you handle this situation? What ideas or actions do you recommend?)

What does it mean to be a sponsor?

By now you can probably tell that being a Sponsor plays a critical role within Ian Martin. One way to think about this is the “Ian Martin credit card analogy”:

Let’s say the Provisional Period is like giving the Sponsee a $500 credit card. The Sponsee is paying for it but you’re going to watch and ensure responsible purchases are made. If at the end of the three months, you believe the Sponsee is making responsible decisions and paying off their credit card, then they’ll receive the Ian Martin deluxe credit card, allowing them to make decisions at Ian Martin.

If the Sponsee is irresponsible with their credit card, it’s the Sponsor’s responsibility to take it away.

Think of this analogy like sponsorship at Ian Martin. If your Sponsee is making responsible decisions within the Provisional Period, they will complete their Common Practices Discussion and move into full freedom and responsibility. If they are not, the Sponsor makes the final decision to let the Sponsee go.

The Role of the Sponsor

It’s the Sponsor’s role to ensure that the Sponsee is set up for success in both their job performance and in their understanding and practice of our Purpose, Values, and Common Practices. This is an important responsibility that will require an emotional investment and will take a bunch of time.

There are four main areas of responsibility that the Sponsor will own during the three months of the Sponsee’s introduction to Ian Martin Group.

  1. Assessing, Getting Input & Deciding

  • Throughout the three-month period actively assess job/culture fit and solicit input about the Sponsee from people on the team, Ian Martin, customers, etc. and provide feedback and coaching (or encourage others to provide it to them).
  • The Sponsee should always understand how they’re doing, and whether they will be continuing beyond the three months.
  • At the 8 week mark, you will have to determine whether or not your Sponsee is moving forward. If they are moving forward, schedule the Common Practices Discussion with your Sponsee and two other members from the team for the last day of the provisional period. You can find more about this in the Common Practices Discussion section (page. 6) 
  1. Guiding & Ensuring Learning

  • Setup and lead them through the Trello board (the Onboarding Stewards can help you set this up) and the Teal Site (ianmartin.com)
    • The Trello board lists all the practical stuff you have to do before the New Hire starts.
  • Check-in regularly on whether they have gaps in their learning and are making appropriate progress.
  • Proactively play the guide role and teach or model practices as necessary.
  • Please note, the Sponsee does not have full access to the freedoms that come with our common practices until they have completed their Provisional Period with the Common Practices Discussion.
  1. Mining & Probing

  • Mine for opportunities for the Sponsee to adopt the Common Practices.
  • Probe for questions, challenges, issues in their job, relationships or Common Practices adoption.
  • Dig deeper beyond the surface answers to the insights and growth opportunities.
  • Give them an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and be a mirror or sounding board.
  1. Addressing & Encouraging

  • Hold them accountable for using the Common Practices to address every problem/opportunity they encounter – either by taking some direct action, or deciding to let it rest. Encourage them to provide feedback and help them use the SBI model to do it without judgement, focusing on their own feelings and reactions and not believing those to be objective truths about the other person.
  • Providing feedback to them, and helping them to model effective ‘receiving/inviting feedback’ behaviours.

Tools for Success

You’ll work with the Sponsee to learn and apply the Common Practices. These are the elements of the Teal O/S – Feedback Practice, Resolution Practice, Role Advice Process and Sensing & Responding.

What will this look like? Show the Sponsee the resources, help them understand the material, and encourage them to put their knowledge into practice.

The Sponsee should have every opportunity to learn and reinforce this material until it becomes second nature. For ideas on how to do this, please see below for useful tools.

Common Practices

  • Giving & receiving feedback – practicing this early and often is a great tool to help the Sponsee develop
  • Try practicing one other common practice

Weekly 1 on 1 meetings with Sponsors

  • Check-in and probe, help the Sponsee to surface their fears & concerns, and help them with their self-awareness
  • When they’re ready, encourage the Sponsee to bring a list of questions and topics to discuss
  • Ask what was the best and worst thing that happened that week

Monthly group meetings with other Sponsees which includes:

  • We hold monthly group meetings to have discussions about what Sponsees have practiced in the past month and what they would like to attempt in the coming month. Feel free to collaborate with the onboarding stewards to get your Sponsee on the invitations.
  • Discussions about what’s going well and what’s been a challenge
  • Specialists come to talk about Common Practices and encourage them to practice


  • Help the Sponsee understand the playbook (found on the Teal Site: ianmartin.com)
  • Show the Sponsee where to access onboarding resources (Trello, Teal Site or T-Lab Teams)
  • Sponsorship Checklist included in Sponsorship Guide
  • Additional Resources page included in Sponsorship Guide
  • Onboarding Stewards – We will check-in regularly and make sure you are supported

What Happens at 3 Months?

The Sponsor is responsible to run an Advice Process for whether or not the Sponsee will continue working at Ian Martin Group beyond their first three months. Consult those who work closely with the Sponsee and gather feedback prior to making your decision.

If you decide the Sponsee should not stay past their three months, the Sponsee should NOT have the Common Practices Discussion.

It’s not a fun surprise for the Sponsee to find out at three months they will not be staying, so make sure your Sponsee receives regular feedback about their progress and where they stand at all times.

What is the Common Practices Discussion?

The Common Practices Discussion is an in-depth interview with the Sponsor and usually two other Ian Martin members. It happens at the end of the Provisional Period (three months) and is the last door to pass through to full-time, permanent employment.

Based on feedback of the Sponsee’s work within their Provisional Period here, the team will have a discussion with the Sponsee about their first three months, their work and culture contribution and potential. You’ll dig into the Sponsee’s triumphs and challenges, where they may struggle, and how they can contribute to Ian Martin going forward.

The purpose of the Common Practices Discussion is to ensure the Sponsee:

  1. Has learned and understood the Common Practices.
  2. Commits to using the Common Practices to manage themselves, their work, and their relationships in the company.
  3. Accepts responsibility for their own actions, impact(s), engagement, and contribution(s) to the success of others and to the business going forward (in exchange for full access to the freedoms offered by the Common Practices).

It can be a vulnerable, interesting, and long discussion. And at the end, a decision will follow about the Sponsee’s readiness to continue in a permanent role with full access to the Common Practices.

We recommend celebrating with a team lunch or treats brought into the office where the Sponsee can share their journey thus far.

Common Practice Discussion Questions

The following questions are prepared under the 3 Playbook values we hold at Ian Martin. Please note that this is a framework for the Common Practices Discussion, if needed, feel free to add questions as you see fit. Ask 2-3 questions per section.


  • How would you describe your first few months working at Ian Martin?
  • What are you most excited about doing, as a part of this job? Least excited about?
  • What do you think are the core competencies for this position? Why do you think you will continue to excel?
  • How would you like to develop/grow? What else do you aspire to add to your current role?
  • If you didn’t work out in this role, why would that be?


  • Tell us about a time that you stretched outside your comfort zone to be open and vulnerable.
  • In what ways are you not yourself at work today that you would like to open up to here?
  • In what ways do you want to become a more self-actualized (courageous and vulnerable) person here? How do you want to change? What do you want to learn?
  • How have you and how can you support others on the team to bring their whole selves to work?


  • Purpose has been defined as ‘a boldly acted upon life aim that is both right for you and good for the world’. What do believe is your purpose? What is right for you and right for the world?
  • If we paid you a salary to do anything you wanted to do, what would you do?
  • How do you imagine Ian Martin’s purpose evolving over the next few years?
  • How do you see yourself playing a role in helping develop Ian Martin’s purpose?


  • What are your impressions of self-organization? What’s most interesting? Most scary?
  • What does responsibility mean to you? What will be the hardest thing to live up to?
  • What do you think of the sensing process? Do you have any inklings on the horizon?
  • What’s your decision-making style? How could that get you into trouble? How can you become a better decision-maker?
  • When have you seen unethical behaviour or had a problem with someone, and chose not to say anything?
  • Tell us about your experience giving and receiving feedback. Do you take feedback well? How could you improve the quantity or quality of your feedback?


After asking the questions above, close off the Common Practices Discussion by congratulating the Sponsee on their completion of their 3 months. Then, post a group picture and make an announcement on Teams. Often times some teams celebrate with treats or going out for a team lunch.

Sponsor Checklist & Timeline

Here’s a checklist that summarizes the main responsibilities for a Sponsor. You’ll also receive a Trello board checklist that helps you keep track of everything online.

Note: If you need help dividing the role of sponsorship, you can utilize a Work Buddy who focuses on job-specific training to support the Sponsee.

If you’re having difficulty with any of the items below or have additional questions regarding the Work Buddy’s role, reach out to your Onboarding Steward for support:

Phase 1 – Getting Started

  • Enter New Hire in BambooHR as soon as the verbal offer is accepted
    [This step initiates the agreement, background check, IT setup, and first day details]
  • Initiate a discussion with Help Desk to confirm the right equipment is ordered and configured
  • Ask the Onboarding Stewards to set up a new Trello board. Personalize the board with job-specific details and a welcome message to the Sponsee
  • Order books for the Sponsee (Brave New Work, illustrated version of Reinventing Organizations and Feedback That Works)
  • Identify and confirm if a Work Buddy is needed. This should be someone who works closely with the Sponsee and is able to support them with job-specific training

Phase 2– Work Preparation

The items below can be taken care of by the Work Buddy.
Alternatively, if there is no one filling that role, it’s ideal to take care of the following 1-2 weeks prior to the Sponsee’s start date:

  • Confirm where the New Hire will be sitting – consider having them sit next to you for this initial period to increase communication and decrease isolation
  • Review the Trello board
  • Optional but highly encouraged:
    • Set up 1-2 week rough plan of what the New Hire should learn and accomplish during their first few weeks
    • Identify what success looks like over the next three months
  • Ensure desk is set up for the first day: note pad, pens, books, sticky notes, highlighters, new books, welcome card, and IT equipment (computer, headset, keyboard, etc.).
  • If needed: ensure help desk can provide access to historical data from the previous
    employee to the New Hire.

Phase 3 – One Week Prior

  • Send a welcome email to New Hire one week prior to start date with the following info:
  • Ian Martin branch address
  • Start date and time
  • Link to Trello board & Teal Site
  • Asking the New Hire not to bring a lunch and make arrangements for their first day
  • Obtain Welcome Card (Hello!) and t-shirt from front desk. Please ensure all team members sign the welcome card.
  • Ensure the team is aware via MS Teams that a New Hire is starting. Include who the Sponsor and Work Buddy are, if relevant.
  • Book first-day lunch reservations and invite team, or those working closely with the Sponsee

TIP: Think of questions to ask New Hire about themselves to engage them in discussion

Phase 4 – First Day

  • Arrange Tarts for Starts or Cookies for Rookies
    (Pick a treat you like and bring it on the Sponsee’s first day. You’ll take the Sponsee around to meet the office, take pictures and then upload on Teams, making an All Company announcement that we have a new start)
  • Attend First Day Lunch
  • Meet 1:1 and get to know your Sponsee. Some things to discuss:
    • Identify how often they’d like to meet (weekly, bi-weekly etc.)
    • Ask how best you can support them
    • Ensure that nothing is missing on their first day (technology is working correctly, onboarding was complete etc.)

Phase 5 – Schedule & Plan Weekly 1-1 Meetings: Outline Suggestion

  • Sponsee Trello Board & Teal Site: Review and discuss progress
  • Icebreakers – Use 2-3 questions, both Sponsor and Sponsee can answer and share (find reference material on Sponsor Trello Board
  • Probing Questions:
    • JDS Q’s – Ask the Sponsor questions about their Job, Development and info about S As the Sponsorship moves forward, the Sponsor can also share.
    • Feedback Opportunities
    • Pick a few other Probing Q’s on the list (find reference list in Sponsor Trello Board) and continue to explore

Phase 6 – Three Months Later 

  • Ensure you are collecting and sharing feedback from the team to the Sponsee
  • Arrange the Common Practices Discussion and invite other members. Ideally, it is the Sponsee’s decision as to who they would like apart of their discussion.
  • Consider a three-month ceremony for successful completion and the last door to full access to the Common Practices! This milestone can be personalized (this could be a lunch, treats bought in etc. with a post on MS Teams).
  • Obtain ‘Congratulations!’ card from Front desk