Change Management Learning Center - managing change library

Welcome to the Change Management Tutorial Series

Home   |   Bookstore   |    Training   |  Tutorials   |   Benchmarking  |  Webinars

Email this page to a friend


Five tips for: Developing managers and supervisors as coaches
From the "Five tips" tutorial series

During the summer of 2009, Prosci will be releasing a number of "Five tips" tutorials. These tutorials will provide simple, actionable steps to improving change management application. Each tutorial will focus on a particular element of change management, including:

  • Five tips for: Succeeding in change management
  • Five tips for: Sizing your change management efforts
  • Five tips for: Better communications
  • Five tips for: Managing resistance

This "Five tips" tutorial looks at developing managers and supervisors as coaches of change. The tips come directly from practitioner experience and benchmarking data from Prosci's six benchmarking studies conducted over the last 12 years (Note: the 2009 edition of Best Practices in Change Management will be released in September).


Five tips for: Developing managers and supervisors
as coaches of change

  1. Get them on board with the change
  2. Share the role you expect
  3. Build competencies
  4. Provide tools
  5. Provide support

- Tutorial highlights -

Five tips for: Developing managers and supervisors

  1. Get them on board - managers and supervisors have to go through their own change process before supporting their direct reports
  2. Share the role you expect - at both a high-level and a detailed set of actions
  3. Build competencies - appreciate that "leading change" is a competency that can and must be developed
  4. Provide tools - including individual change models, tip sheets and information for fulfilling roles
  5. Provide support - help managers and supervisors succeed at leading change with peer and expert support


1. Get them on board with the change

The first step in engaging managers and supervisors as leaders of change is getting them on board with the change. A manager must be supportive of a change before he or she can successfully lead direct reports through the change process. From an ADKAR® perspective, this means that managers and supervisors have sufficient Awareness and Desire around the change itself before they begin engaging their direct reports. To achieve this, the change management plan must have specific elements aimed at building support with managers and supervisors.

The communication plan should have a portion focused on managers and supervisors - explaining why the change is happening, the benefits of the change and the nature of the change from the manager's perspective. These communications should start very early in the project life cycle to ensure adequate time before the managers and supervisors are asked to communicate with their reports. In addition to general change messages, specific messages about the role of managers and supervisors and how to lead direct reports should be communicated. Communications should come from preferred senders, in this case the manager's supervisor and leadership. Two-way communications are critical with this group to allow for exchanges and feedback.

Specific sponsorship activities in the overall change management plan should also be focused at the manager and supervisor group. Their leaders, and in some cases the managers themselves, are part of the coalition of leaders needed to drive the change forward.

Finally, resistance management planning should focus on the manager and supervisor group. In Prosci's previous benchmarking studies, the manager and supervisor group was identified as the most resistant to change. Proactive resistance management plans that address the key concerns of managers and supervisors - such as loss of control and workload issues - are required to anticipate and mitigate resistance from managers and supervisors.

From a change management perspective, managers and supervisors should first be treated as a group of employees impacted by the change. The first step to engage this group in their role of leading change is to ensure that they are supportive of the change and that resistance from the group has been managed.


2. Share the role you expect

Sharing what you expect from managers and supervisors occurs at two levels - a high-level expectation about general involvement in times of change and a more detailed set of expectations about the specific roles of managers and supervisors in times of change.

It may seem obvious, but it is important to tell managers and supervisors how important their role is in driving successful change. Participants in the 2009 benchmarking study indicated the importance of manager and supervisor involvement in successful change - with 84% indicating "Extremely important" or "Very important".

Once you have laid the foundation for the important role managers and supervisors play during a change, you can move on to specific expectations about activities.

On the specific roles of managers and supervisors, Prosci's research has identified five primary roles played by a manager or supervisor during change. The five roles that emerged from the 2007 benchmarking effort were:

  1. Communicate with direct reports about the change (Communicator)

  2. Demonstrate support for the change (Advocate)

  3. Coach employees through the change process (Coach)

  4. Engage with and provide support to the project team (Liaison)

  5. Identify and manage resistance (Resistance manager)


3. Build competencies

"Leading change" is a personal competency that managers and supervisors can build. And, the competency is not necessarily natural. It takes a particular set of skills to lead a group of employees through a change process. Many times, there are great managers who struggle in times of change. Appreciating "leading change" as a unique personal competency and working to build that competency in managers and supervisors is a critical step, and one that is often overlooked.

Participants in the 2009 benchmarking study identified "coaching employees through the change process" and "identifying and managing resistance" as the two roles that managers struggle with the most. This is because these two roles typically represent new tasks and challenges, falling beyond the general skill set of many managers and supervisors.

Unfortunately, data also shows that only 40% of study participants provided formal change management training to managers and supervisors.

When "leading change" is recognized as a personal competency that can be built by managers and supervisors, organizations can begin providing training and professional development opportunities for this critical group. In times of change, having managers and supervisors that are also great leaders of change is central to success. Prosci offers a 1-day training program and a self-paced toolkit called the Change Management Guide for Managers. Both offerings take managers first through a process of preparing themselves for change and then on to managing change with their direct reports.


4. Provide tools

Managers and supervisors not only need competencies in leading change, they need tools to help them help their people in times of change. Many times, the tools needed to manage change are different than the normal tools managers are familiar with using.

One of the most important tools you can provide to managers and supervisors is a model for understanding the human reaction to change. ADKAR is Prosci's individual change model and is a very powerful tool to put in the hands of managers and supervisors. By breaking down the change process into a simple and easy-to-use sequence - Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement - ADKAR gives managers and supervisors an approach to understand how their people experience change. The tool is equally powerful for identifying where a change is breaking down. Supervisors who can put ADKAR into action will have more productive discussions, be able to isolate issues and problems, and ultimately be in a better position to support their people though the change process. And, when changes are better managed at the employee-supervisor level, morale and productivity are improved. Read more about the ADKAR model and how it can be used to drive successful change in the book ADKAR: A model for change in business, government and our community.

There are a number of additional tools that should be provided to managers and supervisors as they are engaged as leaders of change, including:

  • Communication packets - Communicator was one of the five roles of managers and supervisors in times of change identified in the research. But what messages need to be communicated? Managers and supervisors should be provided with simple but comprehensive communications packets that contain the project information they are expected to convey to their direct reports.  

  • Resistance management tools and tips - Resistance manager was another of the five roles of managers and supervisors, and the one that research participants identified as needing the most improvement. Tools that help managers and supervisor know what resistance might look like, where it is likely to show up and how to identify root causes of resistance are beneficial. Tips and suggestions for addressing resistance when it does occur in a proactive and effective manner can help managers to engage front-line employees.

  • Guidelines on how to measure performance - Changes are only successful when employees do their work in a different way, as prescribed by the project or change initiative. Managers and supervisors are in the best location to identify if changes are taking hold, and you can provide them with additional tools for understanding if a change is taking hold and if employees are "complying" with the new way of doing their jobs.


5. Provide support

Managers and supervisors will need support when taking on their new "leader of change" role. Some of the tasks and responsibilities that come with being a good coach of employees through change are difficult. In many instances, this is a completely new undertaking for a manager or supervisor. You need to provide outlets and opportunities for support when managers are leading change.

One area of support necessary will be helping them implement the processes and tools you have provided for leading change. Opportunities to try out new approaches for identifying resistance in a safe setting can go a long way in helping managers and supervisors to be successful. Chances to practices "Question and Answer" sessions or delivery of key communication messages will help managers and supervisors to be more comfortable in their role as communicator. Support on these new roles goes beyond classroom learning, and practice is a great form of support.

You also need to tell this group where they can go for support. Resources could include peers who have already used the tools and processes or Subject Matter Experts who can provide guidance. Give managers and supervisors access to others in the organization who can provide suggestions and give feedback on how to coach employees through change.

Becoming a great leader of change is not easy - it involves learning new skills and using new tools to engage direct reports. With effective reinforcement and support available, managers and supervisors can become the ally that project teams need in an ever-changing environment. 







Prosci's Change Management Certification for Managers and Supervisors

Prosci's Change Management Certification for Managers and Supervisors is designed for managers and supervisors who are supporting their employees through change - in many cases, through multiple changes. The program is based on over a decade of research on how to effectively manage the people side of change. The certification program immerses coaches in their role in the change management process, requiring them to use real-life data and real-life changes they are working on at that moment.

In the program, participants will:

  • Identify all the changes underway that impact their group and better understand why these changes are being made
  • Have an opportunity to review these changes and raise any concerns or issues that they might have
  • Learn how to use the ADKAR® Model to coach individual employees through change
  • Develop their own skills and competencies for leading change with their employees

The program follows the change management process for managers shown below which begins with a focus on preparing yourself for change before moving on to the creation of specific activities for leading your direct reports through change:


Prosci's Change Management Process for Managers and Supervisors


Materials: Participants receive a primer on leading change, a copy of the Employee's Survival Guide, a copy of the ADKAR book and a set of ADKAR worksheets.


Agenda for the manager program:

  • Course topic: Understanding the process for leading change

  • Break-out: Group discussion of the changes underway in the organization

  • Course topic: Uncovering the concepts of change management

  • Break-out: Organization and change readiness assessments

  • Course topic: A look at the best practices data

  • Break-out: Research findings analysis and group presentations

  • Course topic: The ADKAR Model

  • Break-out: Personal ADKAR worksheet

  • Course topic: Roles for leading change (communicator, advocate, coach, liaison, and resistance manager)

  • Break-out: Discussion of the communications packet from the project team(s)

  • Break-out: Individual analysis of employee data; development of group and individual coaching plans for managing change

  • Course topic: Resistance management

  • Break-out: Understanding resistance

  • Course topic: 10-steps for managing resistance

  • Break-out: Next steps and action plans


Call Adrienne Boyd at +1-970-203-9332 or email a Prosci analyst to learn more about Prosci's manager program or to schedule your session today.



Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:


  • Change management certification ($2800)- 3-day program where you bring a project you are working on and apply all of the assessments and tools as you learn them - taught by former fortune 500 executives at locations across the US - includes over $1000 in products, including the Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report, the Change Management Toolkit and the Change Management Pilot 2010
  • Train-the-trainer ($3500) - learn how to teach Prosci change management training programs in your organization
  • Onsite training - bring Prosci to your location for 3-day certification programs, 4-6 hour executive briefings, 1-day manager programs or 1-day employee programs - call +1-970-203-9332 for more information

Methodology tools:

  • Change Management Toolkit ($389) - hardcopy 3-ring binder presenting Prosci's change management methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB drive)
  • Change Management Pilot Pro 2010 ($449) - online tool including Prosci's change management methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($189) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change (includes 4 copies of the Employee's Survival Guide)
  • PCT Analyzer ($149/$349) - web-based tool for collecting PCT Assessment data, analyzing results, identifying risks and developing action steps

References and books:

  • Best Practices in Change Management benchmarking report ($289 / quantity discounts available) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 650 participants, presented in an easy-to-use format - reads as a checklist of what to do and what not to do
  • Change Management: the people side of change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - a primer for anyone involved in organizational change that addresses why manage change, individual change management and organizational change management
  • ADKAR: a model for change ($18.95 / quantity discounts available) - the definitive work on Prosci's ADKAR® Model
  • Employee's Survival Guide to Change ($14.95 / quantity discounts available) - a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change, answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to take charge of change



*** Prosci also offers leadership packages - groupings of products at discounts that offer you some of the most helpful and common combinations of Prosci change management resources


Email this page to a friend


Email a Prosci analyst or call 970-203-9332 with questions about the methodology, its application, or finding the right resources to support your change management activities.




*** Register to receive free news announcements and tutorial releases ***



Tutorials | Bookstore | Benchmarking | Articles | Training | Register | Webinars | Resources | Home

Copyright Prosci 1996-2014
Prosci and ADKAR are registered trademarks of Prosci Inc.
Send comments to a Prosci analyst


Contact Prosci
email: Prosci email form
phone: 970-203-9332 or 800-700-2831