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Change Management Learning Center - managing change library


Change management - the systems and tools for managing change


Scope of change management

To support the change management debate series, the scope of change management and specific change management systems need to be defined. This tutorial provides a summary of each of the main areas for change management based on Prosci's research with more than 400 organizations in the last 5 years.

The purpose of defining these change management areas is to ensure that the debate topics are meaningful both to the panel and to readers. Tools or components of change management include:

  • Change management process
  • Readiness assessments
  • Communication and communication planning
  • Coaching and manager training for change management
  • Training and employee training development
  • Sponsor activities and sponsor roadmaps
  • Resistance management
  • Data collection, feedback analysis and corrective action
  • Celebrating and recognizing success


Change management process

The change management process is the sequence of steps or activities that a change management team or project leader would follow to apply change management to a project or change. Based on Prosci's research of the most effective and commonly applied change, most change management processes contain the following three phases:

Phase 1 - Preparation, assessment and strategy development

Phase 2 - Detailed planning and change management implementation

Phase 3 - Data gathering, corrective action and recognition

These phases result in the following approach as shown below in Figure 1.


process_b.gif (39226 bytes)
Figure 1 - Change Management Process (the Change Management Toolkit
and Change Management Pilot show you how to apply the process))


It is important to note what change management is and what change management is not, as defined by the majority of research participants.

Change management is not a stand-alone process for designing a business solution.

Change management is the processes, tools and techniques for managing the people-side of change.

Change management is not a process improvement method.

Change management is a method for reducing and managing resistance to change when implementing process, technology or organizational change.

Change management is not a stand-alone technique for improving organizational performance.

Change management is a necessary component for any organizational performance improvement process to succeed, including programs like: Six Sigma, Business Process Reengineering, Total Quality Management, Organizational Development, Restructuring and continuous process improvement.

Change management is about managing change to realize business results.


Readiness assessments

Assessments are tools used by a change management team or project leader to assess the organization's readiness to change. Readiness assessments can include organizational assessments, culture and history assessments, employee assessments, sponsor assessments and change assessments. Each tool provides the project team with insights into the challenges and opportunities they may face during the change process.

  • Assess the scope of the change, including: How big is this change? How many people are affected? Is it a gradual or radical change?
  • Assess the readiness of the organization impacted by the change, including: What is the value- system and background of the impacted groups? How much change is already going on? What type of resistance can be expected?
  • Assess the strengths of your change management team.
  • Assess the change sponsors and take the first steps to enable them to effectively lead the change process.


Communication and communication planning

Many managers assume that if they communicate clearly with their employees, their job is done. However, there are many reasons why employees may not hear or understand what their managers are saying the first time around. In fact, you may have heard that messages need to be repeated 6 to 7 times before they are cemented into the minds of employees. That is because each employee’s readiness to hear depends on many factors. Effective communicators carefully consider three components: the audience, what is said and when it is said.

For example, the first step in managing change is building awareness around the need for change and creating a desire among employees. Therefore, initial communications are typically designed to create awareness around the business reasons for change and the risk of not changing. Likewise, at each step in the process, communications should be designed to share the right messages at the right time.

Communication planning, therefore, begins with a careful analysis of the audiences, key messages and the timing for those messages. The change management team or project leaders must design a communication plan that addresses the needs of front-line employees, supervisors and executives. Each audience has particular needs for information based on their role in the implementation of the change.


Coaching and manager training for change management

Supervisors will play a key role in managing change. Ultimately, the direct supervisor has more influence over an employee’s motivation to change than any other person at work. Unfortunately, supervisors as a group can be the most difficult to convince of the need for change and can be a source of resistance. It is vital for the change management team and executive sponsors to gain the support of supervisors and to build change leadership. Individual change management activities should be used to help these supervisors through the change process.

Once managers and supervisors are on board, the change management team must prepare a coaching strategy. They will need to provide training for supervisors including how to use individual change management tools with their employees.


Training and training development

Training is the cornerstone for building knowledge about the change and the required skills. Project team members will develop training requirements based on the skills, knowledge and behaviors necessary to implement the change. These training requirements will be the starting point for the training group or the project team to develop training programs.


Sponsor activities and sponsor roadmaps

Business leaders and executives play a critical sponsor role in change management. The change management team must develop a plan for sponsor activities and help key business leaders carry out these plans. Sponsorship should be viewed as the most important success factor. Avoid confusing the notion of sponsorship with support. The CEO of the company may support your project, but that is not the same as sponsoring your initiative.

Sponsorship involves active and visible participation by senior business leaders throughout the process. Unfortunately many executives do not know what this sponsorship looks like. A change agent's or project leader's role includes helping senior executives do the right things to sponsor the project.


Resistance management

Resistance from employees and managers is normal. Persistent resistance, however, can threaten a project. The change management team needs to identify, understand and manage resistance throughout the organization. Resistance management is the processes and tools used by managers and executives with the support of the project team to manage employee resistance.


Data collection, feedback analysis and corrective action

Employee involvement is a necessary and integral part of managing change. Managing change is not a one way street. Feedback from employees is a key element of the change management process. Analysis and corrective action based on this feedback provides a robust cycle for implementing change.


Celebrating and recognizing success

Early successes and long-term wins must be recognized and celebrated. Individual and group recognition is also a necessary component of change management in order to cement and reinforce the change in the organization.

The final step in the change management process is the after-action review. It is at this point that you can stand back from the entire program, evaluate successes and failures, and identify process changes for the next project. This is part of the ongoing, continuous improvement of change management for your organization and ultimately leads to change competency.



These eight elements comprise the areas or components of a change management program. Along with the change management process, they create a system for managing change. Good project managers apply these components effectively to ensure project success, avoid the loss of valued employees, and minimize the negative impact of the change on productivity and a company's customers. When the debate continues in January, the term change management will refer to this system of processes and tools for managing change.


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Reference 1 - Change Management Toolkit, Prosci, 2003.



Debate Topics

Over the next 12 weeks on a bi-weekly basis, this tutorial series will cover the following topics:

Debate 1: The roles of executives in change management: In this tutorial, we will examine the roles and responsibilities of senior business leaders.

Debate 2: Why manage change: In this tutorial, we will examine benchmarking results and the many different impacts of poorly managed change. Tell us what you think about debate 2.

Debate 3: Guiding principles and keys to managing change: We will look at the principles that every manager or leader involved in managing change should know. Tell us what you think about debate 3.

Debate 4: Individual change management model: This module will look at change management from the perspective of the employee.  Tell us what you think about debate 4.

Debate 5: Organizational change management process: This tutorial examines the organizational change management process and how to use tools throughout your organization to plan for, manage and reinforce change. Tell us what you think about debate 5.

Debate 6: Connecting individual and organizational change: In this tutorial, we talk about the link between individual change management (how each employee experiences change) and organizational change management (the tools and processes you can use to help your employees go through change). Tell us what you think about debate 6.

Debate 7: Building change competency: Change competency is making change "business as usual." Organizations that will lead in the new economy must embrace change and be ready to adapt every day. This tutorial examines what change competency means, and how you can begin to build it in your organization. Tell us what you think about debate 7.


Resource guide

The resources in the table below will be the source of the upcoming tutorial series. For leaders and team members involved in managing a change project, these resources will provide an immediate understanding and tools.

Change Management Toolkit: a comprehensive change management process, includes specific sections on sizing your change management effort, communication planning, training development, sponsor roadmaps, and reinforcing change. Change leaders, consultants and change management team members - get templates, assessments, guidelines, examples and worksheets that help you implement organizational change management
Best Practices in Change Management: 426 companies share experiences in managing change and lessons on how to build great executive sponsorship. The report makes it easy to learn change management best practices and discover the mistakes to avoid leading change. Change leaders, consultants and change management team members - learn what is working for others, what is not, and what mistakes to avoid - includes team and sponsor activity lists. Includes success factors, methodology, role of top management, communications, team structure and more.
Change Management: the People Side of Change: introductory guide to change management -  an excellent primer and catalyst for change leadership with best practices from Prosci's latest research and case studies. Change leaders, executives and managers - learn the 'why,' 'how,' and 'what' of change management. "Change Management is like a driving school for change agents."  This 'quick read' includes the ADKAR model and the Prosci change management process.
Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors: complete with team and individual coaching activities, best practices findings and frequently asked questions. Managers and supervisors - a guide specifically designed for managers and supervisors dealing with change. This tool is ideal for managers who are directly dealing with employees facing change. Use with the Employee's Survival Guide to Change and the Change Management Toolkit.
Employee's Survival Guide to Change: a handbook to help employees survive and thrive during change. Employees facing change - answers frequently asked questions and empowers employees to be effective change agents with the ADKAR model.


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