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The "Why" Behind the Five Levers of Change Management


Prosci's 3-Phase Process (Preparing for change, Managing change, Reinforcing change)™ has been around for over a decade. Phase 2 - Managing change is focused on the five levers or plans a change management practitioner creates and integrates into a project plan to support the people side of change. This tutorial looks at the "why" behind each of the five levers. If we understand why, and we leverage best practices in creating each plan, we improve change results and are more likely to deliver intended results and benefit realization in times of change (learn more about Prosci 3-Day Certification for an introduction to the five levers or Prosci Advanced Change Management for a sophisticated examination of the plans in action).


The Five Levers

The five levers created during Phase 2 - Managing change in Prosci's 3-Phase Change Management Process are:

  • Communications plan
  • Sponsor roadmap
  • Coaching plan
  • Training plan
  • Resistance management plan

In the end, each plan is only effective if it helps employees impacted by the change through their own personal transition. The Prosci® ADKAR® Model (read more about ADKAR) describes the five building blocks of successful individual change as Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement®. Each of the five levers uniquely contributes to individuals moving through ADKAR.


Communications plan

The communications plan outlines what information we will share with employees during the change. An effective communications plan shares the right messages, to the right audiences, at the right time and from preferred senders. The communication plan should answer the questions employees have about change, like:

  • Why do we need to change? Why now? What if we don't?
  • Why should I decide to embrace the change? WIIFM?
  • How are we doing? What are the results?

Connecting the communications plan to ADKAR

  Awareness Desire Knowledge Ability Reinforcement
Communications plan    


Sponsor roadmap

The sponsor roadmap details the specific actions we need from senior leaders to fulfill their role as effective sponsors (Prosci's ABCs of sponsorship). The change management practitioner needs to provide guidance and direction, working behind the scenes to make sponsoring change as easy as possible for senior leaders. Sponsorship is critical because:

  • Employees look to sponsors for direction, commitment and vision
  • Employees listen to sponsors for messages about why a change is happening
  • A strong and healthy sponsor coalition is critical to extend and sustain change results

Connecting the sponsor roadmap to ADKAR

  Awareness Desire Knowledge Ability Reinforcement
Sponsor roadmap    


Coaching plan

The coaching plan details how we need managers and supervisors to engage their direct reports during change. Managers are the closest to the employees who ultimately have to bring change to life, and their relationship makes them crucial allies in times of change. Employees look to their managers for answers, support and direction in times of change. Prosci research indicates five specific roles of managers in times of change:

  • Communicator
  • Advocate
  • Coach
  • Resistance Manager
  • Liaison

Connecting the coaching plan to ADKAR

  Awareness Desire Knowledge Ability Reinforcement
Coaching plan


Training plan

The training plan identifies the knowledge needs, knowledge gaps and training requirements for a project or initiative. It inventories the skills required during and after the change occurs. Employees need training in times of change, but that training is only effective if it is preceded by an understanding of why (Awareness) and a decision to change (Desire).

Connecting the training plan to ADKAR

  Awareness Desire Knowledge Ability Reinforcement
Training plan      


Resistance management plan

Human beings resist change; it is our psychological and physiological tendency. The resistance management plan captures the approach to proactively and reactively respond to resistance when it occurs during change. Reactive resistance management is executed by leaders and managers throughout the organization. Proactive resistance management leverage the foresight of the project team to identify:

  • Where resistance is likely to come from
  • What resistance is likely to look like
  • How the root causes for resistance will be mitigated early in the initiative

Connecting the resistance management plan to ADKAR

  Awareness Desire Knowledge Ability Reinforcement
Resistance management plan    


Alignment across the project lifecycle

The tables above mapped each of the five levers to their corresponding ADKAR elements. The image below takes this mapping and presents it in a project view, with ADKAR as the milestones of achievement and "swim lanes" for each of the five change management levers.



Successful change, at its core, occurs when employees who have to change how they do their jobs are adequately prepared, supported, rewarded and sustained. Change management is a holistic process for developing the strategies and plans to support impacted individuals through their own transitions. Each of the five levers identified in the Prosci 3-Phase Process uniquely supports individuals through ADKAR.







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Prosci Change Management Certification

"Amazing: these three days are going to save me
hundreds of hours and help me help my company
realize the benefits they seek."
- Mike C., April 2011 participant

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Chelle, November 2012


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  • Learn the methodology through practical application to your current project
  • Learn from experienced executive instructors
  • Become part of a change management community
  • Earn 2.4 CEUs, 24 PDUs and 23.5 HRCI recertification credits
  • Walk away with products and course materials worth over $1000

Download the certification program brochure

Upcoming sessions:

  • May 20 - 22, 2014: Washington, DC area  FULL
  • May 20 - 22, 2014: San Diego, CA area
  • June 3 - 5, 2014: Washington, DC area
  • June 10 - 12, 2014: Houston, TX area
  • June 10 - 12, 2014: San Francisco, CA area
  • June 17 - 19, 2014: Chicago, IL area  FULL
  • June 17 - 19, 2014: San Diego, CA area
  • June 24 - 26, 2014: Denver, CO area
  • June 24 - 26, 2014: Orlando, FL area
  • July 8 - 10, 2014: Washington, DC area
  • July 8 - 10, 2014: Chicago, IL area
  • July 15 - 17, 2014: Denver, CO area
  • July 22 - 24, 2014: New York, NY area
  • July 22 - 24, 2014: San Francisco, CA area
  • July 29 - 31, 2014: Portland, OR area
  • July 29 - 31, 2014: San Diego, CA area

Visit the certification training page

Email a certification inquiry or call
+1-970-203-9332 to register today.

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"This is the best training that I have ever attended. Now I understand what I need to do when I go back to the office and start to immediately apply what I've learned. Very organized and easy to follow. Great online resource and USB and hard copies."
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"The best training class I have had in years. Goes way beyond the strategy and framework and focuses on real world problems and the tools to solve them."
- Jennifer J., April 2009 participant

"I gained so many skills in such a short amount of time. This training will impact not only my own ability to manage change, but impact our larger organization."
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Offerings for applying Prosci's change management methodologies:


  • Prosci's site licenses are a great solution for building change management capabilities and competencies throughout your organization. With a site license, you can customize and integrate Prosci's world-leading research and methodologies to fit your organization and begin building the individual competencies necessary for true change capability. Contact a Prosci Account Manager at +1-970-203-9332 or to discuss your change management needs and how Prosci's research-based, holistic, easy-to-use solutions can work for you.


  • Change management certification ($2800) - attend Prosci's 3-day certification program where you bring your own current change project to the session and learn to use Prosci's tools through practical application - 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 Pro 2014
  • 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 the Prosci Change Management Methodology, includes templates, checklists and assessments for managing the people side of change (includes USB)
  • Change Management Pilot Pro 2014 ($489) - online tool including the Prosci Change Management Methodology, eLearning modules and downloadable templates, assessments, presentations and checklists
  • Change Management Guide for Managers and Supervisors ($209) - tools to help supervisors engage and coach their direct reports through change
  • 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 ($349 / quantity discounts available) - journal-style report with lessons learned and best practices from 822 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 the Prosci 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



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