Explore the Levels of Change Management

The Why Behind the Five Levers of Change Management

Written by Tim Creasey

3 Mins



The Prosci 3-Phase Process has been around for over a decade. Phase 2 – Managing Change focuses on the five plans a change management practitioner creates and integrates with a project plan to support the people side of change.

This article looks at the "why" behind each of the five plans. If we understand why, and we leverage best practices in creating each plan, we improve change results. We're also more likely to deliver intended results and benefit realization in times of change.


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The Five Levers

We create five levers (or change management plans) during Phase 2 of the 3-Phase Process:

  • Communications Plan3 Phase Process Short.png
  • 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 move through their own personal transition. In the Prosci ADKAR Model, the five building blocks for successful change are awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. Each of the five levers described above uniquely contributes to individuals as they move through the ADKAR Model and process.

Communications Plan

The Communications Plan outlines what information we share with employees during the change. An effective Communications Plan shares the right messages with the right audiences at the right time and from preferred senders. This plan should answer the questions employees have about change, such as:

  • Why do we need to change? Why now? What if we don't?
  • Why should I decide to embrace the change? What's in it for me?
  • How are we doing? What are the results?

communications plan

Above: Connecting the Communications Plan to the ADKAR Model

Sponsor Roadmap

The Sponsor Roadmap details the specific actions we need from senior leaders to fulfill their roles as effective sponsors. 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


sponsor roadmap

Above: Connecting the Sponsor Roadmap to the ADKAR Model

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 must 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 that there are five specific roles of managers in times of change:

  • Communicator
  • Advocate
  • Coach
  • Resistance Manager
  • Liaison


coaching plan

Above: Connecting the Coaching Plan to the ADKAR Model

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 an understanding of why (awareness) and a decision to change (desire) precedes it.


Training Plan

Above: Connecting the Training Plan to the ADKAR Model

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 leverages the foresight of the project team to identify:

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


Resistance Management Plan

Above: Connecting the Resistance Management Plan to the ADKAR Model

Alignment Across the Project Lifecycle

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



Support People During Change

Successful change, at its core, occurs when employees who must 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 the ADKAR Model, resulting in employees who adopt changes and use solutions that further their organization.