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There are five critical change management plans, but the coaching plan has the greatest impact on moving your organization successfully through the ADKAR Model. 

What is a coaching plan?

Your coaching plan defines how you will support managers and supervisors during the change and how they will interact with front-line employees.  The objective is to fully enable these managers and supervisors to:

  • sponsor the change
  • support their employees during the change
  • support their employees in the new, changed environment

Why is coaching so important?

Coaching is a vital part of successful change management.  Research respondents consistently identify employee and manager resistance as one of the top obstacles to success in Prosci's Best Practices in Change Management report .  The influence that a supervisor or manager has on front-line employees is immeasurable.

Coaching during change management provides a venue for one-on-one and group meetings between employees and the people they trust the most, their immediate supervisors.  This environment allows employees to ask questions and receive clarification about the change and to comment on their specific worries and concerns about change.  It is also an opportunity to gather feedback from the front-line employees about the change and the change management efforts.

The Best Practices in Change Management report provides data showing that employees are most impacted by messages from the CEO/senior leadership (this is addressed in the sponsorship roadmap, one of the 5 change management plans) and their immediate supervisor or manager. Effective coaching can alleviate many of the reasons for resistance and build support for the change throughout the organization.

What are the steps to developing a coaching plan?

1. Enable supervisors and managers to be effective change management coaches

Prepare a change management program and deliver this program to supervisors. Several key areas should be addressed with supervisors:

  • Why is supervisor involvement important in change management?
  • How do I talk with my employees about change?
  • How do I coach my group through a change?
  • How do I coach individual employees through change?
  • What are the expectations for coaching in this project (frequency, timelines, agendas, etc.)?

2. Develop group coaching activities and timeline

Supervisors should prepare for and meet with their groups to discuss the change. Key messages should be provided by the change management team.

Group coaching during a change is an effective medium for distributing information and gathering feedback. It can help to build support for change and ease concern and resistance. It is also an effective method for teaching employees about the ADKAR Model and how to use it as they go through change.

3. Develop individual coaching activities and timeline

Individual coaching sessions are one-on-one opportunities for supervisors and managers to work on change with specific employees. The face-to-face messages received are important as employees work through the change and try to perform in the changed environment.

The ADKAR Model provides managers and supervisors with a tool to effectively coach and manage individuals during change initiatives. The tool helps to determine:

  • At what stage in the change process is each employee?
  • How can I help my employees through the change process?

The ADKAR Model can prevent you from focusing on the wrong things with employees at the wrong time. Each individual will be in different stages of the ADKAR Model. Individual coaching is the process of assessing what stage of the ADKAR Model an employee is experiencing and developing actions to help them move through the change.

Coaching People through change

Increasing your change management impact is something every change management team is looking to do. So often change managers overlook and forget the importance of coaching in our overall change management plan. Coaching is an effective means to create desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement in your front-line employees. Having front-line employees that desire to participate and support the change, have the knowledge on how to change, have the ability to implement required skills and behaviors for the change, and receive the reinforcement to sustain the change are invaluable to the success of a project.


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Written by
Tim Creasey
Tim Creasey

Tim Creasey is Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer and a globally recognized leader in change management. His work forms the foundation of the largest body of knowledge in the world on managing the people side of change to deliver organizational results.