In the 2018 Prosci Best Practices in Change Management Bench Marking Report, 34 per cent of respondents said they felt their organisations adequately prepared frontline managers and supervisors to lead their teams through change. This leaves 66 per cent unprepared.
Frontline managers need to play five key roles when leading change.
Communicator. Employees look to their line manager during times of change. They want to hear from them about the change and how it will impact them.
Advocate. Organisations need front line managers to advocate for the change and champion the change with their teams. Organisations need to get them onboard with the change first and prepare them for their role.
Coach. This is key throughout the entire change process. Managers need to help employees understand the required behaviour change, listen to concerns, answer questions, and articulate how staff contributions support the change.
Project team liaison. This enables their team members to have their needs and feedback considered in the solution design. It also ensures two-way communication.
Resistance spotter. Line managers are in the best place to both identify resistance and to mitigate resistance in its early stages. They're able to understand the root cause of resistance, and remove barriers. Managers need to be able to have difficult conversations with employees that may increase their willingness to participate in the change.
Of course the balancing act lies in organisations needing managers to continue their usual role and responsibilities.
If an organisation builds change management capabilities within their managers it becomes part of their "business as usual role" rather than an add on.
Developing change management capability in frontline managers takes time but it is an essential part of an organisation's path to change management maturity.
Lenore Miller is a Hunter-based change management practitioner and an employee engagement and capability expert.