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CDOT’s Managers and Supervisors Are Critical in Order to Realize the Benefits of Change

By Michael AveryProcess Improvement Intern
May 17, 2018

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Managers and supervisors do a lot of the heavy lifting of change management work. Change can elicit fear and anxiety in the workplace. Employees experiencing these reactions to change is common because change can affect someone’s future state. Managers and supervisors shouldn’t be surprised by resistance, but instead should expect resistance to change. Impending change requires the managers to be proactive in communicating what differences are on the horizon and how the change will affect their jobs.

Managers and supervisors can be the biggest supporters of change, but also the biggest opponents. It is imperative the managers and supervisors first adopt the change personally before they lead their employees through change. According to best practices in change management, managers and supervisors are the preferred senders of ‘how does this change impact me’ type messages for front-line employees. They are the closest to the front line employees who need to adopt the new processes and behaviors caused by change. Managers and supervisors can be very influential because:

  • Employees trust them
  • They are closest to the action
  • They mitigate resistance
  • They build support for the change


awareness of the need for change
desire to support the change
knowledge of how to change
ability to demonstrate skills & behaviors
reinforcement to make the change stick

To help influence the change in their employees, managers and supervisors must switch between their various hats/roles to sway their employees. The five primary roles that managers and supervisors fulfill change include:

  1. Being an effective Communicator, for the reasons for the change. Change management must be personal in that the employee wants to know ‘What’s in it for me’ (WIIFM).
  2. Must act as a Liaison. Specifically, maintaining a conversation and sharing information between their employees and the project team, as needed.
  3. Must be a strong Advocate for change through your own adoption of the change and then supporting your employees through that change.
  4. The proactive Resistance Manager should expect resistance, identify the barriers and help their employees overcome resistance in a positive way. Never underestimate the power of ‘comfort’ with how things are today!
  5. Be an active Coach for employees. Assess individual and group activities against the ADKAR Model to develop action plans and to begin coaching your employees through the change.

Each of the CLARC roles (Communicator, Liaison, Advocate, Resistance Manager, and Coach) drives individual change through Prosci’s research-based the ADKAR Model ( The model represents the five elements of change that must be achieved for the change to be successful; Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) depends on their managers and supervisors to support their change initiatives. To support their CLARC roles, CDOT’s Office of Process Improvement (OPI) provides every manager and supervisor at CDOT access to a Change Agent (CA). Through the  Change Agent Network (CAN) all of CDOT’s managers and supervisors have a direct way to have 2-way conversations with project teams about the changes occurring. Additionally, OPI has a lofty goal of 100% participation of managers and supervisors attending the 1 Day Change Management Course for Managers and Supervisors. At CDOT everyone plays a role in change and the manager and supervisor role is vital for each of the changes happening at CDOT to be successful!  

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT?
Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hub on our Intranet!

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