Implementing effective change management can be challenging. How do you choose which framework is right for your business? If you’re looking for a change management framework that focuses on the individual’s experience during the change process, ADKAR is your answer. Developed by Jeff Hiatt and his colleagues at Prosci, ADKAR is an acronym representing the five key elements that individuals need to address and navigate successfully for effective change. ADKAR is an acronym for: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. In this article, we will explore this highly respected and widely recognized change management framework.
Awareness is the first step in the ADKAR model. This stage involves making individuals aware of the need for change. They need to understand why the change is happening and the consequences of not changing. This usually involves making sure that people understand what problems the change will address and the benefits it will bring. Awareness helps create a sense of urgency and establishes the context for the change.
Explain the problems or challenges your organization is facing as well as the reasoning behind your chosen solutions. It will be a hard sell if your employees don’t understand the urgency and necessity of the change. Highlight the benefits the change will bring, not only for the business but also for them as employees. It is crucial to show how the change aligns with the company’s mission and goals. Create a safe space for open communication where employees can ask questions and express their concerns. Addressing these concerns helps build trust and credibility.
Desire is the second step in this implementation. After you have created the Awareness, the next step is to build the Desire for change. People must be motivated and willing to embrace the change that you are proposing. This usually involves addressing concerns, engaging key stakeholders, and highlighting the positive aspects of the change.
In this step, you must work to build your employees’ enthusiasm and willingness to adopt and sustain the change. Acknowledge and address any doubts, fears, or resistance to change. Listen to the feedback and provide responses that show respect, empathy, and understanding. Approach all conversations about change with a positive outlook. Emphasize the positive aspects of the change, such as career growth, personal development, or improved work conditions. Help your employees see how the change will improve their day-to-day experience at work.
The following step is Knowledge. In this stage, individuals need the knowledge and skills required to implement the change. You must provide them with that knowledge. This involves providing training and resources to ensure that employees understand how to carry out the new processes or tasks associated with the change.
The training and education you provide should equip your employees with the desired skills and competencies needed for change. Workshops, courses, and mentorships are standard methods of completing this. Lay out clear expectations, set a timeline for accountability, and keep communication open during this process. Lastly, create and share written materials, guidelines, and reference documents to support employees’ learning and understanding. This can provide a silent level of support when leadership is unavailable or they would like additional guidance working independently, further supporting change implementation.
Knowing alone is never enough. That’s where the fourth step of ADKAR comes in. People need the Ability to implement the change successfully at the end of the day. This means you must provide resources, roles, and support to help individuals effectively carry out the change. Your team members need the means to apply their knowledge effectively. This stage is critical in enabling your team to implement the change.
There are three things you need to make available to your change leaders: resources, supportive mentorship, and feedback loops. Ensuring people have access to the necessary tools, technology, and resources to put their knowledge into practice looks different for every company. Take time with your leadership team and key stakeholders to ensure your change leaders have the specific resources they need. Provide support for mentors as they work to help mentees apply their knowledge. Lastly, implement feedback loops. Encourage feedback and continuous improvement throughout the process. Model giving constructive feedback whenever possible. Regularly assess progress and actively address any roadblocks or barriers to completing the implementation.
Reinforcement is the last step in the ADKAR process. This stage involves reinforcing the change to ensure that it becomes a lasting part of the organizational culture. This includes recognizing and rewarding individuals for adopting the change, celebrating successes, and reinforcing the benefits of the change. Recognizing employees for their accomplishments publicly goes a long way, as do meaningful public awards. The more value you can provide, the greater the incentive to adopt the change.
Provide ongoing support and check-ins, even when you feel like the change is fully implemented. Evaluation and monitoring should also take place regularly to assess the effectiveness of the change and the adoption rate. This allows you to ensure that the change is becoming an integral part of the organization’s culture and that your employees don’t revert to old practices.
Support and Involve Your Team
The ADKAR approach is an easy-to-use structured model for change management. Through this process you can help your organization navigate change more effectively while considering the emotional and psychological aspects of the change for the individuals involved. ADKAR focuses on the individual aspects of change, recognizing that successful organizational change depends on the people within the organization embracing and adapting to new ways of working. Take the time to strategize and think through these steps with relevant leadership and key stakeholders to get the buy-in for the plan before implementation. Involve employees as much as possible to create a sense of ownership in the process. Your support and leadership are paramount in implementing ADKAR successfully.