These days the theme of organisational life is change. Your teams are constantly subject to alterations and shifting priorities in working methods, market forces, staffing structures, etc. Of course, you too are subject to all of this. However, as the manager or executive, your role is to think positive and find a way through change; for both you and your people. If, as is often said these days, your people are you biggest asset then it makes sense to have their interests at the heart of any major change programme.

So, how will they react to the latest initiative? Will they be ‘thinking positive’? Well, as we saw in last week’s article, “Working through Change”, the answer is: possibly not. People’s individual reactions to workplace changes tend to go through a number of stages: Denial, Resistance, Exploration and Integration. The first two in particular can result in negative behaviour and your job is to help your people through these stages as smoothly as possible.

The ADKAR model can help you help your teams; it can also provide an objective approach to change management that can keep you positive when dealing with their emotional responses. The ADKAR model was developed by Prosci, an American business research consultancy, following studies of over 700 organisations around the world. The model offers five key stages for managing organisational changes: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. When looking ahead and planning your change strategy, the model can be used as follows:

  1. Awareness of why the change is needed. List all the reasons for the change; Why is the ‘old way’ no longer appropriate? Why is the ‘new way’ better? And so on. Now, how many of your people are aware of these reasons? Only when you can answer, “more than 50%” should you move on to…
  2. Desire to support and engage with the change. List all the factors that will motivate your people to change; both the positive factors that pull them towards the ‘new way’ and the negative factors that push them away from the ‘old way’. Rate your people’s level of motivation; again, at least 50% is needed before moving on to…
  3. Knowledge of how to change. List the skills and knowledge needed to successfully change (including the knowledge of what the change involves) and rate your people’s knowledge and training in these areas. 50+%? Then go to…
  4. Ability to perform the change. Consider the skills and knowledge you have listed. Now rate your people’s ability to apply and use these skills and knowledge. Once you have more than 50%…
  5. Reinforcement to maintain the change. What measures are in place to ensure the change is permanent? What incentives are in place? Rate their effectiveness in supporting the change. 50% or more?

So, that’s the ADKAR model. Why not think positive and apply it to a significant change you are managing in your organisation?