If you're just beginning to implement change management on a project, it's important to remember that for many people participating, change management is a foreign concept. The effective application of change management principles and tools is itself a change for them. Here's how the ADKAR Model can help.
Maybe you're working with a newly promoted senior leader who has participated in changes but never fulfilled the role of a sponsor. Perhaps some of your project team members are well versed in project management methodologies and tools but have not been exposed to change management. Or maybe the functional managers brought onto the change management team to share insights and expertise from their particular areas have no understanding of change management concepts or tools.
In each of these cases, the individuals are undergoing a change themselves—the change of applying effective change management. Because they are going through the change as individuals, we can use the ADKAR Model to examine the key steps, messages and information required to get change management team members successfully through the personal change (remember, applying effective change management is the change we are talking about).
Any change takes place one individual at a time. Change also takes place sequentially as each individual moves through the phases of the ADKAR Model. The questions, talking points and actions below highlight how you can address the need to apply effective change management in your organization at each stage of the ADKAR Model.
Asking your teams to apply change management first requires making the need for change management concrete. When someone is asked to change the way they do things (i.e., apply change management on your next project), the first response is usually, "Why?"
At the Awareness stage, employees will ask:
"Why is change management necessary and why now?"
"What's wrong with the way we are implementing changes today?"
"What will happen if we don't use change management?"
Talking points and actions you can take to build Awareness:
Desire is typically one of the most difficult phases because it requires individuals to make their own decision. You want to make a compelling case for adopting change management and build on the Awareness created earlier.
When building Desire, employees ask:
"What's in it for me (WIIFM)?"
"What are the benefits of change management for the organization?"
"Why should I get on board?"
Key talking points and actions to build Desire:
Source: Best Practices in Change Management
The key mechanism for creating Knowledge is training. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to address Awareness and Desire first, and attempt to build buy-in by training people. This approach is ineffective. It can create resistance and make adoption more difficult. Make sure that your team has Awareness of the need for change management and a Desire to engage before initiating training.
Questions people have around Knowledge include:
"What skills are involved in implementing change management?"
"How do I obtain these skills?"
Key talking points and actions around Knowledge:
Ability is the fourth stage individuals reach after Awareness, Desire and Knowledge. Once an individual reaches the Ability stage, the team can act on the Knowledge individuals acquired through the change management process.
Questions people ask around Ability include:
"Once I have the Knowledge, will I be able to act on it?"
"What do I do when I have problems or questions?"
Key talking points and actions for growing Ability include:
Changes in large organizations can be temporary if employees revert back to the old way of doing things. If you've identified change management as important to ensuring effective changes in your organization, you cannot risk reverting to the old ways of doing things.
Questions people ask at the Reinforcement stage:
"What happens when we are successful?"
"What is the reward?"
"Will there be smaller rewards along the way to encourage us?"
Some key talking points and actions around Reinforcement include:
The questions, talking points and actions above can help you create the buy-in you need to pursue change management effectively on projects. This information will also help you anticipate and address the common issues that can hold people back during any change. Most importantly, remember that change takes place sequentially. Individuals are unlikely to adopt change effectively if you try to skip over one or more of the stages. By the time you get to training, you want to maximize your investment by imparting knowledge and skills to people who are ready to be there.
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.
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