When the people side of an organization is poorly managed or ignored, the company and the project they're undertaking can be compromised in terms of productivity. From this standpoint, effective change management can be a justifiable investment, a cost avoidance technique, and a risk mitigation tactic.

Facilitating Change through the Prosci ADKAR Model

A clear vision or an effectively-designed solution to an organizational unease will not produce a successful change. Instead, it's rooted in something even simpler - finding how to facilitate change with the organization and the individual.

ADKAR - the acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement - will provide structure and offer tangible guidance to motivate change throughout the company.

And the journey should start with promoting awareness regarding the change.

1: Awareness

Building awareness by sharing the nature of the change and communicating why it is necessary for the organization. While it might seem easy at first, your communication's effectiveness will depend on how your messages have been internalized or received. The following tactics can be employed effectively to ensure the same-

  • Effective communication:

    A productive communication system will begin once you have identified and segmented your audience group. Then, you can start determining a preferred sender and the message they should carry to a specific division.

It's important to allow ample opportunity for two-way communications at the beginning of an awareness-building plan. The channels of doing so may include:

    ❖ Face-to-face or group meeting

    ❖ Project team presentation

    ❖ One-on-one communication, etc.

Helping an individual understand the reason behind the change and create a culture of open sharing of information for the change rationale and increase the 'awareness' of a change.

2: Desire

While awareness can enable a person to understand the value and impact of the future, influencing desire with a carefully-crafted change management strategy can both -

  • Leverage the leaders' influence in the organization
  • Match the personal motivator of an impacted group of people Nonetheless, there are some underlying factors that may affect an individual's level of desire. The following are a few of them -
  • The personal situation of an employee (it may include - their financial security, career aspirations, etc.)
  • The nature of an organizational change and WIIFM (what's in it for me?)
  • The contextual aspect of the business (including - the direction of the company, saturation of the change, and the track record of previous changes)
Similar to building awareness, it's possible to influence everyone's decision to embrace the collective desire. The following tactics can be beneficial to this agenda -
  • The Role of a People Manager: An effective manager can create opportunities to influence the 'desire' by openly discussing the change. They can also listen to the people who want to be heard and talk to the organization head to solve their problems

  • Anticipating Resistance and Assessing Risks: Bringing an organizational change, in most cases, gets thwarted by resistance. Hence, assessing it before implementing the change can help a company mitigate potential risks and problems. It can be done by -
  • Letting the employees participate in the change directly. You can either involve them in the process of creating a resolution to the change or ask them to evaluate the corresponding solution accordingly.
  • Aligning an incentive program and rewarding your employees when they successfully complete a task can make them feel valued and appreciated. It can motivate them and foster the desire to welcome the change.

3: Knowledge

The third element of the ADKAR Model - knowledge - represents the training, education, and information required to know 'how to change.' The 'knowledge' that each impacted individual requires may include the following -

  • Skills and behaviors
  • Roles and responsibilities, and
  • Tools, processes, and systems

There are three factors, which can affect the successful implementation of knowledge in an organization. These are -

  • The Current Level of Employee Knowledge:Implementing a technical change in an organization necessitates every employee to have the same level of understanding and skill.
  • Availability of Resources: The resource-related constraints can include the difficulty of funding a subject matter expert, an instructor, readable materials, etc
The changes your company may be encountering currently are unique to your own. Therefore, it needs to be managed by using more than one strategy. Here are a few of them -
  • Effective Educational Training:Well-designed and professionally-delivered formal education and training programs can be important for building knowledge. Webinars and video programs are some other excellent ways to convey related concepts.
  • One-on-One Coaching: In one-on-one coaching, an instructor can proffer customized education depending on the personal and professional obstacles an employee is facing.

4: Ability

There's a discrete difference between being able to perform a task and knowing how to do it. For example, an individual may understand the mechanics or strategies of running one mile in a minute. However, it'll depend on their physical ability if they can perform it or not. Creating ability is considered to be an individualized process. Hence, naturally, an individual will encounter unique challenges when demonstrating success in applying the knowledge or skill learnt.

Mentioned below are a few of them -

  • Each person has their own set of psychological barriers to conquer. An example is the fear of public speaking, which can prevent an individual from demonstrating their point regarding a subject or a decision.
  • Additionally, a person's intellectual or physical limitation can also decrease their proficiency or speed at which they can develop a new skill. In a working environment, the physical limitations include - manual agility, dexterity, and strength. Conversely, regarding psychological capability, some people can excel in creativity while others are more proficient in research.

The gap in ability and knowledge can be closed down with proper preparation and planning. As per Prosci's benchmarking research, here are some tactics that can be beneficial here -

  • Providing one-on-one coaching to someone with feedback or supervision can improve their ability to demonstrate the results expected and build personal confidence.
  • Practicing performance monitoring can help a leader understand and develop enablers to help remove obstacles or address dependencies.
In addition, creating a feedback loop that continuously identifies and addresses new gaps promotes the culture of embracing progress, not perfection.

5: Reinforcement

Reinforcement in an organization includes any event or action that reinforces and strengthens the change within an organization or individual. Even though it's the final element of Prosci's ADKAR Model, it should be present and used throughout the entire change process to ensure that your organization’s transformation is successful.

There are some specific factors that may impact the success of reinforcement. Here are some of them -

  • The most effective reinforcement strategy should depend on the circumstance and the person. If and when the recipient finds the rewards and recognition meaningful, they'll understandably have a more significant impact on the change.
  • A negative notion and pressure in a work environment can be a potent reinforcement in the wrong direction. For instance, while some employees are taking a step toward supporting the change, others can resist and force everyone else to create a barrier of resistance too.
So, how do you build reinforcement within your organization?
  • Recognizing the meaningful contribution of a person and celebrating their success can be an excellent tactic to reinforce change. An informal or private one-on-one conversation will be even more effective when expressing appreciation.
  • Getting constructive feedback from an employee regarding the change can make them feel important. Simply asking a person about how they're progressing with the change can allow them to identify their pain points and help you address them accordingly.

Managing Change Resistance - A Guide for the Leaders

The problem of the employees' resistance to change is quite a recalcitrant issue a corporation deals with routinely. Hence, if an organization wants to avoid these potential outcomes, curating a plan to mitigate the negative impact of the resistance will be important. Here are five strategies that can be beneficial for you in this aspect -

1: Participate and Enlist Buy-in from the Get-go

Getting all of the employees to participate in the project can help them understand why it's being implemented and contribute to the challenges while being a part of the enablers for the change process. Inviting feedback early in the process and creating roles for their involvement moves the mindset from "THEM'' versus "US".

2: Understanding the Root Cause of the Resistance

Many times, leaders manage change resistance by responding to observable issues, such as -

  • Lower meeting attendance
  • Employee complaints, and
  • Decreased productivity

When the underlying problem of these issues isn't unearthed, the resistance cannot be overcome. Therefore, an organization should start by identifying the likely sources of the problems, view them from a non-judgemental viewpoint, and listen to employees' feedback. Once the barrier has been found, you can offer your employee clear and simple choices. Give a sense of control to them and let them know about the consequences of the options too.

3: Convey the Reason behind the Change

The key here is to deliver a compelling story to capture your employees' attention and leverage the positive emotions and passion surrounding the change.

Describe the future state of your organization to inspire people through your vision. Ensure to include how your employees will be a significant part of this change and how it'll benefit them.

Be genuine and communicate your story with certainty. Use positive language too!

The Summary

Resistance is a natural and spontaneous reaction to change. It can be quite uncomfortable initially and often necessitates a new behavior and mindset. But, with the implementation of Prosci's ADKAR Model and successful change management, it can be solved efficiently.

“The world despises change, but it’s the only thing that can bring progress.”