Deliver successful organisational transformation

 Nov 19, 2014

Today’s post will help anybody in the workplace who is faced with the challenge of changing the thinking, attitude, behaviour, approach, and ultimately, the performance of their employees. First up though, a personal reflection. What always amazes me is the affect the word ‘change’ has on employees. To some employees, the word ‘change’ can bring extreme happiness, yet to other employees the word ‘change’ can bring extreme sadness. What’s even more remarkable and sad to a degree is in most instances, the employees work for the same organisation; work in the same team and in some cases, actually work together. People who have been formally trained in the area of change management, often referred to as ‘change managers’ or ‘change agents,’ understand that truly successful transitions at organisation level are dependent upon truly successful transitions at employee level. Further, they understand the importance of using a proven ‘change model’ to help employees say goodbye to their ‘current’ state and say hello to their ‘future’ state. So the individual Change Model that I want to discuss in this post is the ADKAR model. The ADKAR model is a framework for understanding the dynamics of change at an individual level. For example:
  • Awareness of the need to change
  • Desire to participate and support change
  • Knowledge of how to change, and what the change looks like
  • Ability to implement the change on a day-to-day basis
  • Reinforcement to keep the change in place
Using that understanding as a foundation the ADKAR model can also be expanded to frame the change process within any type of organisation. Let’s explore each of the elements a bit deeper. Awareness As soon as employees become aware of an impending change, they begin to seek answers to explain why the change is needed. The employee may also question what is wrong with the current process or method, and what will happen if they don’t change. The awareness element also includes information about the internal and external drivers responsible for creating the need for change. It is important for the Change Sponsor to communicate the business need for the change, and explain the reason for the change. The risk of not changing must also be communicated. In workplaces with a high degree of autonomy, these communications are critically important, otherwise, there is the potential for resistance to the change. Desire A major misunderstanding by the Change Management Team (CMT) is to assume building awareness for change also builds a desire for the change. Creating desire can be challenging as the CMT has limited control over the choice or choices employees have. If awareness is not accompanied by desire for change, critical resistance to change can occur. To prevent being taken by surprise by this, it is important for the CMT to understand the key factors that influence an individual’s desire to change. Influencing factors include:
  • The nature of the change and the ‘what’s it in for me?’
  • Organisational or environmental context
  • An individual’s personal situation
  • An individual’s intrinsic motivation
Knowledge Knowledge represents how to implement a change. When an employee has an awareness for change and a desire to participate, knowledge is required to realise that change. Influencing factors include:
  • The employee’s current knowledge base
  • The employee’s capability to learn
  • Training and education on the skills and behaviours needed to change
  • Detailed information on how to use the new processes, system(s) and tools
  • Understanding of the new roles and responsibilities associated with the change
Ability Ability is the demonstrated achievement of the change. It is important to understand that obtaining knowledge of a required capability does not automatically result in proficiency. For example, a person that can read and write does not automatically equate to that person being a bestseller author. Influencing factors include:
  • The employee’s psychological blocks, if any
  • The employee’s physical abilities
  • The employee’s intellectual capability
  • Time frame for skill development
  • Resource availability
Reinforcement Reinforcement is any event that strengthens and builds longevity for the change for an employee. This can include recognition, rewards, or different types of celebrations. Including reinforcement as part of the change process helps to ensure ongoing success with regard to the change, and can even increase the capacity for subsequent change. Influencing factors include:
  • Meaningful reinforcements
  • Combine meaningful reinforcements with accomplishment
  • Absence of negative consequences
  • Build in accountability systems
So there you have it, a terrific framework for you to follow when helping your employees navigate their way through change. If you are Manager, Project Manager, Change Agent or Team Leader then integrate the ADKAR model into your change practice then and all of your key change metrics will head north. To learn more about how to better manage workplace change, take a look at New Horizons’ Management and Leadership training programs. Until next time, keep positive, keep happy, and stay forever humble.

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About the Author:

Stan Thomas  

Stan has been working in a professional training capacity for over 15 years and possesses a wealth of knowledge in the areas of adult education gained through both formal study and practical training delivery both nationally and internationally. As the Professional Development Manager for New Horizons Melbourne, Stan is responsible for the delivery, quality control and enhancement of existing and new programs at New Horizons.

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