ADKAR Model for Change. Everything You Need to Know.

April 4, 2024
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Across organisations, changes must continuously be made for improvement’s sake. However, the move is often met by pushback on behalf of employees. This is because the difference isn’t always well-communicated or understood at every level within a business. But, it could and should be. As such, there are change management methods like the ADKAR model, which are designed to manage the people aspect of relaying and implementing change throughout an organisation.  

The ADKAR model is one of several that help aligns a business’ people with its process improvement models and change management. Let’s take a look at how you, as a business leader, can effectively implement the ADKAR model in practice to take your team's performance to the next level. 

Download ebook: A New Approach to Process Improvement

Coming Up

1. What is the ADKAR Model?

2. The 5 Building Blocks of the Model 

3. Why It Works/ Foundations 

4. Why Should You Use ADKAR in Your Change Initiatives?

5. The Wrap Up 

What is the ADKAR Model?

In 2003, Jeff Hiatt developed the ADKAR model, which is an acronym that stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. The ADKAR model was made popular by Prosci, a change management consultancy firm. It was developed through a study that was conducted with 900 organisations across 59 countries. 

The goal of the ADKAR model is to offer coaching and support to employees within organisations as changes are being made. 

The 5 Building Blocks of the Model 

The ADKAR model works sequentially by following these steps:

1. Awareness: 

For people to be on board with the change, they need to understand why the change is happening in the first place. This begins with awareness. Since the difference is often outside of one’s comfort zone, there tends to be resistance. Resistance may be displayed in different ways, including:

1. Passive Resistance: Employees may not argue or openly state their opposition. Yet, at the same time, they do not express support. 

2. Regression: Employees continue to slip back into the old way of doing things. 

3. Active Resistance: Although this seems to be the most aggressive and unfavourable form of resistance, it’s the most useful in terms of implementing ADKAR. When employees openly express their lack of desire to adopt change, this opens the door for the opportunity to share why change is necessary. 

2. Desire: 

There’s a big difference for understanding why change must happen versus wanting the change to happen. This is where ambition comes in. For employees to want a change to happen, it’s best to communicate how and why the change will be good for them. For example, a considerable part of business success relies on automation and the advancement of technological innovation within a business. Often, employees feel threatened by automation. However, if you can clearly explain that automation is going to make the lives of your employees easier, then they will more than likely desire such a change. For instance, robotic process automation removes tedious and repetitive tasks so that humans can focus on high-level tasks. 

The best way to handle the desired step is to be communicative and understanding. Employees may be afraid of change, but if you can understand their fears, you can help to defeat them. Additionally, some concerns may seem irrational, but judging anyone’s feeling is unproductive. Instead, it’s helpful to work through why people feel the way they do so you can explain how the new change will be useful rather than harmful. 

3. Knowledge: 

Once a change is to be implemented, it will more than likely require education and training. This is especially true in process improvement. The people who are hands-on to work with processes must understand how to make them happen. 

Automation software and technology help make this possible because they can provide support and systems often outline the process automatically so that users are aware of what is happening behind the scenes. They also offer a method of standardisation across organisations so that anyone, in any given location, would handle the process in the same way. They can help relieve bottlenecks and dependencies on single people so that everyone is equally informed.  

4. Ability:

It pays to make sure that once employees are trained, they do know how to handle the tasks. This is because there’s a difference between understanding the process and doing it themselves. Hands-on training and oversight can go a long way in making a new change stick and succeed. 

5. Reinforcement:

Reinforcement is an ongoing process. It requires collecting feedback and the responsibility of managers to oversee their teams. This is to make sure that the new changes that have been implemented are supporting business goals. 

One way to practice reinforcement and measure changes is through data automation tools. The software can collect data and monitor desired key performance indicators (KPIs) so that upper management can compare the past process to the new method to ensure that it’s an improvement. 

Why It Works/ Foundations 

The ADKAR model is useful because it is inherently based on how humans understand change. The human-centric approach answers three crucial “why” questions, namely:

  • Why do we communicate?
  • Why do we train people?
  • Why do executives need to support change?

The ADKAR model’s foundation is easy to learn and intuitive. It is action-driven and clearly outlines how many people are vital to making change work, which is how organisations are structured. 

Why Should You Use ADKAR in Your Change Initiatives?

A significant reason why initiatives for change fail within organisations is because of the lack of buy-in on behalf of team members. Organisations should continuously strive to enact the best processes and use process improvement to do so. However, it requires that your team is on board. 

With automation being one of the most common and pivotal changes that a business can face, it’s useful to use the ADKAR model in practice. Automation and data analytics help your business operate more efficiently and can lower costs. 

But, to ensure that everyone understands the benefits of automation, you need to communicate the benefits clearly to your team. Automation tools are not meant to replace humans, but rather assist them in helping make their jobs easier. This can all be explained in the Awareness, Desire and Knowledge steps of the ADKAR model. 

Then, you can use software tools to your advantage to make sure that Ability, or proper use, is occurring. Automation tools boost transparency and oversight on behalf of management teams and employees alike. 

Lastly, automation tools can help with positive reinforcement in the form of reports. Employees can see previous and current data that shows how much more efficient processes flow through the help of automation tools. It’s a clear visual representation of improving KPIs that can help to keep employee morale high. 

The ADKAR model helps to ensure successful change management by equipping managers and employees with what they need to make it happen smoothly. With the Reinforcement stage in good order, the change will become the new norm in no time!

Download ebook: A New Approach to Process Improvement

The Wrap Up 

Change management is a process. It requires that top-level management effectively communicates with all tiers of an organisation to make sure everyone is on the same page. By using the ADKAR model, business leaders have a clear 5-step plan to implement change management effectively. 

With digital transformation taking a stronghold in organisations across all industries, it’s essential to make sure that employees are aware of the benefits that automation and technological solutions can provide. With the help of the ADKAR model, you can help make your business better and have everyone on the same page to contribute to your positive changes! 


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