After months of planning, preparation, and building, you have created a beautiful solution. A solution designed to improve productivity and remove manual, laborious tasks from your colleague’s day. You know that it will genuinely have a positive impact on their day-to-day role… if only they would use it.

If you have ever ran into challenges around the adoption and acceptance of new solutions and processes, then change management and the ADKAR model could be the solution.

Whenever you introduce something new, be it an intranet, a CRM, a process, a new colleague, it means change. And whilst change may be the best thing, for those impacted, if they weren’t consulted, or if they didn’t ask for the support then they may be slow, to accept or adopt it. Change is about people. And to ensure the success of any change, it’s vital to include the people that will be impacted at the earliest stages of planning. Waiting till your ready to launch a solution, can create several problems.

What is Change Management?

Change management is the discipline that guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change. It focuses on individual members of your team, as we recognise the vital role of each person in driving organisational success and outcomes.

Whilst all changes are unique and all individuals are unique, research shows there are actions we can take to influence people in their individual transitions. Change management provides a structured approach for supporting the individuals in your organisation to move from their own current states to their own future states.

Our approach to change management is based on the ADKAR model, developed by PROSCI. ADKAR is an acronym, that stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. It is a stairstep framework to prepare people for change. Meaning that you must increase awareness, before moving on to building a desire for change. The reason being, that without awareness of a challenge or a better way, why would anyone desire change?

Below we provide a high-level overview of each element of the ADKAR model:

Awareness

People cannot prepare for change unless they know that it’s coming. Awareness is about helping those impacted understand both the need for change, and the risk of not making the change if that is applicable. Both from a company perspective and an individual’s perspective.

Building awareness is a process. It could take multiple events, or messages to ensure each individual impacted by the change receives and internalises the message. Or better yet, a mixture of two as people take in information differently so providing the message of new changes in different formats may improve awareness among different functions.

Desire

Once people become aware of the change, the next step is to build desire or excitement. Desire is about increasing support and encouraging each individual to perform the change. Whether or not a person desires change ultimately comes down to them, meaning it’s vital to understand the motivating factors that would encourage them to support a change. Once these are understood you can work to communicate these factors to generate energy and momentum to support the change.

For example, a sales associate might not share the company’s desire to update the CRM, they might be reluctant to learn a new system when what they have been using historically has worked for them. Here you could host a workshop on how the new system will benefit sales, e.g in Dynamics 365 you have a clear view of your clients, the communication you have shared, and can message or call them directly from the platform, saving your salespeople valuable time.

By taking the time to showcase the benefits of a change to the employees that will be using it, greatly increases the likelihood that they will support the change. You need to understand the motivations of your team, and brand the change in a way that will garner support and increase adoption.

Knowledge

Once you have built the desire for a change, and you have built a buzz around a new technology, process, etc. Your people will want to know “how” to change. Or in other words, they will be looking for knowledge of how to transition to and operate in, the future state.

Whilst training is a key part of the knowledge state it isn’t the only tool in a change manager’s toolbox. Other ways to provide knowledge is to offer one-to-one coaching, user groups, job aids, forums, team channels for support and additional queries and even to have them take part in a “beta” program, where they get to test the solution and request changes that will improve the solution before its full deployment.

Ability

How many people do you know that have awareness of a certain sport, have a desire to engage in it, have an in-depth knowledge of the rules, yet have zero ability to play it well? The same goes for the ability aspect of the ADKAR Model. Ability here is “the demonstrated capability to implement the change at the desired performance level. Ability is about implementing the required skills and behaviour to accomplish change.

That means working with your people throughout a deployment to ensure they have everything they need to utilise a new solution to the best of their ability. It’s retraining where necessary, it’s investing time, it’s listening to the individual and understanding what they need.

Reinforcement

Reinforcement is all about sustaining the change after you it has been implemented. If you don’t continue to reinforce the change after deployment you risk losing all the momentum you gained prior to and during implementation. You risk people slipping back into old habits and all of your hard work being for naught.

Strategies you can utilise for reinforcement, can be rewards and recognition, celebrating product or technology champions or heroes, audits of solutions to identify training gaps, requesting employee feedback via surveys of group discussions, etc.

It can be an easy step to overlook when implementing new solutions, sometimes upon project completion, there can be a tendency to step back and pat ourselves on the back but remember, once you implement a change the project isn’t over. In fact, if the people that need to use it don’t have the awareness, desire, knowledge, or ability to utilise it, it’s unlikely to be adopted and that project won’t be viewed as a success.

If you are in the early stages of a project and are looking to implement successful long-term changes, then we can help. Our team has worked on countless projects across the Microsoft Technology Suite and are there to support you, and the individuals that make up your business throughout a change initiative. To find out more about the change management services we offer you can read more here, or get in touch with one of our consultants to learn more here.