If you’ve made any new year resolutions this year and have started to find yourself slipping back into your old “2011” habits then you’ll understand how difficult it is to change. Similarly in business it has been well documented that one of the major reasons for failure to deliver successful change initiatives can be attributed to the over-emphasis on process and technology rather than the people.
Change is everywhere you look in business today as organisations continue to seek out new ways to transform themselves and get ahead of the competition at an ever increasing pace. A good organisational change professional can help you navigate through and select the most appropriate tools, methodologies and techniques for your organisation and will assist with your organisations understanding, planning and implementation of the change.
A model developed by research company Prosci, first published in 2003, focuses on five actionable outcomes. These are necessary for successful individual change and therefore successful organisational change and uses the acronym ADKAR which represents:
A – Awareness of the need for change. Once completed the individual will fully understand why the change is necessary.
D – Desire to support and participate in the change. The individual makes a personal decision to support and participate in the change.
K – Knowledge of how to change. This addresses the training and education component of the change so the individual knows how to change and how to perform once the change is completed.
A - Ability to implement the change. This stage supports the actual performance of the individual through practice, coaching and feedback.
R – Reinforcement to sustain the change. The final stage ensures individuals don’t revert back to the old ways of doing things.
In my opinion the key building block of this model is creating, at an individual level, the desire to support and participate in the change. A number of organisations will roll out a standard communication plan and training plan, tick the change management box with the expectation that this will create the necessary desire for the change.
By focusing at the individual level and understanding peoples’ attitude to change you are then able to target and engage the people most affected by different strategies in order to increase their desire to accept the changes being introduced. Your change initiative becomes much more successful with more people making a personal choice to embrace the change.
Some good examples of strategies for creating the desire for change include:
Effective leadership – Empower leadership teams and sponsors with a clear vision of the end state and ensure these messages are communicated effectively – people will follow leaders who are excited and enthusiastic. In my opinion there is no better way to increase an individuals desire to change than through effective leadership.
Communication and participation – Typically, a lot of decisions are made by project managers and leadership teams that can impact individuals outside of the project team. Get them involved early, listen and understand concerns before signing off on decisions that directly affect them. People are more responsive to change if they have been involved with some of the decision making. People will help build what they help to create.
Open and honest from the start – People are smart. The best way to build trust and ensure your change initiative is successful is by being open and honest from the start – if there are going to be roles redeployed or job losses then it is better that you address their fears rather than having them addressed through informal communication channels.
Everybody has a choice – Everybody has a choice during change – and a lot of times individuals need to be made aware of their choices. If they don’t agree with the change or don’t have the desire to change then they can always ‘step off the bus’.
Listen – Ensure communication is two ways. By listening to and understanding objections you are able to provide clarity about the change and address the concerns and objections at an individual level.
Giving employees the opportunity to make a personal decision to support and participate in the change takes time and can’t be done successfully in one meeting – there are a number of different strategies and techniques that can be applied to each unique situation. One technique that will never fail you is sitting down for a coffee with people that are being impacted by the change and asking them ‘how’s it going?’
Paul de Quaasteniet, is a principal consultant of Tomorrow, a New Zealand professional services firm specialising in business transformation. He has worked on a number of change programmes and projects in the UK, the Middle East, Asia and New Zealand.
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