How To Lead A Change?

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

[sm_smlts_dropcap color=”red”]C[/sm_smlts_dropcap]hange is difficult. Even if you manage to start a new change with enthusiasm, it often falls apart after the honey moon phase. It’s kind of like setting a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym, and only going once. Promoting a change among a group of people is often the exact same way.

The good news is that there is a little known, but highly effect, roadmap for introducing change called ADKAR, which stands for:

  1. Awareness
  2. Desire
  3. Knowledge
  4. Ability
  5. Reinforcement

Richard Evans recently introduced me to the concept. The concept is not new or excusively his, but something that he had found in a book a few years back that deeply resonated with him because of his extensive background in Training Within Industry (TWI). At a TWI workshop I got to see Richard put the method into practice – using ADKAR in conjunction with the JI Four Step method – and it was extremely effective.

The primary benefit of ADKAR is that it lets the trainer train the trainee with remarkable precision and clarity. The secondary benefit of using ADKAR is that it teaches people to expect change and accept continuous improvement. If companies have the tools to rapidly implement change and best practices, they can massively increase output. And if they can massively increase output because of best practices, that means that they have the availability and expertise to win more contracts.

So, what does ADKAR entail?


Well let’s walk through the change process. There are three groups that we should consider, management, the trainers, and the trainees. Now these three groups may be interrelated in any given organization, but for simplicity sake let’s keep them separate.

A new idea is brought to corporate and after some debate, management decides that they are going to implement it and they identify who is going to need training with this change, and who is going to give the training.

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As soon as this is decided it is important to engage the first step. Management should consult the potential trainers and trainees. Discussing specifically what the change is and how it is going to affect them. This is something that employees really, really, really, appreciate. It also gives them the opportunity to provide feedback to management on the practicality of the new change. When management collaborates with the workforce they create the opportunity for inclusive innovation. The really awesome part about this is that the workforce starts to own the process of change.

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The second step flows smoothly from the awareness and sense of inclusion that the workforce is already beginning to feel. The focus of this step is to explain why the change is being made. People want to know what managements thought process was. If the trainees and trainers know what the end goal is and the factors that were considered, they can also help contribute to the group decision making that leads companies. Management and the trainers should expressly state what the change does for the trainee. After all, the implementation of the change depends on the uptake of the trainees. Once they understand how it benefits them, and the process, people will be willing to put their best effort forward.

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The next thing to do is impart the knowledge that the trainers and trainees are going to need to be successful. When the trainer is training the trainee, the trainer needs to be able to explain the mechanical changes in the process. It is important to remember that showing is not teaching and the trainer should go out of their way to do things like practice repeatedly with the trainee, accentuate key steps, and explain the purpose behind every key step.

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Once the knowledge has been imparted on the trainee it is important for the trainer to check the ability of the trainee, and work patiently with them until the trainee can repeatedly do the task correctly without correction. After this step is completed the trainer should designate someone that the trainee can go to if they need help or are unsure of what to do next.

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This may be the final step, but this is the most important step in the entire list. Change is all well and good, but without reinforcement, it will eventually be abandoned, much like my New Year’s Eve gym membership. People have will do that which they are tested upon. If shift supervisors and management don’t think that a former change is important than they will stop checking if the rest of the work force is doing it. And once they stop checking, it already starts the process of being forgotten. Remember, consistency is the most important aspect of change!
And that is ADKAR; the secret to managing change. It is a bit wordy, so I am going to include a Coles Notes version below that you don’t have to read, but you might want to copy and paste for your own personal use:

A – Awareness. Promote the change by including those affected in the process.
D – Desire. Explain what is in it for the trainee.
K – Knowledge. Impart the specifics of the change, make sure people know what and why.
A – Ability. Check to make sure that the trainee is performing as expected.
R – Reinforce. Without consistency, there is no change!

About the author:

Trevor Brookes

Trevor Brookes

Trevor Brookes is currently working with the Nessis Incorporated. He is responsible for updating the companies social media, generating digital content, and facilitating meetings between clients and sales representatives. Trevor is also a professional actor and has been connected with InVision Artists Talent Management. He has also presented a workshop “Implement TWI in your workplace and improve your company’s efficiency”, organized on November 9, 2016 by Nessis Inc. and ASQ Ottawa. View Trevor’s full profile at Linkedin.

This article and images have been produced with permission. Title picture is not associated with the original writing.


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