Leading a successful change with the ADKAR methodology



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In a constantly changing world, companies must be agile and create a dynamic of change to ensure their sustainability. 


Transforming an organisation is a complex and expensive process.


Beyond the technical specifics, it is essential to consider the human dimension. 



According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, any change experienced, regardless of its nature, involves a form of mourning and can be accompanied by the following emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, resignation (choice), acceptance, integration and finally, action. 



For the affected users to adhere to the change, it must therefore be accompanied and not imposed. 


According to a survey of 85 Project and Program Managers in the @FocusTribes community, 91% believe that the lack of support for change is the main factor in the failure of a process and system harmonization initiative. 


So how do you involve employees in becoming real actors of change? 


The interest of the ADKAR model  

The ADKAR model, initiated by Jeff Hiatt, emphasizes the importance of employee buy-in for any sustainable change within an organization.   


To initiate a transformation, it is therefore necessary to involve each employee individually to ensure the collective success of the project. 


The methodology then allows: 


■ To instill a culture of change in all levels of the company. 

■ Identify the gaps in the change management process and implement corrective actions. 

■ Understand the resistance to change to remedy it. 


The 5 steps of the ADKAR methodology 

ADKAR is the acronym for the 5 key steps to support individual change for the benefit of the organization. 


1. " Awareness" of the need for change 


Users must be involved as soon as possible in the reasons for the change, if possible, at the time of the need gathering: make them understand the what, the why and above all the risk incurred by not changing. 


The project initiators must be able to disseminate the information by choosing the most appropriate channels and by making sure to measure the understanding of the message through concrete indicators. 


2.  Desire to be proactive and to embrace change 


Generating the desire to change is necessary to limit resistance. 


At this stage, the project manager must demonstrate pedagogy and succeed in getting people on board, thanks to his listening, leadership, and assertiveness skills. He must know how to adapt his speech and find the right levers to raise awareness and mobilize employees. 


He must also be attentive to the emotions of the employees and remove their fears to lead them to become real actors of change. 


3. Knowledge to understand what is going to change and how to make that change 


Change is synonymous with upheaval. Naturally, individuals fear the unknown. In companies, it is therefore necessary to accompany employees so that they understand what is expected of them and allow the transition to take place as easily as possible. 


It is essential, at this stage, to identify and formalize the needs in terms of skills, know-how and competencies and to develop a transfer plan. 


4. The ability to orchestrate change daily 


Employees must be supported in developing the knowledge and skills required for the transformation project. 


It is therefore often necessary to implement a skills development plan and to redesign or even establish a training policy. 


5. Reinforcement of actions to sustain the change 


This last step allows the consolidation of the new processes and avoids the resumption of bad habits. It must allow employees to integrate the new practices into their daily lives. To do this, processes must be put in place to measure, encourage, and reward the teams for the changes they have implemented. 


The importance of each step 

The steps presented in this model are sequential and must be completed in order. 


When one of them is missing, the change can result in failure. For example, if a transformation takes place and the employee is not made aware of the need for it, he or she can quickly be lost.   


At the start of the project, it is therefore necessary to focus on communication. 


According to the ADKAR model, for a group or an organization to change, all the people must be committed and have the desire to change, hence the importance of the second step.


Without this, resistance is inevitable.  


In addition, they must feel equipped, prepared and, above all, accompanied so as not to fear change, and the third phase makes this possible.  


Indeed, the implementation of training plans allows to avoid frustrations and to ensure that the knowledge, skills, or know-how to operate the change are correctly transmitted. 


Finally, in the last stage, when no initiative is put in place to reinforce and maintain the change, it cannot be sustainable.  


It is then easy to observe a return to bad habits.  


Therefore, front-line managers need to move individuals through each of the stages, starting with awareness and ending with reinforcement.  


This makes it easier to achieve objectives, respect deadlines and budgets. 



Thus, it is necessary to make change management a priority. 


 According to Procsi: "An initiative with excellent change management is 6 times more likely to achieve its objectives than one with poor or no change management."


A good methodology allows to : 

■ Lay solid foundations to better understand current and future transformations in the company. 

■ Establish a better quality of life at work. Indeed, the new initiatives put in place contribute to improving employee productivity or team cohesion. 

■ To encourage employees to become real actors of change.  


To successfully carry out transformations within organizations, managers or project directors must mobilize a high quality of communication, listening and total transparency with all those involved. They must succeed in motivating and federating teams that believe in it. 


To obtain a better adhesion, the change must be co-constructed and not undergone. It is necessary to involve all the protagonists. 


Thus, the human dimension is the art of any change. 


There are different ways of doing , but approaching change through the ADKAR model helps to limit resistance and rejection factors.


It is the most people-oriented methodology. 


Further reading: 
Harmonisation and standardisation: The opinion of the experts of the tribe
Successful transformation programmes: The essential guide