NEW EBOOK!   Accelerate Change Management with a Digital Adoption CoE

Prosci ADKAR Change Management Model – Why and How?

Table of Contents

In today’s hyper-competitive business world, organizations that adapt themselves to change are the ones that grow. Transformation is necessary for any business to deliver feasible solutions to its growing customer base. Given that it is inevitable in the business world, it is wise to try and predict transformations as far as possible.

Changes may be hard or uncomfortable, but with the help of the appropriate management techniques, businesses can overcome them all seamlessly. To achieve successful implementation leverage Change Management Models that could help you achieve your business goals.

Some of the famous theories and models you can explore are:

  • Lewin’s Management Model
  • ADKAR Model
  • The McKinsey 7-S Model
  • Kotter’s theory
  • Nudge theory
  • Bridges’ transition Model

But one of the more popular models in change management is the ADKAR Model, which is what we will be exploring.

What is the ADKAR Model?

ADKAR Change Management Model is a 5-step framework that deals with organizational transformation goals. This methodology was developed in the year 2003 by Jeff Hiatt, the founder of Prosci.

ADKAR is an acronym of Awareness-Desire-Knowledge-Ability-Reinforcement (more on this later)

What is special about the Prosci ADKAR model?

The Prosci ADKAR change management model is one of the most widely known and applied models that focusses on “the people side of change”. It is a step-by-step structured approach that ensures organizational change management.

Here are the Pros:

  • Easy to understand
  • Simple yet powerful framework
  • Outcome-oriented approach
  • Understands human behavior
  • Implements transformation in personal and professional life

Why the Prosci model?

The Prosci Change Management Model is employee-centric and outcome-oriented. It helps to identify the place of resistance and enables transformation by setting clear milestones to be reached throughout your process.

The ADKAR methodology helps in understanding a change process by breaking it into three distinct elements or states.

The 3 states of change in ADKAR

  • Current state
  • Transition state
  • Future state

The name ADKAR takes each of the state into consideration and here’s how:

  • Current state – Awareness and Desire (A & D)
  • Transition state – Knowledge and Ability (K & A)
  • Future state – Reinforcement (R)

Three key takeaways from this figure,

  • To move out of the Current State and into the Transition State, one needs proper Awareness about the present scenario and the Desire to change.
  • In the Transition state, Knowledge on how to transform and the Ability to implement the essential skills is required to move on to the Future State.
  • In the future state, to sustain the transformation of needs Reinforcement.

Now, let us take a look at how the ADKAR methodology should be implemented. 

Create Awareness of the need for change

By implementing the transformation, you are making your employees come out of their comfort zone. None of your employees will be willing to do so unless you make them understand “why” it is essential. The answer to “why” sorts out many problems and builds a better relationship between the management and the employees.

The mantra is simple. Make your employees aware that a change is going to come, and the reason for the same. It means not simply announcing the change but communicating in detail with your employees and addressing the questions that arise.

For example,

  1. What is the nature of transformation?
  2. Why is it happening?
  3. Why now?

Explaining the need for change and addressing such questions well ahead of time will make your employees more likely to accept it.

Obstacles in building awareness:

  • Miscommunication
  • Rumours and gossips
  • Internal debates
  • Employee resistance

To overcome the obstacles and to build awareness – certain things that you must keep in mind are:

  • Make your employees understand the problem
  • Provide clear explanations
  • Enhance 2-way communication
  • Prove them by showing examples
  • Be patient and open-minded
  • Showcase the benefits

Nurture Desire to support the change

Just because your employees are aware that doesn’t mean they are willing to transform. Once awareness is created, we must kindle a desire among your employees.

During this time, two situations might occur:

Situation 1Situation 2
Employees understand the need for change and believe it is highly beneficialEmployees are aware but they are not willing transform
The process will be very easy and smoothIt turns into a kind of toxic situation
You get their complete support and an enthusiastic responseExplain the benefits in detail and foster desire throughout the process until they feel more comfortable

Situation 1 is a direct win. But to overcome situation 2, you must gauge their reactions to identify the level of desire and act accordingly.

With proper explanation about the need and benefits of the change, you can improve desire over some time. Only by creating desire, individuals will engage and support.

Ways to kindle their desire to change:

  • Share some case studies
  • Show them your findings
  • Build commitment
  • Address their concerns
  • Provide an answer for ‘what’s in it for them’?

Develop Knowledge on how to change

The next step in the ADKAR change management methodology is to provide Knowledge to your employees. The more you provide educate them, they are more likely they are to transform. This Knowledge is primarily about training and education that you provide your employees to begin the transition.

In this stage, companies start training their employees to provide the necessary skills. Unfortunately, businesses try to jump-in to this stage directly, bypassing the preceding Awareness and Desire stages. This is not an effective approach as it creates more resistance and increases adoption time.

Certain things that you must answer to your employees at this stage,

  • Why do I need to learn this?
  • What kind of training should I undergo?
  • What are the skills required?
  • How do I obtain those skills?

Companies must understand the two distinct types of knowledge sharing here:

Knowledge 1Knowledge 2
How to changeHow to perform effectively in the near future
Do’s and Don’ts for the transition phaseProvide knowledge on behaviors, responsibilities, skills, and tools needed
Identify knowledge gaps in advanceMonitor the situation and ensure a smooth process

Make sure your employees have proper awareness and also desired to engage, then proceed with your training. This ADKAR change management training will be highly effective and your employees will soon adapt.

Factors that influence knowledge:

  • Current knowledge base
  • Resources available
  • Training methodologies
  • Employee contribution

Ensure Ability to establish skills & behaviors

Ability is the fourth framework of the Prosci ADKAR model.

Now, the action part comes into play. The Ability stage is the practical implementation phase where your employees start applying what they have learned. This phase takes more time to complete based on the performance level of employees.

Before getting into ensuring Ability, we need to understand the difference between knowledge & ability. Though both sound similar, there are several differences between them.

Understanding How to changeKnowing individual capacity to make the change
The risk factor is minimal, as they are not actually doing itThe risk factor is high, one needs to develop adequate skills and make it happen
Comparatively, needs lesser timeTakes longer time depending on individual performance
Example: Understanding how to drive a carExample: Driving the car

Ability is all about an individual demonstrating the process, so you need to help your employees learn new skills and behaviors that are required and put their knowledge into practice.

Things that can be done to ensure ability

  • Train them with experienced people
  • Provide innovative training – leverage digital tools
  • Monitor their performance
  • Hands-on practice
  • Build a 2-way communication
  • Address the pain points and support them

Focus on Reinforcement for long-term success

Reinforcement is the final (fifth) building block of the ADKAR model and it is an ongoing process. If making a change is difficult, then sustaining is 10X more!

Once a change is live and gives the desired outcome, the tendency of management is to “move on”.

Many companies get overwhelmed with the short-term outcomes and will not focus on that transformation any further. You shouldn’t be doing that. Focus on reinforcement must stay strong to sustain and deliver the expected outcomes for the long-term.

As we discussed above, sustaining the process is not easy, what if your employees revert to the old way?

To avoid things going wrong, here are some tips to follow:

  • Give rewards to encourage employees
  • Keep your employees happy and satisfied
  • Monitor and measure their progress
  • Provide incentives for good performers
  • Celebrate successes

Many companies invest a bomb in the first 4 building blocks of the ADKAR cycle (ADKA- Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, and Ability). But without the ‘Reinforce’ stage, your investment is being wasted and the probability of getting the desired outcome diminishes.

Accelerate the change by your support

The Prosci ADKAR model provides an excellent solution for various types of organizational transformation. Nonetheless, to cross each milestone you may require additional support from your employees, leaders, and management. Continued support throughout the process is highly essential.

How Can the ADKAR Model Be Used for Organizational Change?

To apply the ADKAR change management methodology for organizational change, keep in mind the following:

  • Awareness: Communicate effectively and help employees understand the need for change.
  • Desire: Empower and engage employees to support the change and to reduce change resistance.
  • Knowledge: Provide employees all the information and resources to carry out their work once the change is implemented.
  • Ability: Make sure your employees have the ability to work in changing environments.
  • Reinforcement: To make the change stick, the change in processes have to be reinforced with ongoing training and support. Ensure that you provide that to your employees.

In order to accelerate the process leverage Apty, a world-class Digital Adoption Software.

Apty provides guidance in training, onboarding with the help of interactive walkthroughs. Leveraging the Prosci ADKAR model with Apty’s support paves way for successful, sustained change.

Subscribe to our Apty Blog

Join 6000+ monthly readers learning about best practices, solutions, and strategies to drive software adoption

Latest Blogs
Accelerate Organizational Change Management with Apty
Revanth Periyasamy

Revanth Periyasamy

Revanth is a B2B Marketer who has a definite flair for outreach and networking, alongside being a prolific writer. As an author, he enjoys exploring all things related to about digital adoption and transformation. When the 'B2B Marketing ninja' mask is off, Revanth is an ardent tech geek, a lover of road trips and sports enthusiast who plays badminton, cricket or any sport, really!

Want to Learn More?

Subscribe to our Monthly Apty Newsletter to get exclusive content, digital adoption best practices, and more. It will be delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking the button, you agree to our Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy.