Making a clear and compelling case for why organisational change is needed

Once a need for organisational change is established it is important to embark on an effective change management approach to get commitment to implement and sustain the necessary changes. This is critical for ensuring achievement of the change objectives and optimal contribution towards high performance or the bottom line.

While there are many models for change, in my experience Prosci’s ADKAR model for change is particularly effective, and has become one of the most widely used approaches for managing the people side of change in organisations across the globe.

The ADKAR model assists organisations plan effectively for a new change or diagnose why a current change is failing. Corrective action can then be taken to ensure that the change is successfully implemented.

The ADKAR * model includes five steps towards achieving sustainable change:

  1. Awareness of the need for change.
  2. Desire to make the change happen.
  3. Knowledge about how to change.
  4. Ability to implement new skills and behaviors.
  5. Reinforcement to sustain the change once it has been made

In this first article I will focus on the first step – awareness – and cover the steps that follow in a blog series that will detail the implications of each step in the change management process.

Understanding why

Understandably before implementing any change, employees will want to understand the reasoning behind a required action or change. In other words they will want a response to the question ‘why’?

Here it is important to distinguish between ‘awareness of the need for change’ versus ‘awareness that a change is happening’. Within the ADKAR model building awareness is defined as sharing both the nature of the change and answering why this change is needed.

An organisation has successfully built awareness when employees are able to confirm that they understand the nature of the change and why the change is needed. This requires that the following factors are explained in detail:

  • The business drivers or opportunities that have resulted in the need for change
  • Why a change is needed now
  • The risk involved in not implementing the change.

The biggest challenge in creating awareness is ensuring employees believe in the rationale behind the required change and trust and agree with the messages they are provided with.

Planning for resistance

Here leaders will need to be aware of factors that may cause resistance and prevent the awareness message from resonating with employees. An effective change management plan will need to include how to deal with any resistance factors that may come up. Examples of such factors include:

  • Lack of credibility of the source or messenger
  • Fear of how the change may impact the individual
  • Disagreement with the reasons for change
  • Rumours or misinformation

Generally speaking by overlooking awareness, projects face much more resistance. This ultimately will impact progress and reduce the ability to achieve the change objectives.

In addition, implementing measures to deal with resistance after it has emerged is much less effective than investing the time and energy to build awareness at the start of the project. So making a clear and compelling case for why the change is needed upfront is critical.

Be sure to follow the blog series. In my next blog I will be tackling the second step – desire -and why it is an important part of the change management process.

Source: Jeff Hiatt’s ADKAR model for change