The ADKAR Model: A Change Management Tool We Can Use Every Day

This year has unfolded with many unexpected changes, and sometimes it can all feel overwhelming. We asked one of our Managers of Change Excellence at L&P to weigh in on the topics of change, uncertainty, and how to move forward.

She said one change management concept that comes to mind can be used both at work and at home – the ADKAR model, which stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. This model originated from Prosci to guide organizational change.

“We can make change easier by applying this model to our own personal experiences, and also reduce those ‘out-of-control’ feelings,” she said.

She gave us a quick look at the model and how we can take bits and pieces of it for our own unique circumstances.

Awareness. First, you must try to understand what any specific change is about – why it’s happening and when, who is involved, and what needs to be done about it.

Desire. Next, you need to have a reason to want to make the change. This can mean looking at what you have to gain, but it can also involve understanding the adverse consequences of not changing. For example, you may consider continuing your education in order to advance your career. But you might alternatively consider the impact on you and your family’s future by not pursuing it (i.e., what might it mean not to pursue a higher salary?).

Knowledge. Learning what you need to know in order to succeed is very important. In business, we typically offer various types of training. You can also ask a more experienced friend or family member for insight, do a little research, or even practice to help you feel some competence or mastery. For example, if you would like to learn how to fish, you might check out some fishing videos and ask a friend or family member with experience for help getting started.

Ability. Ask yourself what you need in order to succeed. Look for enablers and barriers. In the fishing example, some enablers would include fishing gear and access to water. Lack of time or even the wrong bait would be barriers to your success.

Reinforcement. Listen for feedback – which can come in many forms. Also, reward yourself for making your change, whatever it is, and keep in mind that small rewards along the way are usually more effective than a big reward at the end.