ADKAR Change Management

Change Management Best Practices

Implementing change in your organisation isn’t an easy task. Whether you’re a small, medium or enterprise-sized company, shifting your ways of working to adapt for growth can be painful. At OfficeLabs we understand the problems that businesses face in convincing their employees and their clients that any given change is beneficial to them in the long term. However, it is important that all stakeholders buy into that change, otherwise it could be hamstrung before you’ve even started implementing it.

OfficeLabs utilises a change management approach which is based on the Prosci ADKAR® model. As a very basic definition, the ADKAR model understands that all change happens at an individual level. You can’t change an organisation’s thinking without changing the thinking of all individuals within that organisation. As such, the model approaches change from an individual’s point of view – specifically, five key milestones which a person needs to achieve before change can be accepted. These milestones are Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement (ADKAR), and we’ll discuss below how we use ADKAR to push your IT changes forward successfully.  

Awareness 

The first step in any change is the realisation that something has to change. If an individual sees no reason to alter their ways of working, they are likely to be resistant to it. Why fix something that isn’t broken? Building awareness is critical in getting people on board. As individuals, many of your employees might be happy spending hours of their time searching cluttered network drives for countless files and folders. As a leader, you know that this needs to change – for example, by implementing a SharePoint portal to easily store, index and manage your company footprint. Doing so will help make your people more productive, and therefore achieve their daily, weekly and monthly goals quicker. Building awareness sounds tricky but is ultimately – like most things – down to effective communication. Create an awareness team, define the objectives of your project, make a note of any objections to the change and address them, and then recruit people to help implement your vision.

Desire 

Even if individuals are aware of an issue, they may still not have the desire to use whatever change you implement. You could create a wonderful Office 365 environment replete with all of the tools and powerful, time-saving functionality they could possibly want, but until they understand how this will benefit them directly you are likely to face a barrier to adoption. The “What’s in it for me?” effect is prevalent here, and the easiest way to overcome it is to include them in the change from the outset. Recruit their managers as sponsors to enthusiastically reinforce how the change will benefit them on a daily basis. Get their input and address their fears. Realign your incentive scheme to incorporate the change so they can see a tangible benefit in adopting it. Management is key at this milestone – employees look to their leaders for guidance, so a top-down approach to adopting change will help bring them on board much quicker. 

Knowledge 

While the first two milestones address why change is needed, the third one looks at how to change. Knowledge as part of change management can be broadly divided into two categories: knowledge on how to change (including education on skills and behaviours required to support that change), and knowledge on what to do after the change (including training on using the new tools and processes). These should ideally be dealt with separately rather than within one project plan. People adapt differently, learning capabilities are varied, resources for training may be limited and so on; wanting to achieve a goal is half the battle won – knowing how to achieve it is equally important. OfficeLabs can help you with your project management planning to improve overall knowledge; we work to understand your organisation and highlight areas that will need more support than others so that when change comes, everyone knows their role in delivering it successfully. 

Ability  

The fourth step in the ADKAR process is transforming the knowledge your employees have gained into action. They now know how to do something in theory, but are they able to do it? You might have implemented a brilliant system, but without offering the proper guidance on how to make the most of the new functionality, a supportive environment, feedback channels, and even one-to-one coaching for those that are struggling, your change may suffer for months after launch. OfficeLabs offers both IT training and personal development workshops to mitigate any problems before your software rollout is used in earnest. For SharePoint Online we can also help develop Power BI dashboards which give you an at-a-glance overview of what areas of your new portal are being utilised and which need some TLC. Perhaps there’s something stopping your team calendar from being used correctly, or maybe files aren’t being stored in the right location – business intelligence is a powerful tool to provide feedback on the abilities of your employees. 

Reinforcement 

Your project plan is in place and – using the above example – your employees are willing to invest in your new Office 365 environment. But how do you sustain that change and keep them engaged until it’s rolled out and beyond? It’s very easy to slip back into old ways of working so this final milestone is crucial: you need to keep momentum going during the transition and onwards. When an individual successfully progresses towards change, they are more likely to want to continue if it is recognised that they have adapted. If a huge software project is rolled out and no-one takes the time to look at the efforts put in by employees, they may become resistant to using it further. Managers are key again here, delivering positive messages and implementing accountability mechanisms as part of the change management process. Simply put: if you want your staff to keep engaged with the change after implementation, give them a reason for doing so. Set goals and objectives they can monitor and work towards. Celebrate their success, offer rewards and introduce performance management systems and a means of feeding back on the project. Let them tell you what went right, what went wrong, what they’d change – it is far likely that they’ll be open to further changes in the future if you do so. 

OfficeLabs and ADKAR   

OfficeLabs uses the Prosci ADKAR model with all of our clients, on projects large or small. Change management is a critical component of any project, and we want to ensure that your investment in us is successful from the very beginning. As well as Office 365 and SharePoint implementations, we can help with everything from information management to GDPR, and from migration to automation. ADKAR is core to our process, and we believe it will help make any change you decide to implement a worthy success.


These are just some of the benefits that implementing the Prosci ADKAR model can offer your company. When you book an appointment with an OfficeLabs consultant, they will talk to you in depth about your project, and how best to ensure your employees are ready for change. Making sure your business runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible is why OfficeLabs has been chosen by both FTSE 250 companies and huge public-sector bodies, and our no-jargon approach will let you talk to us with confidence about your requirements. 

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