What Is The ADKAR Model And Why It Matters

The ADKAR model is a management tool designed to assist employees and businesses in transitioning through organizational change. To maximize the chances of employees embracing change, the ADKAR model was developed by author and engineer Jeff Hiatt in 2003. The model seeks to guide people through the change process and importantly, ensure that people do not revert to habitual ways of operating after some time has passed.

Understanding the ADKAR model

Within a business, change is usually met with resistance from employees. This means that the main determinant of successful change comes down to the acceptance of the employees concerned.

The five principles of the ADKAR model

ADKAR is an acronym of five principles that must be achieved to institute successful change. Let’s discuss these in more detail.

1. Awareness

Awareness entails informing employees of the need for change by providing context. Context is important because many are simply afraid to step out of their comfort zone and need a concrete reason to do so.

To create awareness, some difficult conversations may be required. Some uncomfortable facts may need to be shared so that people understand the problem and become more motivated to act. Ultimately, employees need to be told that the status quo is not the most viable option moving forward.

2. Desire

Understanding the reasons for change is one thing, but wanting to change is another. To increase desire among employees, they must understand the benefits.

For example, the automation of a production line may mean that certain employees have to learn new skills. However, they are more likely to be open to learning if automation leads to increased output and a subsequent pay rise.

3. Knowledge

This principle of the ADKAR model involves training and education. Employees will be more open to change if they have a clear understanding of how their responsibilities, skills, and processes will be impacted.

The training must also be specific to the individual. If new software is being installed throughout an organization, this responsibility will fall to IT staff. Once rolled out, however, the responsibility of learning to use the software falls on staff from other departments.

4. Ability

Knowledge is worthless without the capacity to apply it to the real world. Ability, then, means that the employee can apply new skills or behaviors competently.

Hands-on training is one of the most effective ways that employees can show demonstrated ability in certain processes. It also helps them start slowly with small wins to build confidence.

5. Reinforcement

Earlier, we mentioned the potential for employees to revert to old habits. This can be negated by rewarding the continued practicing of new habits to increase motivation. The presence of poor habits, on the other hand, should be addressed through private mediation.

As employees continue to settle into their new roles, continue to collect feedback. There may still be some aspects of the change causing distress which were initially overlooked.

Key takeaways:

  • The ADKAR model helps businesses institute successful change through motivated employee buy-in.
  • The ADKAR model consists of five core principles: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement.
  • To drive change, the ADKAR model focuses on empowering and supporting employees throughout the transition. In theory, this makes employees more resilient to future change and ensures that they do not fall back into old habits.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get The FourWeekMBA Flagship Book "100+ Business Models"