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Organizations Don't Change Until People Do

Posted by Sharlyn Lauby | Apr 5, 2018 4:39:39 PM




Organizations decide they’re going to change all the time, especially during times like we’re experiencing today when recruiting is tough, engagement is a challenge, and retention is a top priority. It’s not unusual for an organization to say, “We need to change so we can get the best talent and crush the competition.” But organizational change doesn’t happen just because something goes offline, a kickoff meeting happened to start a project, an acknowledgement was made that change needs to happen, an email was sent to all interested parties, or a training session was held for employees. Instead, change happens when the organization creates a process and a set of tools that yield the desired outcomes, mitigate resistance, increase adoption, and drive the organization faster. So how do organizations create that process? Well, I ran across this acronym that might help. It’s a five-step process called ADKAR.

  1. Awareness (of the need for change)

  2. Desire (to participate and support the change)

  3. Knowledge (of how to change)

  4. Ability (to implement change)

  5. Reinforcement (to ensure the change sticks)

Think of ADKAR as a linear process in which you need to accomplish one step before you can move to the next step. If your organization is going through a change initiative and you’re thinking about implementing a model like ADKAR (or any model for that matter), it would be important to get employees ready. Even introducing a change model is change. Here are three ways to get the organization prepared.


Managers need to set expectations using a variety of communication methods and styles. Not only is it important to communicate, but managers must do so frequently and effectively.


This can be a combination of delivery methods, such as classroom, refresher, just-in-time, and microlearning. Training needs to be more than simply telling employees, “this is the way it’s going to be.” It needs to be effective and hands-on.


Everyone needs to set the example for the new expected behaviors. Both managers and employees should recognize positive behavior. Likewise, both managers and employees should expect to be held accountable.

While we can rely on the steps in change process to be consistent, change takes place with the individual. Thus, the length of time each step could take will vary. Additionally, change is always happening. At any given moment, we are all processing several changes: big, small, and all in a different stage of the process.

At times, dealing with change can sound so simple. But it’s really not. Organizations should find a change management model that works for them, and then train employees how to use it. Because change isn’t going away anytime soon.

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Sharlyn Lauby is the author of “HR Bartender” (www.hrbartender.com), a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When not tending bar, she is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. She can be contacted on Twitter at @HRBartender.



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Topics: Awareness, Reinforcement, Knowledge, Ability

Written by Sharlyn Lauby

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