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ADKAR Change Management Model Explained [2024]

Project Management
ADKAR Change Management Model

The ADKAR model addresses the essence of change, whether in business or in government and administrative organizations.

Simply put, every organization or team is made up of individuals whose productivity and personal satisfaction determine the development and outcome of the organization. Success can only be guaranteed if one team, with all its members, is cohesively oriented toward the changes that are inevitable in today’s fast-paced world.

In the following guide, we will delve into the essence of the ADKAR change management model and see what factors influence the successful implementation of change. So, let’s get started.

What is ADKAR?

Founded by Jeff Hiatt of Prosci, ADKAR is a change management methodology that provides a framework for employees to successfully adopt a change.

The ADKAR methodology is based on the progress of the individual, which ultimately leads to change within the organization in response to new circumstances, technological advancements, or the needs of a new project.

Since the world keeps changing rapidly, leaders in various organizations are experiencing changing market conditions, technological advancements, and evolving customer needs. Luckily, those with a progressive mindset understand the importance of assisting employees in comprehending the necessity and advantages of change.

Even if the company’s performance is strong, negative consequences can still arise if employees are dissatisfied, and the ADKAR method is there to help employers prevent this. It has repeatedly proven to be a highly effective tool in this regard, benefiting both employees and companies by helping them implement successful change.

How to Implement the ADKAR Model of Change

Now that we have established that the individual is at the center of every organizational change, let’s explore how to implement the ADKAR methodology and make this a smooth-sailing experience.

Firstly, let’s start with the etymological meaning of ADKAR, as it holds the essence of the methodology.ADKAR stands for:

  • Awareness
  • Desire
  • Knowledge
  • Ability
  • Reinforcement

Each of these terms represents a phase of change management and a specific goal that the company and employees need to achieve to go to the next stage. It is also impossible to carry out a comprehensive and efficient change implementation process if any of these goals are missing.

Let’s pay attention to each segment individually.

Goal #1. Awareness

Making project stakeholders aware of the necessity of change is the first step in implementing the ADKAR methodology. This stage can be quite challenging, as not every affected individual is conscious of the importance of change, which can result in resistance.

The good news is that there are mechanisms to successfully raise awareness about the benefits of change and handle this step.

First and foremost, there must be two-way communication between superiors and employees, as well as among employees themselves.

Meetings, workshops, and lectures are some of the channels leaders can use to clearly present the goals of the change and the paths that need to be taken to achieve them. Moreover, employees’ proactive role is not only helpful for leaders but also necessary in creating a positive attitude towards change in general.

Additionally, the company’s HR team can ask workers to complete various questionnaires and surveys. This way, employees can ask questions and solve any dilemmas related to the upcoming change they may have.

Goal #2. Desire

The second step of the ADKAR procedure is creating a desire for change in the minds of the employees. This is crucial because people need to be inspired to make the switch and accept the new approach.

Motivating people to make a change requires explaining how it will benefit both their careers and the company as a whole. It’s also important to get workers involved in the transition, seek their opinions on important matters, and address their concerns, as it is the responsibility of leaders to create an atmosphere of trust and respect.

Desire can also be stoked with the help of incentives and rewards. This way, the company can encourage employees to be more open to the change by giving them bonuses or promotions if they accept it and keep up the good work even after it happens.

However, if an employer wants to avoid anger or unfavorable attitudes, though, they need to make sure the incentives are fair and equitable.

Motivating people to want to make changes increases the chance that they will stick with them, which in turn improves the organization’s chances of meeting its objectives. The ADKAR method relies heavily on the desired phase, which must be implemented with care and sensitivity for optimal results.

Goal #3. Knowledge

The third goal towards successfully implementing specific changes is acquiring the knowledge necessary to perform work in line with the newly introduced changes.

It is important to develop a comprehensive plan regarding the responsibilities employees will have in order to acquire the necessary knowledge so that they can apply it independently when carrying out their job duties.

To achieve this goal, there must be a solid training process where employees will be presented with the introduced innovations, such as specific new project planning protocols, systems, or tools.

To make sure the employees will absorb the knowledge better and more quickly, the company can organize workshops. This way, employees will participate in interactive lectures with trainers by having group discussions related to changes, brain-storming, and problem-solving. Developing solid knowledge management systems is also a great idea.

This is also a great opportunity for employees to boost their learning skills by watching videos or showing presentations that demonstrate how the business process improvements actually function. The final stage of the learning process should involve doing tasks using the new information under the supervision of mentors.

Keep in mind that this step takes some time—if the change is significant, it needs to be gradually introduced.

Goal #4. Ability

This phase of ADKAR emphasizes the practical application of newly acquired knowledge in the workplace. It is closely intertwined with employees’ self-confidence since embracing changes can be challenging, as mentioned previously.

Employees may begin to doubt their abilities if they:

  • Perceive that it takes them a significant amount of time to fulfill their assigned responsibilities
  • Find the tasks complex and struggle to adapt
  • Have a limited understanding of what is expected of them

To address these concerns, the employer should assign a dedicated mentor who can offer guidance and support to employees. This will ensure effective communication channels to assess employees’ progress, comprehension of their work tasks, and any difficulties they might encounter.

Providing regular feedback to employees regarding their performance allows teams to gain valuable insights into their work and identify areas of process improvement. By promptly addressing any doubts or uncertainties employees may have about their abilities, organizations can mitigate the risk of decreased productivity.

Moreover, consistently providing constructive feedback enables timely problem identification and fosters continuous professional development.

Goal #5. Reinforcement

This phase represents the final goal of the ADKAR model and a successful implementation of changes within the organization’s business processes. It ensures that the change becomes firmly embedded among the employees once it’s been introduced.

Ongoing engagement with the employees is crucial at this point. It usually involves providing constructive feedback on their work and progress and fostering open communication and support.

This approach aims to prevent employees from reverting to previous methods when encountering difficulties. Instead, they can collectively overcome challenges with their colleagues and supervisors.

Examples of reinforcement within the ADKAR model also include rewarding employees for their successful performance through incentives like a day off, a travel opportunity, or any other form of recognition for their dedicated efforts and achieved results.

Furthermore, publicly acknowledging employees for their high-quality work in the presence of all employees encourages the adoption of the implemented changes, boosts motivation, and ultimately enhances productivity.

On the other hand, it is important to pay attention to the fact that the employees who fail to meet the expected results shouldn’t be shamed. The leaders should have a private conversation with them to identify a solution for the problems they encountered during the adoption of the changes.

They can also provide additional training or an immediate evaluation of their tasks to promptly solve any identified issues and improve the quality of work while motivating the employees.


After reading this article, we see that organizational change goes hand in hand with changing the way each individual within the team performs.

Although there are no magic tricks that can help employers implement changes overnight, organizations can effectively navigate complex changes and achieve their strategic goals by following the ADKAR method.

After all, it doesn’t hurt to remember what John F. Kennedy once said: “Changes are the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”


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