In order to drive change or transformation in your business, the first step is to drive awareness of the need for change. If people are comfortable doing business the way they have always done business and especially, if it has worked in the past, they will see no reason to change and will actively resist it.
From a digital marketing point of view, the “need for change” is often captured during the SWOT Opportunities and Threats part of the marketing plan. External factors like a change in market dynamics, consumer needs or competitor action can often create an opportunity or threat that triggers awareness of the need for change.
So, if consumer expectations of what they expect from you online change, or there’s a major change in your competitors website or in your e-Commerce channels, these can often create a sense of the need for change. This change needs to be communicated to the people in your business or agency who need to do something different.
However, it’s one thing to be aware of the need for change, but quite another to actively desire or want the change. Most businesses work on well-established and predictable routines and systems. And ‘change’ is by definition a disruptive process.
Resistance to change and defensiveness can often come out, particularly from anyone who has set up current systems. People will have a mental and emotional connection to the way things were done in the past, and it’s an important part of the change management role to show why the ‘new’ way will be better. You can look to use those who are most supportive of the change as “change champions” to help convince those who see it as a threat.
The messages you use should try to remove the fear of change. Change is inevitable, nothing lasts forever. When you can lead or coach people to embrace change, it actually creates more power for them as they can shape it rather than have it happen to them.
The third stage of the ADKAR model then is a more specific knowledge based approach. This is where the focus is on practical skills and techniques to make people comfortable and confident in the new way of working.
It’s usually heavily training or coaching focussed, with a need to identify any new skills or processes required because of the change, and the right resources put in place to increase the knowledge so people feel equipped to work in the “new” way.
At this fourth, ability stage this is all about getting started with the new way of working. It can involve rehearsals, dummy runs or limited launches of the new way of working. But it should also look to set objective and metrics for the change so that performance can be measured and tracked.
It’s likely that there will be unseen or unplanned teething problems from the change, and as change leader, you need to be able to watch out for these, and be flexible enough to adapt the system to cope.
At this final stage, the aim is for the change to become the “new normal” way of doing things. This involves recognising the value of those who have embraced the change, and rewarding good habits.
Use positive feedback to show what is working and why it relates back to the need for change set out at the start of the process.