ADKAR: A Model for Change - What Every Leader Needs to Know

ADKAR: A Model for Change - What Every Leader Needs to Know
Last Updated: June 25, 2023

Change is inevitable in today's fast-paced world, and organizations must adapt to remain competitive and relevant. However, change can be challenging and is frequently met with resistance from employees. Leaders need to understand how to manage change effectively. One popular change management model that has gained widespread recognition is ADKAR. This article will explore the ADKAR: A model for change and discuss what every leader needs to know about it.

What is ADKAR: A Model for Change?

ADKAR: A model for change is a goal-oriented approach that focuses on the five key elements required for individuals to embrace and adopt change successfully. ADKAR is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. It provides a structured framework for leaders to understand and manage the human side of change, which is critical for the overall success of any change initiative. Jeff Hiatt, the founder of Prosci, a leading change management research and advisory firm, developed the model. Organizations worldwide use it as a comprehensive approach to managing change. Organizations such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, General Electric, and Microsoft have successfully used it to manage major transformation projects and restructure their organizations.

Related: The ADKAR Model Of Change: The Ultimate Guide to Leading Organisational Change

The Five Steps of ADKAR: A Model for Change


Let's look at each element of ADKAR: A Model for Change and understand how it can be applied in the context of change.


Awareness is the first component of ADKAR. It entails instilling in employees a sense of the importance of change. Leaders must communicate the reasons for the change, including the drivers and benefits to the organization and its employees. Clear and consistent communication is required to help employees understand the rationality and necessity for change. Employees may reject change or fail to understand its benefit if they are not properly informed, leading to a lack of commitment and engagement.

To effectively create awareness, leaders should be transparent, honest, and provide information about the organization's current state, challenges, and the need for change. Leaders should also be open to feedback and address any concerns or questions employees raise to build trust and credibility. Communication channels such as meetings, emails, newsletters, and intranet postings can convey the message to employees at all levels of the organization.


Once employees are aware of the need for change, leaders must work on building desire and motivation for the change. Desire is the second step in the ADKAR model. It requires generating a positive emotional reaction to the change among employees. Employees must be motivated and eager to embrace change to be aware of its need. Leaders must recognize that change may be unpleasant for workers. It is normal for them to reject it owing to apprehension about the unknown or concerns about how it will affect their roles and responsibilities.

By creating a compelling vision of the future state and aligning it with employees' values and aspirations, leaders can inspire a desire for change and foster employee commitment. To generate desire, leaders must emphasize the personal rewards and possibilities the transformation will offer employees. They should explain how the change is consistent with the organization's mission and values and how it will benefit both the organization and the individuals. Leaders should also engage workers in the transformation process by requesting their feedback and incorporating them in decision-making as necessary. This may make employees feel appreciated and increase their willingness to support and participate in the change.


Knowledge is the third component of the ADKAR model. It involves providing employees with the necessary information and resources to implement the change. Employees will be educated on the new processes, procedures, systems, or tools implemented in the transformation. Employees lacking adequate expertise may feel overwhelmed or bewildered, leading to resistance or a lack of confidence in their ability to implement the change.

Knowledge empowers employees to understand how to change and what is expected of them during the change process. Leaders must ensure that employees are properly trained to fulfill their duties in the new environment. This might include offering training programs, job aids, manuals, or other resources to assist employees in gaining the information and skills necessary for the transition. Leaders should also be ready to answer questions, clarify points, and address all employee issues or problems while learning.

The ADKAR model for change


The fourth stage of the ADKAR a model for change, focuses on helping people to use their knowledge and skills to fulfill their responsibilities in the changed environment. This includes giving staff the information, tools, and support they need to execute the change in their day-to-day job effectively. Knowing the change is not enough; employees must also be able to implement the change. It is vital to note that even if employees have the requisite expertise, they may struggle to implement the change if they do not have the appropriate support.

Ability ensures that employees can execute the change in their day-to-day work. Identifying and resolving any obstacles that may hinder workers' capacity to carry out the change is critical. This may entail giving additional training or coaching, allocating resources, simplifying procedures, or resolving any cultural or organizational challenges inhibiting employees' capacity to adapt to change. Leaders should also be ready to provide continuing support to workers as they negotiate the shift, showing appreciation for their efforts.


Reinforcement is the final component of the ADKAR model for change. It involves ensuring that the change is incorporated and sustained throughout time. Change is a continuous process, and leaders must ensure that the change becomes part of the organization's culture and the new way of doing things. Reinforcement is rewarding new behavior and making it the new standard.

Leaders must constantly monitor and evaluate the progress of the change initiative to strengthen it. Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), conducting surveys or feedback sessions, and finding any gaps or areas for development are all examples of what this step involves. Leaders should also acknowledge and celebrate victories, recognize individuals for their efforts, and convey the beneficial impact of the change on the business and its employees. Reinforcement ensures that the change becomes the new norm and is sustained beyond the initial implementation.

It's important to note that the ADKAR model for change is not a linear process but rather a cyclical one. Employees may move back and forth between the model's different stages as they navigate the change process. Leaders must be agile and adaptable, providing ongoing support, communication, and reinforcement to ensure successful change adoption and sustainability.

ADKAR: A Model for Change - Key Considerations for Leaders

Understanding and applying the ADKAR model for change can significantly increase your organization's chances of successful change implementation. Here are some key considerations for leaders to keep in mind when applying the ADKAR model:

Communication is Key: Clear, consistent, and transparent communication is essential at every stage of the change process. Leaders must be skilled communicators and use various channels and methods to effectively communicate the need for change, its benefits, and the progress of the change initiative.

Employee Engagement: Involving employees in the change process can significantly increase their commitment and motivation to support the change. Leaders should solicit input, involve employees in decision-making where appropriate, and provide opportunities for employees to contribute their ideas. Engaged employees are more likely to embrace and adopt the change successfully.

Support and Resources: Providing the necessary support, resources, and tools is crucial for employees to implement the change effectively. Leaders must guarantee employees have the right knowledge, skills, and resources to perform their roles in the changed environment. This may involve providing training programs, job aids, coaching, or allocating additional resources as needed.

Leadership Commitment: Successful change starts with leadership commitment. Leaders must demonstrate their commitment to the change by actively supporting and promoting it, leading by example, and reinforcing the desired behaviors. Employees who see leaders embracing and living the change are more likely to follow suit.

Monitor and Reinforce: Change is an ongoing process, and leaders must continuously monitor and reinforce the change to ensure its sustainability. This involves tracking progress and evaluating results. Leaders must also address any challenges or barriers and take corrective action.


Change can be difficult and may meet employee opposition. Using the ADKAR change model, however, leaders can address concerns proactively, include employees in the process, and give the necessary support and resources to overcome resistance and accomplish effective change implementation.

Finally, the ADKAR model for change is a useful tool for leaders to use in managing change inside their businesses. It offers a systematic approach to change that assists leaders in understanding the important factors necessary for effective change implementation. Leaders may use the ADKAR model to raise awareness, inspire desire, give knowledge, allow ability, and reinforce change, resulting in effective adoption and sustainability.

Leaders can handle change with resilience and push their businesses to succeed in the ever-changing business environment by using the ADKAR model for change as a guide. To guarantee successful change implementation, leaders must commit time and effort in understanding and executing the ADKAR model. By doing so, executives can confidently lead their companies through change, minimizing opposition and achieving the intended objectives. Remember that change is an ongoing process, and effective change management is a vital leadership competence in today's fast-paced corporate environment.

Belinda Pondayi
Belinda Pondayi is a seasoned Software Developer with a BSc Honors Degree in Computer Science and a Microsoft 365 Certified: Endpoint Administrator Associate certification. She has experience as a Database Engineer, Website Developer, Mobile App Developer, and Software Developer, having developed over 20 WordPress websites. Belinda is committed to excellence and meticulous in her work. She embraces challenges with a problem-solving mindset and thinks creatively to overcome obstacles. Passionate about continuous improvement, she regularly seeks feedback and stays updated with emerging technologies like AI. Additionally, she writes content for the Human Capital Hub blog.

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