What makes for a successful transition?
Any change within an organization will affect employees to some extent. Changes to organizational structures, processes, daily work practices, methodologies, software systems and other aspects are implemented with the aim of making the organization function more successfully. This can only be achieved if each individual member of staff completes the transition successfully and actually puts the intended improvements into practice. For every employee who drops out of the process before, during or after the transition, the total level of success that was intended will crumble away a little bit more.
For example, a takeover or reorganization can hardly be called successful if 25% of the employees have left the company 6 months later. But even the most successful software implementation and delivery will only be of minor benefit if half of the users cannot, or will not, use the system.
A transition can only be called successful if both the technical and the human part are successfully designed, executed and followed through.
The 5 psychological phases of each change
Each individual will go through 5 psychological phases when confronted with an external change. Whether it's a change in their personal life or at work, it makes no difference.
These 5 phases are:
- Awareness: Understanding why a certain change is necessary.
- Desire:The will to support and go through with the change.
- Knowledge: The knowledge needed to be able to apply the change.
- Ability: Being able to apply the knowledge in practice.
- Reinforcement: Anchoring the change and adopting new habits.
These five phases are abbreviated as 'ADKAR', and this was documented by Prosci in their 'Change Management' model. The factors that determine the intensity and speed of each of these 5 phases are of course different for each individual.
For example: the person who proposed a solution will go through the "Desire" phase faster than someone who is having a solution imposed on them.
This model (and thus the human aspect of change) has two major pitfalls:
- The management and project team may focus their attention on a phase an employee hasn't yet reached, because that employee hasn't devoted any or enough attention to the previous phases.For example: the organization and execution of training (Knowledge) makes little sense for employees who do not yet have the will (Desire) to support the transformation in any case.
- People also often implicitly assume that completion of the previous phase automatically leads to the next phase. For example: just because someone understands why the change is necessary, it doesn't mean he or she will automatically show the will to be involved in the change.
Johan De Rop, Enterprise Architect & Change Manager
Johan Roosen, Senior CRM and Change management consultant