5 Things to Remember for Change Management

Sep 5, 2012

Think about how often you work with outsourcers — whether for background testing, payroll, recruiting, or research. How often do you think about the process and how it will affect your team and your other daily processes? When it comes to outsourcing partnerships, particularly those that are a little more complex or require more give and take with your internal team, the processes you’re now using will naturally change.

But internal employees will be comfortable with the old way of doing things, and they might be resistant to those changes.

Avoid having their team “just run with it” when a new outsourcing partner is hired. Instead, go through a basic change management program that addresses some of the common hiccups to bringing on a new outsourced process.

A Clunky Acronym for a Smooth Process

Given its importance, there are a large and growing number of available approaches to change management. One of the more prevalent models today is called the ADKAR approach; it’s practical and straightforward. While this article briefly overviews the model, there’s much more information available on it online, and a few links are listed at the end of this post.

The ADKAR model — the name is an acronym for the steps in the change management process — was developed after research with hundreds of companies undergoing major change projects. It offers a step-by-step approach to ensuring change management, but also serves as a checklist of sorts by helping you pinpoint where the process might be breaking down. While many of the steps seem obvious and self-explanatory, it’s stunning how often organizations fail to manage major changes in business process.

There are five steps to the process:

  1. Awareness of the need for change.
  2. Desire to participate in and support the change.
  3. Knowledge on how to change.
  4. Ability to implement required skills and behaviors.
  5. Reinforcement to sustain the change.

Here’s a brief summary of each of the five steps:

  1. Awareness: Create an understanding for the need to change. Key questions include 1) Why is the change necessary?; 2) What is wrong with what we are doing now?; 3) What’s in it for the individuals?
  2. Desire: Create the desire to support and take part in the change. This typically involves informing the team of the benefits of making the change, including benefits the company will realize and the benefits that employees will realize. Effective leadership can go a long way to helping people to embrace change.
  3. Knowledge: Inform people so they know what to do and how the change will impact them. Typically this includes offering training and education, providing a detailed understanding of new tasks and processes, and explaining new roles and responsibilities.
  4. Ability: Provide the skills and support to execute the new process. This can include providing access to subject matter experts and performance monitoring.
  5. Reinforcement: Create the ability and environment to sustain the change and maintain positive momentum. This can include recognition (celebrations, rewards, feedback) and accountability (audits, performance measurement, linking performance to compensation).

While it is easy to overlook a change management effort when starting an outsourcing program, it’s one of the most critical components to making such programs successful. In fact, in surveys of firms that embarked on outsourcing efforts and similar projects, “effective change management with employees” was the third-most-important success factor for the project, and “helping managers be effective sponsors of change” was considered the most critical success factor overall.

The following links provide additional detail on the ADKAR process: