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When it comes to increasing your chances of success within a change process, you better make sure that your people are aware of what is happening, why it is happening, and how it will affect them.
Proper awareness will minimize the risk of people being unaware of the change and its consequences.
The ADKAR change management model is a framework that you can use to guide individuals and organizations through the process of change. In our previous blog, we took a look at the overall process of ADKAR. Now, let's dive deeper into the first stage of the model: Awareness.
Without awareness, there can be no desire to change. This is why it is essential to create awareness around the proposed change before moving on to any other steps.
So what does it truly look like to lead off the ADKAR methodology with effective awareness? First, definitions can be helpful:
AWARENESS: To ensure that the business understands the need and nature of the planned change.
As an organization that is making a move to Microsoft365, awareness can often be mistakenly distilled to a simple announcement: "Hey all, we will be using Microsoft 365 from now on."
However, this does not cover the need for change or its nature. Consider the questions that could immediately arise after that short announcement:
● Why are making this move?
● How will this new platform impact daily work?
● What are some key features that should be known prior to make the switch?
● To what extent will teams need to adjust their collaboration style?
There could be plenty of reasons why your organization is making a change, but it's important that each individual understands the "what," and the "why" behind it.
Answering these questions can help set the stage and ensure that everyone is on the same page from the start. The answers to these questions will likely vary depending on who you ask and their role within the organization.
For example, the answer to "How will this new platform impact daily work?" could be vastly different for someone who primarily uses email compared to someone who relies on project management tools to do their job.
The key is to ensure that there is a shared understanding of the need for change and what it will mean for everyone involved. Trying to build that common understanding can be done in a variety of ways, but some methods may be more effective than others.
Awareness Depends on Scope
How you raise awareness and build understanding will depend largely on the scope of the change.
For example, if your organization is simply changing email platforms, the process for raising awareness and building understanding will be different than if you are undergoing a complete digital transformation.
The latter is a much larger, more complex undertaking that will require a more comprehensive change management strategy.
That's not to say that you shouldn't put effort into raising awareness and building understanding for smaller changes, but the process will be different.
One of the first steps in any change management initiative is to assess the scope of the change and develop a plan accordingly.
This assessment will help you determine how you will then explain the NEED stage of your awareness process as well as the NATURE of the change itself.
The NEED of the Planned Change
First, it's important to ensure that the business understands the need for the planned change. This can be done in a number of ways, but some methods may be more effective than others.
One way to help build understanding is to share stories of how the current process or platform has caused issues in the past.
For example, suppose your team is switching to Microsoft 365 to improve collaboration. In that case, you could share a story of a time when team members could not work together effectively because they were using different versions of the same document.
This is an excellent stage to soft-introduce some of the new products that your people will be using.
For example, explaining how Sharepoint will help the team to better collaborate on documents will help build excitement and understanding for the new platform.
Similarly, introducing Teams as a way for the team to communicate more effectively and hyping up Microsoft's Lists product will maximize data entry efficiency.
The NATURE of the Planned Change
Once the business understands the need for the change, it's important to provide more details about the nature of the planned change. This includes explaining what will be changing and how it will impact daily work.
For example, if your organization is switching to Microsoft 365, you'll need to explain what that means for each individual.
Some people may only be affected by the change in small ways, while others will have to learn how to use new products and features like Sharepoint and Teams.
However your team chooses to build awareness, it's important that everyone is on the same page from the start. Trying to build that common understanding can be done in a variety of ways, but some methods may be more effective than others.
The way you navigate your NEED communication will directly impact how your NATURE communication evolves.
Consider the key stakeholders who will be involved in the change itself.
● Who will be impacted most by the change?
● Who will be fast adopters and who will need more support?
● Who can be made into change ambassadors?
Your answers to these questions will help you determine the best way to communicate the nature of the change.
For example, when building your communication.
Practical Tips for Awareness Building
So what are some easy ways you can practically build awareness and understanding for your team?
Here are a few tips:
1. Utilize Your Digital Bulletin Boards
Digital bulletin boards, or intranets, are a great way to post updates and announcements about changes happening within your organization.
If your team is undergoing a digital transformation, use your intranet to post regular updates about the initiative. Include information about what's happening, why it's happening, and how it will impact employees. Similarly, if you have TVs or monitors around your office, use them to display awareness-building content.
2. Create an Email Campaign
This is where many teams go wrong in change management - sending a simple, one-off email about the change is not going to be enough.
Instead, create an email campaign that will keep employees in the loop about what's happening. Send regular updates about the initiative and make sure to include information about how it will impact employees.
3. C-Level Videos
When it comes to change management, it's crucial to get buy-in from the top. One way to do this is by having C-level executives record videos sharing their thoughts on the initiative.
These videos can be used in awareness-building campaigns or played at town hall meetings. This is a great way to show employees that the initiative has support from the top and that everyone is on board with the change.
However, it is essential to know your people. Are executives respected within the company, or do they have a negative reputation?
This will directly impact how employees react to these videos - and who you pick to be in them.
4. Use Change Ambassadors and a Change Team
Change ambassadors are employees who are passionate about the initiative and can help spread the word to their colleagues.
They can be a great resource for answering questions and helping to build excitement about the change. When selecting change ambassadors, make sure to choose employees who are respected by their peers and have a positive attitude.
A Successful Awareness Campaign Will Build Desire Faster
Remember, every unique aspect of ADKAR is interconnected - each stage builds off of the last.
Therefore, it's vital to ensure that your awareness-building efforts are successful in order to create a desire for change. Stay personal with your people and focus on how the initiative will make their lives better.
When employees understand the need for change and see how it will positively impact them, they'll be more likely to get on board with the initiative.
Want to learn more about how to distil key digital adoption techniques? Don't miss a single episode of Office 365 Distilled - the only podcast focused on digital adoption. You can also check out more great resources on Digital Efficiency, ADKAR, and Baseline Governance.
Let Steve and Marijn guide you and your teams through the best ways to use, implement, and guide the adoption of Office 365 for your team (with a few drinks along the way!)
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