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ADKAR Matured: Reinforcement

This blog is driven by the ideas and conversation in the

Steve and Marijn Podcast EP85: Spirit of Barcelona – Maturing Ability check it out.


You can prepare all you want for a big organizational change, but eventually, the day comes when you have to let go and see if your team can actually deliver on the change.

The launch of the change will reveal many things: perhaps some team members are not as ready as you thought, or maybe the process itself needs to be tweaked.

This is the moment when all your hard work either pays off or crumbles. Is your foundation reinforced?

Reinforcement is the final stage of the ADKAR model, and it is absolutely critical to the success of your change initiative.

So what exactly is reinforcement - and what steps can you take to ensure that your team is successful in this final part of the process?





Reinforcement Defined

It's human nature to think that once we have learned something, we will never forget it.

But the reality is that we all need to be reminded of new information from time to time, especially when it comes to learning something complex or making a significant change in our lives.

Reinforcement is simply the act of reminding people of the desired behaviour or knowledge so that they can maintain it over the long term. In organizational settings, this usually takes the form of training, coaching, or some other type of ongoing support.

By ensuring that you have a longer-term plan for reinforcement, you can help your team members keep the desired behaviour or knowledge top of mind - and prevent them from slipping back into old habits.


21 Days to Change - 90 Days to Lock It In

You've likely heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.

While this is not an exact science, some research suggests that it takes about that long for a new behaviour to become automatic.

So if you want your team members to maintain the new behaviour or knowledge they have acquired during the ADKAR process, you will need to provide some form of reinforcement for at least 21 days.

Ideally, you should continue reinforcement for even longer - up to 90 days - to help your team members lock in the new behaviour or knowledge. This will give them time to practice the new behaviour or skill until it becomes second nature.

This concept can give you a general idea of how long the reinforcement stage of the ADKAR process should last. Of course, every team and every change initiative is different, so you will need to use your best judgment to determine the right timeline for your specific situation.


Baking In Your Change

The goal of your change should be a naturally-occurring event - not something that requires constant reminders or check-ins.

Imagine a cake that uses yeast as a rising agent. Once you add the yeast to the batter, it takes time for the cake to rise. Once it does, the ingredients are fully integrated, and the cake is ready to bake.

The same is true of organizational change. Once you have gone through the ADKAR process and baked in your change, it should be something that happens naturally - without constant reminders or check-ins.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you can simply forget about your team once the 90-day reinforcement period is over. Change is an ongoing process, and you will need to continue to monitor your team's progress and provide support as required.

But if you have done your job well, the change should be something that happens naturally - without constant reminders or check-ins.


Creating a Community of Success

One of the best ways to reinforce a desired behaviour or knowledge is to create a community of success.

This is a group of people who are all working toward the same goal and can provide support and encouragement to one another.

By creating a community of success, you can help your team members feel like they are part of something larger - and remind them that they are not alone in their efforts.

Within that community of success exist your various reinforcement methods: training, coaching, etc.

You should tailor these activities to meet the needs of your team members - and they should be delivered in a way that is most likely to be successful.


ADKAR in Action with an Office365 Adoption

Now that we've gone through the final stage of the ADKAR process let's look at how it might play out in a real-world setting.

In this example, we'll use an Office365 adoption initiative.


Step 1: Awareness

The first step in the ADKAR process is awareness.

In this stage, you will need to educate your team about the change you are trying to make - and why it is essential.

You will also need to help them understand how the change will impact them personally.

For our Office365 adoption initiative, we might start by sending out an email to all team members.

In this email, we would explain the reasons for the change - and how it will benefit the team.

We would also include instructions on how to get started with Office365 - and where they can go for help if they need it.


Step 2: Desire

In this stage, you will need to help your team members understand what they need to do to make the change successful.

You will also need to provide them with a clear incentive to make the change.

For our Office365 adoption initiative, we might start by sending out a second email to all team members.

In this second email, we would explain how using Office365 can help them be more productive and make their job easier.

We would also include instructions on how to get started with Office365 - and where they can go for help if they need it. This will help create a desire for change.


Step 3: Knowledge

In this stage, you will need to provide your team with the resources they need to make the change successfully.

You will also need to ensure that they have the skills and knowledge necessary to make the change.

For our Office365 adoption initiative, we might start by hosting training sessions.

In these sessions, we would provide team members with the resources they need to get started with Office365 - and help them develop the skills they need to use it effectively. We can then set up champion users to help answer any questions team members may have. This critical stage will help ensure success.


Step 4: Ability

In this stage, you will need to provide your team with a chance to showcase that the change is possible.

You will also need to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to make the change successfully.

For our Office365 adoption initiative, we might start by allowing team members to use Office365 in a real-world setting.

As they get their hands dirty with the software, they will quickly realize that it is not as difficult as they thought - and that it can actually be quite helpful. We can also provide ongoing support to help them through any challenges they may face.


Step 5: Reinforcement

The fifth and final step in the ADKAR process is reinforcement - the beginning of the 90-day cycle to create new habits.

In this stage, your team is well on its way to living in the new change environment, having successfully completed the previous steps.

It is now time to provide them with the resources and support they need to maintain their new habits - and help them troubleshoot any challenges they may face.

For our Office365 adoption initiative, we might start by sending out monthly reminders about the benefits of using Office365. We would also host regular check-ins to help team members stay on track.

And finally, we would provide ongoing support to help them through the Community of Success. We can help team members make it part of their new normal by reinforcing the change.


Supercharge Your Change Process with ADKAR

Change is never easy - especially when it involves learning new things.

But by using the ADKAR model, you can supercharge your change process and help your team members successfully adopt Office365.

By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure that your team has the desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement they need to make the change successful.

With the right strategy, you can make change happen - and help your team members thrive in the new environment.


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!)

Download and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

 
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