Engage Your Team in Using the ADKAR Model

The Value of ADKAR

Prosci’s ADKAR[1] model describes the 5 building blocks required for successful change at an individual level:


If you manage people, the ADKAR model provides a framework you can use to lead your team through a change. I’ve had the opportunity to help hundreds of managers learn how to use the model through the delivery of the Prosci Change Management Program for Managers. I believe that the most effective way to use the ADKAR model in a work setting is to have your team members self-assess their progress through the five building blocks at multiple points during the change process. If you have a trusting relationship with your team, they will be willing to share their results with you. If you know where each member of your team is at in their journey through the five building blocks, you can have group or individual discussions to determine what support is needed to ensure continued progress from one building block to the next.

You can also use the assessment results to identify who has a barrier point and where. A barrier point exists when a team member has a low score for a particular building block and isn’t able to move forward in adopting and using the change. While the scoring of the ADKAR assessment is important for revealing barrier points, the real value is that the numbers enable you to have focused conversations with your team members to identify and resolve obstacles to the adoption and use of the change.

Despite the value of the ADKAR assessment, many managers who’ve received training don’t use the assessment. The most common excuses I’ve heard are:

  • I don’t have time to conduct surveys and discuss the results with my team.
  • There’s a lack of trust regarding how the survey results will be used and my team members aren’t willing to share their results with me.
  • My staff have survey fatigue.

A Simple Process for Applying ADKAR

When I deliver the Prosci Manager Program, I demonstrate a practical way to engage team members in completing the ADKAR assessment that addresses these excuses. Typically, the managers who are attending the program are all being impacted by the same change. As part of the program design, they are asked to do a self-assessment to determine where they are at in their journey through the model. The steps involved in the process are:

1.  I start by explaining the ADKAR model, including the meaning of each building block and the concept of the barrier point.

2.  The managers then self-assess, scoring the current strength of each building block using Prosci’s paper-based ADKAR assessment.

3.  I then post an ADKAR scoring grid on a flipchart at the front of the training room. I turn the flipchart easel around, so that it can’t be seen by the participants.

4.  I then ask the participants to come up, one by one, and plot a single dot on the scoring grid that represents their current barrier point (the first building block of the five that scores a three or less out of five). The process is like voting at a voting booth.

5.  After all the participants have plotted their barrier points, I turn the flipchart around and we collectively examine the overall plot represented by the dots

6.  Without asking the participants to identify themselves, we discuss the barrier points. For example, if there are barrier points at awareness, I will ask the managers:

  • What might contribute to a low awareness score?

  • What information have you received to help you understand why the change is being made?

  • What additional information would help to deepen your understanding of why this change is being made?

7.  We repeat step 6 for each barrier point. The intent is it to maintain confidentiality, by encouraging a discussion without singling out anyone.  

Practical Experience

A manager that I instructed shared the positive experience he has had using this process with his team. He explained that after going through the seven steps at a team meeting, the team members realized that his intent was to support them to successfully adopt and use the change. He repeated the steps during regular team meetings, at different points in the life cycle of the change. After the second meeting, his team members started to identify with their individual scores as they realized that other team members had the same barrier points. The manager used the same scoring grid, left the previous dots on and gave his team members different coloured dots each time they plotted their barrier points on the grid. The intent was to enable them to view their progress, individually and collectively, in dealing with the change. The desired pattern that he and his team observed, was seeing the barrier points move from left to right on the grid, i.e. from Awareness to Desire to Knowledge to Ability and ultimately to Reinforcement. If only one person had a barrier point for a particular building block, the manager was careful not to single that person out in front of the other team members. He had a one-on-one conversation with the individual following the team meeting. He also posted the scoring grid in the work area, to create ongoing opportunities for discussion between team meetings. For more information on when to conduct ADKAR assessments, please refer to my blog post When to Assess ADKAR Levels During a Change.

Next Steps

Once your team members become familiar with the ADKAR model, the repeated application of the assessment takes very little time. This simple approach provides a way for you to engage your team in assessing and creating shared ownership of their progress in adopting and using a change. You’ll gain insights that will help you know what actions you need to take to be an effective change leader. I encourage you to give it a try.     


[1]The ADKAR model is the copyright of Prosci.