How to Navigate Change

Adrian Molina

June 30, 2022
5 min read

Change is inevitable, but progress is optional. As our world and society evolve, our ability to adapt helps us continually meet the needs of the people we serve.

Adrian Molina

Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we are helpless to it. As organizational leaders, we recognize that we can manage change within our organizations. We continually want to grow and adapt our best practices as our circumstances evolve.

As we navigate organizational change, I want to share the ADGAR Model with you. Each letter represents a different component we need to focus on when it comes to maximizing change for positive forward momentum.

1. AWARENESS

This step is crucial. If change is coming to your organization, you have to be aware of all included aspects. Navigating your team through change to your organization is part of your responsibility as a leader. Determine everyone who needs to be aware of the change — the stakeholders, staff, team, and volunteers. One of the worst things that can happen is for change to occur that no one knew was coming; it communicates disorganization and a lack of strategy behind the change.

The best practice is to spread awareness in two ways. First, share the news verbally. Whether from a platform or in your meetings, verbalize the change to your teams. Second, write the change down and present it to everyone who will be affected by the change. It is essential to write down the moving parts of the change so your team has a document they can reference as needed.

2. DESIRE

After creating awareness, it’s time to build a desire for the change. You want your team to desire the change with you. Be specific as to how this change will impact and benefit them. It’s always best to break this down at a departmental or team level — your HR team will likely be impacted differently than your creative team. Being specific and clear will bring more people on board, creating excitement for the coming change.

3. KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge is the logistical component — share what systems are changing, how their operating rhythm and workflow will shift, and what tools they will need as the change occurs. This is where staff trainings and meetings come into play. You want to set your team up for success; to do that, they need to feel as equipped and prepared as possible.

4. ABILITY

Next is to shift from knowledge to ability. It’s one thing to know about a change, and it’s another thing to execute it. Your team needs to develop the technical skills needed to perform the changed behavior. An easy example is implementing new software. Not only do you need to know about the software, but you also need to gain accessibility to the software and develop the technical ability to use it. This is where you, as the leader, implement clear channels for your team to ask questions and leverage new systems and tools. Remember to hold space for grace as your team shifts and grows in their ability to execute new behavior.

5. REINFORCEMENT

This step is vital in navigating an organizational change. Science tells us that we have to repeat ourselves seven times before the information cements into someone’s mind and becomes part of their routine. Creating habits takes three cycles of 21 days (that’s nine weeks!) to solidify. Repetition is key, especially in a transition. Your repetition creates your reputation. There are a couple of practical ways to reinforce:

1. Over-communicate. Communicate clearly and repeatedly, and incorporate it into everyday communication.

2. Celebrate. You want to be excited on the front end of the change but also on the back end. Celebrate the victories often, big and small.

I like to say that change is inevitable, but progress is optional. We must remember that change, while challenging at times, is good. As our world and society evolve, our ability to adapt helps us continually meet the needs of the people we serve. I hope you remember ADGAR anytime your organization shifts.

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