An introduction to conversations about change

Laura-Jane Booker
Laura-Jane Booker | March 23, 2021
An introduction to conversations about change

Whether you are a people leader, subject matter expert, or part of the transformation team: how you respond to conversations about change can help people feel more comfortable throughout the process.

Talking about change

Our ADKAR conversation set is based on the change management model created by Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt. This is a model used to facilitate individual and organizational change.

We've created questions based on the five outcomes outlined in the ADKAR acronym. According to Prosci these are the outcomes a person must achieve for a change to have long-lasting effects.

Organizations that use the ADKAR conversation set as a base for conversations about change believe that involving everyone - even from an early stage - will help people to feel more comfortable. This also allows the organization to tap into everyone's knowledge and ideas, which helps ensure change success.


The questions within the set prompt conversations that empower people to be a part of their own change.

ADKAR Conversations

For each of the five ADKAR outcomes, we've designed four conversations. These conversations are made up of a rated statement and free-text question.

Awareness conversations

The Awareness conversations tap into people's knowledge from the outset. They crowdsource important considerations, gaps, and risks. They give everyone a chance to ask questions and gain clarity early on.

Awareness represents an individual’s understanding of why a change needs to occur as well as understanding the risks associated with not changing. It’s also about people understanding what they will get out the change. If they don’t know, it’s likely they will resist the change.

Creating an awareness of change is a vital step in enabling the acceptance of change and actions required for change.


Desire conversations

Once people are aware of change, they then have to decide if they want to participate in it.

Through Desire conversations, you can begin to understand who wants to participate, and who has reservations.

Conversations also help you understand how people want to be involved, and tap into what motivates them.


Knowledge conversations

Knowledge also influences change success. Knowledge represents the information and training required to know how to change and how to operate once a change has occurred. To successfully implement a change individuals must understand:

  • New behaviors and skills
  • New systems and processes
  • How to operate new tools
  • New roles and responsibilities

You can build that knowledge through formal training, education programs, job aids, workshops, coaching, and peer mentoring. The things people talk about most should help you decide where to start.


Ability conversations

Practice makes perfect. Failing fast helps us all succeed quicker, but understanding challenges can take time. Joyous makes it all go faster.

Ability represents peoples capacity to put into practice the new behaviors associated with a change. Alongside training to gain knowledge, people also need the time and tools to develop their ability.

Methods for developing ability include:

  • Coaching
  • Establishing safe environments to practice new skills and behaviors
  • Creating feedback channels to surface potential problems with a change
  • Providing access to subject matter experts
  • Hands-on learning
  • Adoption monitoring


Reinforcement conversations

The Reinforcement conversations close the loop where it started. They help everyone build new relationships and most importantly, solidify the change.

Once a change has occurred, it is critical to reinforce the change. Otherwise, people will go back to what they know because it’s familiar and comfortable.

Reinforcement represents both the internal and external factors required to sustain a change. These include recognition, rewards, and celebrations for achieving a change as well as internal satisfaction with achieving a change.

Reinforcement can be any action that helps to sustain a change. For example: constructive feedback, group celebrations, or acknowledgement of an individual’s progress.


Facilitating change

Our ADKAR conversations enable team members to draw on their personal experiences of change. That way, people can drive their own immediate action or micro-change simply by participating in a conversation.

Leaders help to facilitate these micro-changes so it's crucial that they take part in these conversations. Leader participation will not only increase the likelihood that these micro-changes can occur, but also the likelihood that team members will participate in future conversations.