When I coach leaders focused on improving the performance of a team member, I find the ADKAR® model to be an excellent guide to improve team performance. The ADKAR® model can analyze a situation and determine the next step to achieve the desired change.

Often leaders tell me they are frustrated with the behavior of an employee. The leader may believe they have clearly expressed the desired behavior and be puzzled about why the team member is not improving.

Using the ADKAR® model is a simple, logical way to address the desired change in performance. Beginning with “Awareness” work through this model and find out where the employee may be stuck. This will then inform you on what the next step will be.

ADKAR® is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement to Improve Team Performance.

Here is how you can use this model to coach an employee to improve their performance.


It begins with awareness. Is the team member aware of the behavior you expect? And are they crystal clear on what that looks like?  You might say, “I need you to speak up more in our meeting.” and that could be misinterpreted. Instead, be very specific on when you want them to speak up about, when and where you want them to speak up, and how they should do this.

Often leaders believe they have been clear, yet the employee is aware, of a disconnect.


Once you are certain the employee is clear about the desired change, they must have the desire to do something about this. Remember the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.”

If the team member does not want to make the change, work to find the root cause, and then you will need to decide if this is a negotiable change or not.


When you and your team member are aligned about the needed change and agree that this is important, you’ll examine if the team member has the knowledge needed to make the change. This is the point where you may identify training or coaching needs. Perhaps the employee would benefit from shadowing someone, reading a book, or attending a class.


Now that the employee has the knowledge, it’s time to build skills. Gaining ability often takes practice. You will provide them with ample opportunities to experiment and try on new skills. Together you can debrief and discuss how the skill building is coming along, what is working, and opportunities to improve. Depending on the skill needed, this might be a quick process, or it might require a detailed plan of action.


Once the team member has acquired the new behavior, it is essential to reinforce it. Leaders need to look for opportunities to recognize and reward the new behaviors and continue to provide coaching to refine the new behaviors.


Using the ADKAR® model is helpful because often leaders jump ahead when their direct report may not even be clear on why the change is needed. Slowing down and working through each of these outcomes sets the team member up for success. It also reduces the frustration of the leader, because the expectations are now logical and realistic.

For additional information about the ADKAR® model: ADKAR Change Management Model was created by Jeffery Hiatt (founder of Prosci) and published in the book ADKAR: A Model for Change in Business, Government, and our Community in 2006.

About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and the Forward, community, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.

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