Why do some changes succeed while others crash and burn? After all, you hired the best consultant available with impeccable credentials and impressive references to implement the change. They presented a flawless project plan and communicated to employees that the change was coming. So, what went wrong?

If you’re a business leader, no doubt you’ve experienced the frustration of trying to launch a new business process, software innovation or technology, only to be met with resistance and, at times, downright animosity by employees. And, if you’re like most of us, you’ve probably gone so far as to implement a change only to find out 6 months later that employees are still using their workaround because they’re comfortable with it.

So, how do you get your employees to embrace the changes needed to keep your business fresh, relevant and profitable? Well, at its simplest level – you have to make it personal. People change because there’s something in it for them at an emotional level. It’s more than mere communication and training – employees have to want to change and they have to have the capability to change.

I know, you’ve heard the old adage, “people hate change”, but do they really? How many people do you know who recently upgraded to the newest generation smartphone? With each generation, the technology gets more innovative, offering more bells and whistles and forcing people to “relearn” how to use their phones. Nevertheless, most people anxiously await the upgrade and take the additional learning curve in stride. Why? Because they’ve embraced the change. They’re invested in the benefits of making the change. So, how do you bottle that enthusiasm and channel it into successful organizational changes? The answer’s simple: you utilize a similar marketing strategy by following these implementation steps:

1.       Creating Consciousness – in other words alerting people to the need to change, the nature of the change and the risks of not changing.

2.       Making it Personal – by making it personal to the stakeholders involved, you create individual motivation (desire) to change. By making it personal, stakeholders are more likely to become advocates for the changes.

3.       Providing Learning and Education – this step ensures employees know how to make the change, and includes giving them the skills, tools, processes, systems and techniques to successfully implement the change.

4.       Ensuring Capability – Capability ensures execution and realization of the anticipated results, but capability is different from knowing how to make the change. For example, most college football players have spent years learning how to play the game and honing their skills, but <1 % will have the capability to play at a professional level.

5.       Reinforcement – to sustain changes, you have to recognize and reward it when it happens. B.F. Skinner taught us that positive reinforcement is the key to sustained behavior change – it was true with rats and it’s true of humans too.

Intentional implementation of each element of this change management model is vital to the sustainability of any successful change initiative. These steps are intertwined and must be addressed in order to be effective, for example, you can’t make it personal until employees are conscious of the nature of the change, the reasons for the change and the risks of not changing. Likewise, you can’t provide meaningful learning experiences until it’s personal for employees and they’ve decided they want to change.

Implementation of the model begins once the need for change has been identified and provides the framework and steps necessary to manage the human side of business and the people side of change.