Change Management psychology #3: yes, you can, may, and hopefully want to

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Tips and tricks – if you open a magazine or newsletter on change management, you are bound to see articles listing five, seven or more tips concerning advice on change management. Such as how to make sure your digital transformation runs smoothly, how to ensure the implementation of the HRIS is a success, or how to ensure the organizational change leads to the envisioned synergy. And often it seems that these tips state the obvious. But if it was really that simple, why is it that most change projects take forever, are seen as unsuccessful or are even abandoned after a while? Maybe it would help to understand the psychology behind these tips, and learn how they can really support the work we do. In this series, each blog will deal with a specific tip and explain why it works from a psychological perspective. Here’s blog 3. Let’s take a look behind the scenes.

# 3 Motivation – Invitation – Ability

We have chunked the project into manageable pieces (blog 1) and have aligned our change efforts according to the four stages of the commitment curve (blog 2), so we are in good shape, right? Or is there something missing?

If we take the perspective of the employee (‘the end-user’) and apply Ajzen’s theory of planned behavior, we know that people only do what we hope they will do when the following three elements are in place:

  1. Motivation – a positive attitude: an individual’s belief that the new system will benefit them by making their work easier, more efficient and will add value;
  2. Invitation – a positive subjective norm: the perception that an important person or group of people (e.g., co-workers, your manager) will approve and encourage the new system;
  3. Ability – perceived behavioral control: an individual’s belief of their ability to perform with the new system.

Change activities

Understanding the importance of these elements and how they translate into employees’ needs during a digital transformation, helps to facilitate the change. Knowing how to decide which change activities to organize for each of the four stages of the commitment curve (Awareness – Understanding – Acceptance – Commitment) can be of great value.

These activities can include the following:

  • communicating the “why” during the awareness stage,
  • communicating the “what” by providing a video sneak preview of the HRIS during the understanding stage (Motivation),
  • training each stakeholder group (Ability) during the acceptance stage,
  • involving change-champions, ambassadors; celebrating successes (Invitation).


It’s important to determine how to intervene when things don’t go as planned. We can then ask ourselves the following questions: should we train more (increase Ability), explain more (improve Motivation) or involve more role models (Invite)?  Or organize other change interventions, like a short video to provide a sneak preview; posters and newsletters; or the use of the digital adoption tool WalkMe.

For those who have read all three blogs, you might wonder: is this all there is to know about change management, especially in case of a digital transformation? No, it isn’t. But the three elements of chunking, commitment curve and theory of planned behavior do form the cornerstones of good change management.

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