Business Center

How Change Management Helped the Employee Recognition Program Thrive

By Tiffani Madle, Process Improvement Intern
June 8, 2018

Elizabeth Fulk

Elizabeth Fulk

Being recognized for your hard work is always a great feeling. Instituting a culture where hard work is recognized not only by your supervisors but by your peers as well, is easier said than done. Employees throughout CDOT are excelling at their positions every day but not being recognized as much as they should be. With a peer support system in mind, Elizabeth Fulk, Program Assistant II with the CDOT Office of Transportation Safety and Risk Management, helped create what is known today as the Employee Recognition Program (ERP).

Integrating Change Management with Project Management

Prior to designing the ERP, Elizabeth learned about the ADKAR model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement) and also completed a three-day Prosci Change Management course offered here at CDOT. Because the ERP was designed based off of a peer to peer recognition process and would require staff involvement, Elizabeth knew that a change management approach was going to be key. The first step of rolling out the program was to explain what the program was going to be and how it was going to work, while also implementing the ADKAR model to build Awareness, Desire, and Knowledge.

Another major part that made the initial launch of the ERP so successful was a Launch Agenda, detailing out what type of communications would be sent out to the staff and when. The change management methodology was not only helpful in making everyone aware of the program, but also in getting employees to nominate each other and participate in the full nomination process which includes doing a write-up and submitting a form within a specific time frame.  

Procedure Chart for Employee Recognition Program

Procedure Chart for Employee Recognition Program

Next Steps

Once the program was active, the other two elements of the ADKAR model, Ability, and Reinforcement were applied. However, Elizabeth explains “we are still ultimately focused on all 5 ADKAR elements because keeping that enthusiasm from the staff fresh is what keeps the program thriving.” Now that the launch is complete and the program is up and running, the primary tool used for staff communications is a procedure chart (shown on the right), structured around monthly and quarterly communications. A future step needed for the program will include ways to overcome the noticeable competition that exists between peers and their willingness to recognize each other. According to Elizabeth, “This is about changing culture and mindsets and that doesn't happen overnight.”


There’s no doubt that the application of change management helped to make the ERP the success it is today. In addition to applying the ADKAR model and utilizing a change management approach, creating communication tools such as the launch agenda and procedure chart were also a major part of the program’s overall success. A continued change management approach will be necessary to maintain staff engagement in the program, as it still has a way to go. Elizabeth hopes to see more nominations coming through each quarter.

Want to learn more about Change Management at CDOT?
Check out our improvement efforts at the Office of Process Improvement’s website! Or, for CDOT employees, stop by the Change Hubon our Intranet!