7 Key Elements to Include in a Change Readiness Assessment

A properly conducted change readiness assessment can offer important insights that can improve the performance and the outcomes of a change project.

Among other things, a readiness assessment helps change managers understand the organization’s needs, define a starting point for the change project, and outline a strategy.

Without the information provided in an assessment, however, managers will essentially be operating in the dark, making it far more difficult to design a project roadmap.

Below, we’ll look at some of the key areas to address when conducting a change readiness assessment.

7 Areas to Focus on When Conducting a Change Readiness Assessment

Here are seven of the most important areas to focus on in a change readiness assessment:

1. Strategy and goals

Though it may seem basic, the first priority is to clarify the goals and the strategy of the change program.

Areas to address in this section of the assessment include:

  • Identifying the overarching goals and objectives of the change project
  • Defining the key actions required to achieve those goals
  • Setting measurable targets
  • Articulating a vision that the program hopes to achieve

Since the strategy and goals form the very foundation of the change program, it is crucial to identify these at the outset of the project. The program’s strategy, after all, will be the guiding principles that dictate the actual tactics and activities.

2. Business impact analysis

A business impact analysis gauges how a particular event or activity will affect the company’s performance and, crucially, its finances.

These analyses are often used during other types of business planning activities, such as business continuity planning.

In the context of a change project, it is useful to identify:

  • Which business processes will be impacted
  • The potential negative impacts associated with the change
  • How the proposed change will affect employees, as well as their necessary knowledge and skills
  • The costs and the bottom-line financial impact

As with the other areas covered here, the business impact analysis will help change managers properly prepare the workforce, outline a roadmap for change, and understand the bottom-line ROI of a project.

3. Communication

A communication strategy helps to ensure that all team members stay in sync and productive. Good communication also helps avoid potential pitfalls, such as friction, errors, and employee resistance.

When assessing communication needs, it is useful to address:

  • Whether feedback mechanisms are in place
  • Which information needs to be imparted to employees and stakeholders
  • Whether or not a goal-oriented communication plan has been created

Answering these questions will help change leaders translate more strategic aims, such as the need to fully engage employees, into a concrete plan of action.

4. Digital maturity

Today, many organizational change efforts revolve around digitization and digital transformation. This should come as no surprise since so much change in today’s economy is being driven by the technological revolution.

Whenever technology plays a role in an organizational change program, therefore, it is imperative to assess an organization’s digital maturity level.

A few areas to focus on are:

  • Employees’ digital skill levels
  • The existing IT infrastructure
  • How the desired infrastructure would impact the workplace

Understanding this information is essential for developing other elements of the change program, such as employee training and digital adoption plans.

5. Organizational culture

Organizational culture can play an important role in organizational change.

In some cases, culture may be conducive to change or have no effect at all, but in other cases, it may actually hinder progress.

Naturally, in the first two cases, there is no need to make changes to the company culture, but there is no way to know without first performing an assessment.

When assessing the state of the company’s culture, change managers should:

  • Identify desired behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and ideas
  • Ascertain whether those are aligned with the current corporate culture
  • Outline an action plan to change the company culture if necessary

Since organizational change programs can change the company’s overall mission and even its underlying value system, assessing areas such as these can significantly improve the outcomes of a change program.

6. Training needs

Every organizational change involves the adoption of new technology, tools, processes, workflows, or ideas – or, in most cases, a combination of these.

It is critical, therefore, to understand and outline employee training needs well before the project begins.

When assessing training needs, change managers should learn:

  • What skills and tools the workforce currently has
  • The skills, tools, and competencies that will be required after the project is complete
  • Which training methods and solutions are best suited to achieving those aims

Today’s workplace is continually evolving, which is why it is so important to implement training methods that are efficient and effective – especially as we move forward into the post-COVID next normal.

7. Change readiness

All of the above criteria are essential for identifying change readiness, yet a portion of the assessment should focus specifically on the organization’s capabilities and willingness to actually implement change.

Among other things, it is important to clarify:

  • Whether all appropriate risks have been identified and whether risk mitigation strategies are in place
  • How employees feel about the proposed change plan
  • If all aspects of the change plan have been addressed, completed, and prepared
  • Whether plans have been made to ready employees for the first day of the program

In short, the final readiness assessment will ensure that the organization and the workforce are properly set up to launch the program.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.