Organizational readiness for change is a management concept that helps businesses and organizations build and achieve new goals effectively. By assessing your business’ readiness, you can put strategies into place that make it possible to see the changes you desire quicker and easier.
Creating Organizational Readiness for Change
What is Readiness?
Organizational readiness is a state comprised of the mindsets, leadership strategies, and environmental factors within a business or organization. All of these factors make or break your chances of success when it comes to implementing a change. People will have to make the change happen, and they will have to be working in a supportive environment for the growth to be possible. Very simply, people are motivated in and give their best, 110%, work to projects they desire and believe in, but they also need the support and resources to perform the work.
Readiness is made up of:
- employees’ collective desire for the change
- employees’ belief that the change is possible/not too risky
- the ability of existing systems within the business to accommodate the change
- effective communication efforts to inspire change
- effective communication to implement and maintain change
- planned short term goals
- planned long term goals
- proactive training to accommodate the change
- restructured leadership to affect the change
All of these components exist in an organization at all times, and whether or not they are built on and encouraged impacts the outcome of changes. By examining organizational readiness, a leader can make sure these factors work toward a successful change instead of letting underdeveloped potential and unanticipated problems work against it.
In his article in Leading Change, John P. Kotter stated that over half of the businesses he had observed failed in their change efforts due to insufficient readiness.
It is important to point out that readiness is not a static situation, and it is not a slap in the face to your visions and plans for change. Examining your business’ organizational readiness for change helps you to put tactics and goals into place that make your change more likely to succeed.
Many factors influence an organization’s readiness for change. To assess the current state of readiness in your business, you will need to discuss the proposed change with everyone involved including managers and employees. Their desires and their unique perspectives will give you invaluable information in formulating your plan for change.
Basic questions to ask yourself and other decision-makers:
- Is the vision of the proposed change clearly defined?
- Is there a strategy in place to measure progress?
- Does that strategy include communicating updates and changes to all involved?
- Do all leaders have a plan to maintain consistency with each other and throughout the change?
- Have you established a new leadership team dedicated to making the change happen?
- Has the new leadership team been trained on Organizational Readiness?
- Is there a plan in place to motivate and reward leaders and employees for successes?
- Is there a plan and schedule for necessary resource changes on time for expected goals to occur?
- Will employees be trained on time for the proposed changes?
- Has a feedback system been put into place for everyone involved?
- Will strategy and readiness be reconsidered on a regular basis to adapt to short term and long term changes?
- What environmental changes may inhibit your progress?
- How will existing policies and systems need to adapt to the change?
- Do leaders and employees feel empowered to innovate and take risks?
You may notice how many of these items allow for input and adaptations. There are so many aspects of the organization to consider, and as the goal becomes closer to being realized, these many aspects will change too. The initial strategy will not work throughout the entire process.
Fixing Problem Areas
There will be obstacles. Some people will not agree with the change. Employees may not have the training to perform the new tasks. Leadership strategies may not currently encourage and foster the needed change. John P. Kotter also stated that, “In the first half of a transformation, no organization has the momentum, power, or time to get rid of all obstacles. But the big ones must be confronted and removed.” He proposed that “lack of urgency” may be the main problem area for most organizations even when taking into consideration their organizational readiness for change.
All leaders and employees involved in the change must agree that the change needs to take place. There may be many motives for wanting the change, but that is fine. It may even be beneficial because it provides multiple viewpoints. The most important thing is that everyone wants the change, believes it is possible, and will work with urgency to see that it happens. One way to measure whether or not you have established the desired urgency level is to determine if at least 75% of the leaders involved in the change believe that it is safer to take the necessary risks than to keep things the same.
You also want to anticipate and avoid the following problems:
- building the leadership team devoted to the change from anywhere other than senior managers
- working with a vision that can’t be communicated in five minutes
- allowing mindsets, policies, and behaviors to contradict the proposed change
- retaining important individuals who resist the change
- not planning short term goals that can be reached within 1 to 2 years
- you or your employees “resting on your laurels” after the first goal is reached
- not allowing for staff turnover during the change
- not updating your corporate mission and social norms to fit the change
- failing to reassess organizational readiness after each goal is reached
It may take a little more time and manpower to determine the readiness of your business, but it will make the changes you desire more likely to be realized and more likely to happen faster and smoother. There is no exact science to it, but considering organizational readiness for change forms the building blocks and safeguards to make visions for your business seem like an exact science.
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.