How to Properly Conduct a Change Readiness Assessment

Organizational change is often viewed as a difficult process, and it very well can be. However, an organizational change readiness assessment can significantly improve a project’s performance and outcomes. 

By assessing a project properly, managers can gain insights into the needs of the workforce and the organization. And, as a result, change can be implemented more smoothly and successfully.

In this post, we’ll look at why readiness assessments are so important, then we’ll cover a few tools and techniques for conducting an assessment.

Why You Need an Organizational Change Readiness Assessment

In today’s marketplace, business leaders need to be nimble and responsive to customer needs. This means encouraging their organizations to embrace change.

However, a great many organizational change initiatives fail due to a lack of readiness on the part of the employees and the business itself.

When employees aren’t ready for change, for instance, they can very easily resist that change. And when old processes and barriers aren’t removed, logistical headaches can become a nightmare for change managers.

Performing an organizational change readiness assessment can result in a number of positive outcomes, including:

  • Higher employee engagement
  • Less resistance from employees
  • Greater employee productivity during the change project
  • A smoother transition to new business processes
  • More support from executive sponsors
  • Faster project implementation
  • Lower project costs

To sum up, the more data that is collected about an organization’s readiness for change, the easier it will be to design a change plan that is suitable – and, as a result, change projects will be more successful.

How to Properly Conduct a Change Readiness Assessment

Next, we’ll look at a few key ingredients that can help change managers and project leaders conduct an effective readiness assessment.

Readiness Assessment Tools

Here are a few types of tools that can be used before planning a change project:

To make the most of these tools, change managers should clearly define the scope of their project before actually conducting the assessment.

Define the Impact of the Change

There are different ways to do a change readiness assessment, but the first thing to do is to figure out what must be assessed. To do that, it is important to define how the change will affect the organization. 

After all, not every change will have the same impact, so it is only useful to assess areas that actually will be affected.

Here are a few dimensions to consider:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Tools
  • Finances

Once the business impact has been defined clearly, then it is time to actually conduct the assessment.

Conduct the Assessment

Fortunately, conducting the assessment is less complex that understanding what to assess and how to use that information.

Often, assessments can simply be conducted through tools such as:

Once the required information has been collected, that data can then inform both the change management plan and plans to improve readiness.

Improve Change Readiness

By now, the factors that are both supporting and hindering change should be clear.

That information, in turn, can be used to overcome obstacles and improve engagement.

Here are a few examples of strategies for improving change readiness:

  • Employee skills are lacking, so managers decide to implement a training plan to reduce apprehension and improve productivity
  • Existing business processes are designed for legacy IT systems, so to streamline the transition to new processes, change managers hire a business process manager
  • To reduce employee resistance, project leaders create a change management communication strategy designed to explain what the change process is, why it is occurring, and how it will impact the workforce
  • To improve customer care during customer-facing upgrades, software adoption managers implement a self-service solution that automates customer service

All of these strategies can help improve readiness at the outset of a project. And, as we saw earlier, the more ready a workforce is for change, the easier it will be to actually execute that project.

Create a Change Plan that Meets the Organization’s Needs

Another key benefit of conducting a readiness assessment is that it helps managers create change strategy that is suitable for the organization and its people.

For example, if there is too large a gap between the organization’s capabilities and the proposed change, the project will have a hard time succeeding. It may go over budget. Employees may resist. Or it may fail completely. Boosting change readiness, in short, is one reason to conduct a readiness assessment.

Another important benefit is that the readiness assessment can guide decision-making around the change project.

An assessment, for instance, can offer insights that guide choices around:

All of these types of changes should be specifically tailored to meet the needs of the business. 

The more information managers have before beginning their project, therefore, the more they can use that information to choose appropriate courses of action. 

Takeaway

If an organization is ready for change but doesn’t know how to start the process, an organizational change readiness assessment can help.

Readiness assessments can help managers better understand business processes, the organization’s strategy, the needs of the workforce, and more.

All of that information, in turn, can help businesses create plans to both improve change readiness and create change plans that get better results.

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.