When the winds of change blow through your organization, the first step to a successful transition is understanding how organizational change readiness will impact the outcomes of the project.
Read this article to learn what change readiness is and why it matters.
Then, we’ll cover five steps that can help you prepare your company for organizational change.
What Is Organizational Change Readiness?
Change readiness is the extent to which an organization or group is able to effectively respond to and implement change.
This concept is important because an organization’s readiness for change directly impacts important outcomes such as:
- The workforce’s ability to engage with a change project
- How much employees resist the change
- The timeline and costs of the project
- How successfully the change is implemented
In short, change readiness can directly impact the overall performance of a project – and even whether that project succeeds or fails.
Also, as many business leader know, a company’s ability to adapt faster than its competitors helps it gain and maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
How to Measure and Improve Organizational Change Readiness
Change can be hard – not everyone welcomes it, not everyone is ready for it, and not everyone knows how to cope with it.
Though change can be stressful and overwhelming, with the proper preparation, it doesn’t have to be.
By assessing readiness and building it into your change strategy, you can make it easier for your team to accept and embrace those changes.
To help you do that, we’re going to discuss a few steps for assessing and improving change readiness.
1. Perform change readiness assessments
One of the first steps in planning for change is to assess the organization’s readiness for that specific change.
Since not all changes will have the same impact on organization, it is important to forecast how the change in question will be received.
A few tools for assessing readiness include:
- Employee surveys
- Technology adoption questionnaires
- Existing data from the organization
- Force field analyses
Through these and other sources, managers can better understand what will influence the performance the proposed change.
2. Identify which factors will impact a proposed change project
One of the most important parts of this process is to understand the psychology of change.
People, after all, tend not to like change and can easily resist it if the change programs aren’t conducted properly.
This means, among other things, making sure that employees are emotionally, mentally, and culturally ready to accept the change.
Here are a few examples of emotional, attitudinal, and other psychological factors that can impact change readiness – and, as a result, the outcomes of a change project:
- Employee skills
- Organizational culture
- Openness to new ideas and to change
- Employees’ attitudes towards learning
Psychological readiness, of course, is only one aspect of change readiness.
Other areas to examine include:
- IT infrastructure
- Existing business processes
- The impact of the change on other stakeholders, such as business partners and customers
All of this information will be crucial in the next step, developing a strategy for improving readiness.
2. Establish a strategy and plan for improving readiness
Once readiness has been assessed – and once the biggest factors affecting performance have been identified – it’s important to create a plan to improve readiness.
- Strengthening the forces that will positively influence the change
- Minimizing the forces that would oppose or hinder change
- Creating mechanisms to continually assess readiness and its impact on the change project
After this plan has been developed, it should be implemented before the actual change commences.
4. Implement this plan at the outset of the change project
In order to support the adoption of new processes in the workplace, it’s important to have an effective readiness plan.
This plan can involve strategies such as:
- Boosting employee skills through employee training
- Building awareness of the need for change
- Cultivating a desire for change on the part of employees
- Reducing the fear of new tools and technology, through processes such as employee onboarding
- Gradually pilot-testing and slowly introducing new processes, as a way to reduce apprehension
Once the plan has been developed, it is time to focus on performance improvement.
5. Measure and adjust
It’s important to have overarching goals as well as concrete, measurable objectives. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never arrive.
Here’s how this could look:
- Articulate a concise and concrete strategy for improving change readiness, based on the assessments performed above
- Translate abstract goals into objectives that can be measured
- Create KPIs and metrics that are tied to each objective and each readiness improvement process
- Track those metrics during implementation
- Adjust the plan as needed
Naturally, as mentioned above, it is important to continually make improvements throughout the process, not only at the beginning.
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.