Readiness for Change: Assessment Tips for 2021 and Beyond

In 2021 and the years ahead, business transformation will become a top priority for many companies. Yet before embarking on a change project, it is important to evaluate readiness for change. Assessment questionnaires can be an excellent tool to do this.

In this post, we’ll look at a few tips and strategies to help your organization prepare for the uncertain and volatile economy that lies ahead. 

First, though, let’s learn what changes actually lie in store.

What Will Change in 2021 and the Years Ahead?

We all know that change is a constant and that we must change to better ourselves or adapt to new business requirements. However, how often do we prepare for change if we don’t know how the economic landscape will change?

Here are a few trends to watch for in the post-COVID next normal:

IT will become integral to business strategies. The world is becoming increasingly digital, and IT will be the driving force behind businesses’ strategies in the coming years. On the one hand, for example, IT will fuel ever-increasing levels of efficiency and productivity. At the same time, though, new tools and technologies will be the centerpiece of many business products and services.

The workplace will become more digital. Change will dramatically affect the workplace, thanks to trends such as automation, digital transformation, and more. For instance, according to a report by the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that don’t even exist yet. Businesses must naturally prepare for such significant changes if they want to stay competitive and relevant.

The economic landscape will change. The competitive landscape of your industry will always be changing – competition will change, customer needs will change, marketplace dynamics will change, and supplier networks will change. Thanks to trends such as digital innovation and, of course, COVID-19 itself, the pace of change is accelerating.

There certainly are other trends that will affect the business landscape, but these are a few of the most preeminent ones that we should watch. 

By understanding these changes, change leaders can design transformation plans that will help them stay relevant and successful in the coming years. That knowledge will also help managers more effectively assess their organization’s change readiness, as we’ll see next.

Readiness for Change: Assessment Tips 

The most effective way to ensure people are ready to change is to start with a readiness assessment. This is a critical component to any change management effort because it helps change managers understand what barriers are preventing people from changing, which forces support change, and, ultimately, how to design better change plans.

To reiterate, a readiness assessment helps to “bridge the gap” between the current state of the organization and the desired change.

To that end, when assessing readiness and designing a change plan, it is important to focus on tasks such as the following:

Get a clear picture of the business, its processes, and its strategy. To create an organizational change that suits the organization’s goals, change leaders need to understand the business model, the business strategy, and what the company’s goals are. 

Understand how the organization’s culture affects its performance. Culture isn’t just about how people interact with each other at the office, nor is it simply about the workplace climate. Though these are included within the definition of organizational culture, the important point to remember here is that culture impacts organizational performance – and it can affect people’s willingness to support certain types of change projects.

Evaluate technology’s role in the workplace. As mentioned above, in the years ahead, an organization’s IT strategy and digital transformation strategy will become increasingly central to business models. Change readiness assessments should offer a clear picture of the organization’s digital capabilities – or its digital maturity – by examining everything from business processes to digital strategy to the employees’ digital savviness.

Assess employee skills and attitudes towards change and technology. Digital skills are certainly an important point to pay attention to, particularly during digital transformation projects. After all, without the right skills, employee productivity and engagement will remain low. Yet it is equally important to assess how employees feel about new technology. Ask, for instance, whether they will be willing to embrace new technology or whether it will create anxiety. Those feelings will, after all, affect engagement and performance.

Analyze the impact of multiple proposed changes. A business impact analysis will explore how a particular change project will affect various areas of the business, such as finances, organizational performance, the customer experience, and so forth. By evaluating potential change proposals in tandem with a change readiness assessment, change leaders can choose the project that is most appropriate for the circumstances.

These are some of the most important points to evaluate when conducting a readiness assessment. 

However, it should be remembered that each change project is unique – and each assessment should be specifically tailored to a given change proposal.For more information, see our guide on assessing change readiness.

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.