What is Change Readiness?
Change readiness is one of most crucial parts of change management. The scholars of change management found corelation between change readiness and successful change management. For instance, Todnem (2007) wrote that lack of change readiness is an indicator of unsuccessful change management. Likewise, Roberto and Levesque (2005) suggested to make a plan for change prior to starting change project. He mentioned that seeds of effective change must be planted long before the initiative is launched.
Change readiness is a still a subjective concept because still research lack clarity on scientific method to measure organization’s willingness to go on journey of change. However, change readiness can be defined as what extent an organization is confident to take on change.
According to an article published in HBR the change readiness is defined as “the ability to continuously initiate and respond to change in ways that create advantage, minimize risk, and sustain performance.”
Three Drivers of Change Readiness
Following are three drivers of change readiness:
- Culture and values —to what extent organizational culture and values are consistent with desired change
- Commitment and Attitude —to what extent organizational leadership has a resolve and what kind of attitude they have to lead the proposed change
- Capacity and Resources —to what extent employees have knowledge and skills that are required to implement change and organizational financial resources are available to afford change
Why Assessment of Change Readiness is Important?
Managing and implementing change is always complex and it requires a complete preparation before embarking on the initiative of change. Assessment of this preparation is important because of mainly two reasons:
First, it provides an opportunity to mitigate the risks associated with implementation of change. The assessment of change readiness may identify some fault lines which need to be fixed before starting change.
Second, the assessment of change readiness gives in-depth analysis of all the component of change and it gives a better picture of entire plan of change. It actually strengthens the process of preparation by identifying solutions to the problems which may damage the change initiative.
Assessment of change readiness has two main components – what to assess and how to assess. Let’s start with what question first. According to one of framework, it is capacity, commitment and culture of organization needs to be assessed its change readiness.
What to Assess
Capacity and Resources
Since organizational capacity and resources are measurable and tangible so these are easy to assess. Assessment of Capacity and resources refers to following important aspects:
- What is existing decision-making system and management system available to support the change?
- What kind of technology organization is using ?
- What is the level of existing skills and knowledge of its human resource?
- Is human resource adequately available to execute change?
- What management tools are available to execute, monitor and evaluate the change?
- What is financial condition of an organization to implement the change ?
- What are the sources available if extra finance is required?
Commitment and Attitude
Chances of success are greater if commitment and resolve of everyone involved in change is higher. But assessment of commitment and attitude is difficult because it these values are subjective. It varies from one person to another. However, by asking the right kinds of questions this assessment can be helpful towards knowing change readiness. Following are some questions that may be asked:
- What is the common vision of change and whether it is agreed by all key stakeholders?
- What is understanding of all stakeholders to implement desired change?
- Who are supporters and opponents of change?
- What does change hold motivation for different stakeholders ?
- What type of resistance is expected from opponents of change ?
Culture and Values
Culture and values are equally important which can lead or mislead desired change. These are highly subjective so assessment of organizational culture and values is a challenging task. Following questions can be asked:
- What issues in the culture are relevant to the change initiative?
- Is the change consistent with the current organisational culture?
- What is existing value system and what extent it contributes to successful implementation of change?
- What is required culture and values which are best suited to desired change?
How to Assess Change Readiness ?
Ideally, there should be a team or individual outside of organization who are tasked with assessing change readiness. Since this assessment is a research on its own way so there are two research methods to collect data- qualitative and quantitative method. Using these two methods will ensure authenticity of assessment.
Quantitative method refers to undertaking opinion survey from stakeholders and employees. On the other hand, qualitative method is about taking insights from stakeholders, senior management to mid managers on change. For both methods a special data collection tool can be designed on the basis of questions mentioned above.
To begin with a quick survey can be conducted with employees and stakeholders. The purpose of this survey is to assess the knowledge and willingness of stakeholders about change . The questionnaire based on closed ended or Likert scale questions can be sent out to employees . There are some online survey tools are available i.e survey monkey which come in handy for this purpose.
Interviews with different stakeholders i.e senior management and mid managers and workers at other levels help to have explanation of findings of survey. Focus Group Discussion can also be held for having in-depth understanding of change readiness. This kind of engagement with stakeholders explains the complex issues and difficult questions regarding change initiative.
Sharing findings and Recommendations
The results of both survey and interviews are compiled after data analysis. The next step is to share the findings and recommendations with the senior management. It is always recommended to engage different level of stakeholders from senior management to mid management for sharing the findings. The discussion on the findings will also help to validate the results and reaching consensus on the recommendation. The most crucial part is to have buy-in of majority of stakeholders on the results and recommendations.
Take Home Points
- Change readiness simply refers to what extent an organization is ready or prepare to execute change
- Capacity and resources; culture and values; commitment and attitude; are three drivers of change readiness
- Assessing change readiness helps organizations manage risks associated with change and have insights for implementation of change
- The best way to conduct this assessment is to ask critical questions about the three drivers of change readiness.
- Use multiple methods to get data for assessment of change readiness.
- Engage all stakeholders in a way that they become more prepared for change.