What is organisational change readiness?
Organisational change readiness is the readiness of a business or organisation to succeed at the change process.
It’s not simply readiness to begin – it’s readiness to succeed at every step of the change process.
Okay, so that’s the helicopter view. Now, let’s drill down and think about some details. Let’s think about 3 implications change readiness has for change management.
First, the hardest part of organisational change is getting people to change. Right? You can replace old computers with new ones, and the old ones never complain about being thrown on the scrap heap. You can re-brand a business and the old brand doesn’t mind. Old buildings don’t resist being replaced by new ones.
It is only people who complain and resist when the old and familiar is replaced by the new. So, most of the difficulties in organisational change are related to people and how well they adapt to new things.
People’s ability to adapt, engage with, and accept something new is affected by their change fitness. So, what is change fitness? It’s a person’s psychological fitness to meet the demands of each step of the change process. There are 7 key change fitness resources that people need to be good at handling change. If any of these is low, your risks of failure increase. Follow the link above to learn more about change fitness.
So, here’s the point: if the employees and leaders in a business have low change fitness, the business isn’t ready for change. They may be ready to start, but they aren’t ready to succeed. They’re ready to run into some serious resistance.
But this is not all bad news because change fitness can be developed. If your business has a low change fitness quotient, you can do something about it. You can read what to do about it here.
The second implication has to do with communication. Research conducted over a 40-year period provided some very important insights into communication and change readiness. Here’s the message: what, how, and how often you communicate influences how ready you are.
There are 5 key messages you need to communicate clearly, often, and in different ways to get buy-in and engagement. If you don’t get these messages out there, you may experience high levels of disengagement and resistance.
The third implication relates to the competency and capacity of the people who lead your change project. How they lead and manage change affects your readiness to succeed. Your leaders must be strong in 4 areas. They must:
- Be highly change-fit themselves
- Know how to deliver best-practice change management practices
- Have the capacity to lead others through each step of the change process
- Be able to do all this within a complex and ambiguous environment
Change leaders need a deep understanding of the change process. It is critical to think of the change process, not simply the change project. They need to understand change fitness and change readiness. And they need to know how to navigate complexity.
The 4 areas referred to above have the greatest impact on change management. For that reason, it’s important to assess them whenever you embark on organisational change.
But there is one other area that impacts your change readiness long-term. It’s your organisational culture.
Your organisational culture affects your change readiness in diverse and complex ways. This is not something to discuss when you’re planning a change, but here’s the thing. If your organisation’s culture is toxic to change readiness, then you are always going to have a problem with change. No need to address this in any detail here, but we can discuss this with you if you think you might have a problem here.
The Change Gym Difference
Many people think change readiness is about getting ready for change – in the sense of being prepared and getting people on the same page. They see it as readiness to begin a change project.
We see it as readiness for the change process – and not just readiness to begin, but readiness to succeed.
We see that when change fitness, communications, competency, and culture come together in harmony, only then is the organisation truly ready for change.
And if an organisation is not ready to succeed, should we be surprised when it doesn’t? It would be more surprising if it did.