Businesses often begin implementing change without a proper assessment of organisational preparedness to embrace change. Assessing and planning for change is critical and should not be bypassed at the onset since if you fail to plan; you plan to fail. Since planning for change takes time, it often competes with other business priorities and can be seen to be a distraction or unnecessary. Even if planning seems like something that can be skipped, we strongly recommend planning is prioritised as a foundational component of the change process.
As the change process starts, an assessment of the nature of the needed change is the starting line. This step has several aspects that must be critically examined as follows:
- What is changing: identify the processes, business structures, mindsets and behaviors, policies, sitting locations, etc.
- What is the scope of the change: this could cover departments, units, divisions, or the entire enterprise.
- What is the total staff population that will likely be impacted: this would look at the number of employees likely to be affected by the change.
- What is the estimated impact of the change: this could be estimated as high, medium, or low.
- What other changes are underway: to identify the scope and nature of those changes as well as how that affects the current change.
After assessing the nature of the change, it would be important to examine other organisational factors that contribute towards the delivery of the change.
- Organisational Culture
Culture encompasses the organisation’s values and behaviours that contribute to the unique business or organisational environment. The culture influences how communication is delivered, who the senders of communication are, what channels are used, and how messages are likely to be received.
- Change Capacity
According to Prosci® 2018 best practice in change management study, 77% of the respondents reported that they were near, at, or past the point of change saturation. This is an important aspect to assess when planning the change as it informs what tactics or strategies should be incorporated in the change strategy.
- Past changes
We have shared in past articles that when an organisation has a history of failed changes, a new change is likely to be met with resistance and skepticism as individuals who are impacted by the change will view the change through a lens from the past.
Also Read: Understanding Resistance To Change
In the Prosci® best practice research, as part of organisational change readiness, participants also assessed the openness and general attitude of staff, their general receptiveness, and willingness to embrace change.
The results collected from the data above is the intelligence and insight needed to inform the design of the change management strategy and the activities and tactics to be used in order to move the organization through the change.
How To Conduct Change Readiness Assessment
There are several ways to assess organisational readiness before the implementation of a change including:
1. Change readiness surveys
This requires that the change team administer a manual or electronic survey on the areas listed above to the affected individuals, teams, and departments. The survey results will need to be analysed for application.
2. Focus groups
Focus groups drawn from representative groups in the organisation like grade, department, function or even geography are a great way of information gathering and gauging overall readiness of change. Well constructed focus groups reveal ideas on how to structure and deliver the change or the type of messages that should be shared, by whom, and when. Focus groups involve guided discussion on key areas mentioned above.
Interviews are another way to gather information. Interviews with managers and leaders are valuable when one on one as they will likely yield very interesting insights on readiness levels and the actions needing implementation to improve change preparedness and implementation.
Written By Nyawera Kibuka