Evans Incorporated

Thrive in Five: Determining Change Readiness

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of July is Change Management and Communications.

Picture this: Your team is about to experience a change big enough to cause some rough waters if not approached with care. You’ve taken the time to develop a change management plan, which includes consideration about the importance of communications throughout the change. You feel like you’ve done as much as you can to set the change up for success, but how do you know when your team is ready for the change?

This Thrive in Five focuses on determining change readiness before implementing a change.

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The Chain of Change Readiness

Determining whether your organization is ready for change is a lot like examining a chain’s individual links to see if the chain is going to hold under tension. Change is tension, and there are many links involved in keeping the chain strong during change. Each link has a certain amount of risk for breaking, so we need to evaluate each link for susceptible areas so we know where we need to focus efforts and keep an eye on throughout the change process.

The first few links evaluated have to do with the individual program:

  • Drivers– What is the motivation for the change? How strong and sustainable is this motivation? Is everyone involved aligned regarding priorities and motivations?
  • Conditions– Are there external factors affecting the change? Is the timing appropriate to optimize success?
  • Characteristics– Is the change practical for the program? How technically complex is the change? How many people are affected by this change? Which behaviors will have to change? Is the program’s infrastructure built to support the change?

The chain of change readiness
Next, we have to understand the change capacity of the organization:

  • Management– Are leaders supportive of the change? How will performance be affected and measured? Are these changes aligned with what is desired? Can the organization support the change communication with the appropriate tools, processes and mechanisms?
  • Knowledge Base– Have people been trained appropriately to support the change? Is there a resource available to give assistance if needed?
  • Institutional Framework– Do the company’s policies and procedures inhibit the change in any way or are they affected by the change? How will the organizational culture affect the change? Are there clear roles and responsibilities throughout the organization? How will the organization’s structure impact the change initiative?
  • Resources– Do the staff have enough “extra” time to dedicate effort and attention to the change? Can the organization financially support the changes? Does the infrastructure enhance the change or does it need to change to best support it?

Apply the Five!

Remember our hypothetical situation where your team was about to experience a change? Now we want you to think of a real situation that is either occurring now or happened previously.

Think through each individual link above and see what you can do to evaluate its strength. Have you looked at each one already? If not, what are you missing? What more do you need to do?

If your scenario is one of the past, evaluate how well you or the organization did in determining the strength of each link. Could preparation have been better? What could have been done differently to get a better outcome? Which links held strong? Which links started to bend or even break in the pressure of the change?

Doing a “lessons learned” of past scenarios and taking the time initially to evaluate change readiness risks will help ensure the success of the change initiative.

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Beth Zimmerman!

Sticking with the theme of change, this is one of Beth’s favorite walks – checking out the Smithsonian Castle garden which is re-designed and re-planted with the changing seasons.

As someone who works with organizations to strengthen their effectiveness, I deal a good bit with change. One of the things that I look for and encourage in readying an organization for change is leadership investment in the change. What specifically can you do as a leader, or to support your leaders in doing, to help make a change successful? Some things I’ve observed as key behaviors include:

  • Talking about why the change is important to the organization, and connecting the change to the organization’s mission
  • Providing forums where stakeholders can ask questions and express their concerns, listening closely to what is being expressed, and taking different viewpoints into account in shaping and refining the change approach
  • Garnering support for and addressing resistance to the change
  • Making resources available to support the initiative
  • Investing their own time in actively participating throughout the change process, not just at the beginning.

Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

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