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January 27, 2021

All you need to know about Change Readiness Assessment

Readiness Assessment

Simply put, people don’t like change. Have you ever tried to move desks in the office, for instance? It’s a small change in the grand scheme of things and yet it can be a disaster to manage. This is why it is fundamental to assess the readiness of the organization and of individuals for that change – so that the necessary support, mechanisms, and structure can be put in place to make change easier. In fact, let’s aim bigger – not just easier but enjoyable too! 

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Change Readiness Assessment, Readiness Assessment
Change Readiness Assessment

What is Change Readiness Assessment

A change readiness assessment does what it says on the tin: it assesses how ready an organization (or individual) is, how capable, and, as importantly, how willing it is to implement change. At its core, it provides the answer to 3 key questions that will determine the success or failure of the change initiative:

Do we have the capacity for change?

Capacity refers to the resources available to undertake change. It includes not just human resources but also time and financial resources, as well as the systems and tools to support change. Organizations have limited capacity for change and if lots of change is already being introduced, adding one more might not be well-received. Beware of change fatigue!

Do we have the capability required?

The change will not last unless there is the capability to sustain that change over time. This factor refers to the competencies required to lead and sponsor change, as well as to the strategies and plans in place to move from theory to practice. Are we equipping staff with the necessary training and coaching? Are we providing appropriate awareness and knowledge?

Do we have a culture that enables change?

The saying goes that culture eats strategy for breakfast, so it is essential not to forget the significant role the culture of an organization plays. If you have a great idea to be implemented but it is shut down at the earliest convenience by management or if you don’t get any empowerment to make change stick then this is not a change-related issue but a culture one. Readiness assessment at this level refers to the system of values, the system of rewards, accountability for change, and the existence of change champions, amongst others.

Change readiness assessment VS Change impact assessment

A change readiness assessment should not be confused with a change impact assessment. The first aims to assess if the organization and individuals would welcome change or not, the latter focuses on what the consequences of the change will be if introduced.

Advantages of Change Readiness Assessment

  • A readiness assessment offers a great opportunity to enquire about the response of the organization before attempting to roll-out change and, in doing so, it allows for change to be managed in a proactive rather than reactive way. 
  • Completing a change readiness assessment can take some time as you will want to cover and test as much as possible from the offset but will save you time later during implementation. 
  • For that reason, in the context of project management, change readiness assessments can also be used in preparing the handover to operations to ensure that a certain product or service can be effectively transitioned and embedded into business-as-usual. 
  • As part of that preparation, it is important to note that change readiness assessments can be also used at the individual level – often coupled with the change curve model – allowing for a targeted response from the change management team.

Purpose of a readiness assessment

The main purpose of a readiness assessment is therefore to support better change management planning, that is, to build plans that take into consideration the unique attributes and readiness levels of your organization and of individuals. In practice, the results of the assessment should enable decisions about the team size and competencies required to manage the change, the need (or not) for extra support from management, as well as it should provide a view of the risks and potential resistance for change. Additionally, it will empower the change manager to customize the training, communication, and engagement plans to suit readiness.

You might have the most capable team, the most solid training, and the most robust plans in place, however, if the organization and individuals are not ready for the upcoming change, these won’t be of much help, trust me.

At the end of the day, the change readiness assessment will confirm it: are you ready for change or simply ready for frustration? I hope you are ready for change.


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