Change at an organizational level often accompanies a certain level of performance disruption. Whether there is a process modification which requires developing new routines for frontline employees or a learning curve associated with a new customer relationship management system for your sales team, there is commonly a temporary decrease in performance compared to the status quo. This disruption can be minimal or it can derail an initiative before it has a chance to contribute a benefit.
Example of Organizational Change
At InfoWorks, one of our clients announced a major reorganization without first assessing whether the employees were prepared for the change. All levels of the organization were understandably nervous. As a result, the highest performing employees were the first to leave, which created a significant risk in regard to whether the reorganization would succeed. Because of this, the client lost significant intellectual insights and knowledge key to the organization.
Preparing your team for change before moving forward with any large program which represents a deviation from the norm can be the difference between a lengthy business interruption and a minor pause.
How to Tell if Your Team is Ready for an Organizational Change
- The change has been fully defined and assigned a level of priority
- The organization understands the need to evolve at every level of employee
- Leaders are visibly committed to the transition
- There are available tools and infrastructure to deliver necessary training
A readiness to change assessment may identify any potential issues which could impact the success of a program.
For example, one client asked us to help them consolidate media spend with a goal of significant cost-savings. Change management was a necessary element in the project plan, to ensure their marketing divisions were informed and ready to adopt the newly developed processes. The project would likely have had limited or no success without the change champion network that was established. Read the case study for full details.
Assessing and Preparing for Transition
An assessment early in the planning process can help inform the communications plan and present a way for impacted stakeholders to feel a sense of inclusion and commitment. It also provides opportunity for the voice of frontline employees and the operations team to weigh into the initiative. We recommend including a broad spectrum of stakeholders from varying functional areas and levels, frontline to executive leadership, in the change assessment and stakeholder preparedness process. For long-term projects, consider repeating the assessment every few months to check in on progress and proactively monitor for potential problems.
What Questions Should You Ask Stakeholders to Gauge Readiness to Change?
Start your readiness to change assessment by feeling out what the “shop-talk” has been on the topic. End by asking for the interviewees input which could provide you with valuable direction while also drawing them into the process. Here are some good questions to get you started:
- What have you heard about this initiative?
- Is now the right time? Why or why not?
- What level of priority does this initiative have compared to other items on your plate?
- Does senior leadership and your management seem committed to this shift?
- What resources do you believe would make this a success?
- Who else should we consult?
Once you have a good idea of what the atmosphere around the change is, you can determine the appropriate next steps, such as:
- If the organization is uninformed, should communications increase?
- If leadership isn’t demonstrating commitment, would one-on-one coaching be enough to turn them around? Or do you need to establish incentives for success?
- Do you have the proper resources ready?
Once feedback is collected, it is always beneficial to share the anonymous results of your assessment with the stakeholders who participated. This builds trust and demonstrates the team takes feedback seriously. Further, it may encourage committed partners as you lead everyone through a successful organizational change.