While many organizations hope a series of informational emails from top executives combined with a few half-day training sessions for end users will work to build Target Readiness for an organizational change, these tactics are rarely enough. The fact is, no amount of communication is going to magically make people change their behavior. And while important, end-user training is just one piece of the Readiness puzzle.
One of the most common mistakes we see in our change management consulting work is when organizations don’t spend the time, energy and resources to properly build Readiness. Ensuring you have the four factors of Sponsorship, Cultural Fit, Agent Capacity and Target Readiness allows you to build Readiness at speed. But, if Target Readiness is not just about Communication and training where do you start?
The Journey to Readiness Starts with Defining Success
The first step in building Readiness for a change is ensuring you have a clear definition of success. Specifically, you need to identify the “human objectives” of your change. In other words, what will people actually be doing differently as a result of your change and how will you know it when you see it?
This becomes critical because “behavior” is the only thing you can measure on a daily basis. Implementation (the achievement of all 5 metrics of on time, on budget, with all technical, business and human objectives met) can only be gained when you define the behaviors associated with the change then apply Reinforcements to encourage the new behaviors and discourage the old.
5 Components of Target Readiness
In order to increase the speed of organizational Readiness, Targets of the change must have the following 5 elements:
- Information - This Information must give individual's the context for the change and answer the question, "What does this change mean to me?"
- Willingness - Targets will not automatically adopt the new processes or the new technology. What Reinforcements are going to be put in place to make individuals feel like it is better to move to the future than it is to stay in the present?
- Ability - Targets need to be given the skills to be successful in the future state. Training should be performance based, meaning it is designed based on the specific skills and knowledge learners need to do their jobs. It should provide ample practice opportunities, immediately followed by feedback on performance of those skills.
- Confidence - Just because people have been through training doesn't automatically mean they will use the skills they learned back on the job. It's just human nature for people to only try out new things when they are confident they will be successful. This confidence is gained by giving people lots of practice opportunities, immediately followed by feedback on their performance.
- Control - If you want to generate the maximum amount of resistance, just tell people what they have to do and how they need to do it! Remember the 3 I’s of Influence, Input and Involvement. Giving Targets a sense of control is key if you want your change to be implemented with less resistance and at speed.
Don’t Forget to Take Frame of Reference into Account
In the AIM Change Management Methodology there is an important principle that states, “Readiness is based on the perceptions of the Targets, not on the perceptions of the Sponsors or Agents.” This sounds so obvious, but it is easy to forget in the rush to get to launch.
Remember, each of us brings our own background, values, perceptions and experiences to our jobs. And, peoples' perceptions are their reality. New systems may be exciting to you, but they may be intimidating to Targets who aren't as comfortable with technology. For example, a physician who must now use an electronic medical records system may not feel comfortable with his or her keyboarding skills. No one wants to look incompetent!
TIP: AIM’s Individual Readiness Assessment tool helps project teams understand how the change is perceived from the Target's Frame of Reference.
While you will never achieve 100% Readiness for a change, developing a Readiness Strategy needs to be an integral part of your Implementation Plan. By investing in Readiness early, you will save a lot of time and energy in managing resistance later. But remember, no matter how much planning you do, the most impactful interventions will be those that are unplanned and in the moment. Using the AIM Change Management Methodology allows you to plan for Readiness but be ready for moment by moment changes! Are you ready?