The Four Must-Have’s in Order to Build Readiness for Change

Posted by Paula Alsher on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 12:03 PM

How many changes does your organization have planned for this upcoming year? We are guessing it’s quite a few. Whether your plate is full with organization restructuring, new technology, process improvement, or any other change where people need to do things differently, you will ultimately be faced with two options: You can either invest in building readiness now, or you can spend your resources managing resistance later. You can’t avoid this dilemma; it’s inevitable! But the good news is that you do have a choice, and the best choice is pretty obvious. Readiness for Change

If you can build readiness early in the project and continue while the change is going into effect, you’ll save yourself a lot of time, energy, and resources. In other words, building readiness is faster and cheaper than paying for it later in resistance. Worth it? We think so. So, where do you begin?


The First Step in the Journey to Readiness

The first step in building readiness for change is ensuring you have a clear definition of success. Specifically, 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. So in order to build readiness and achieve value realization, you will first need to identify the human objectives for your change. Execution accelerates when these new behaviors are identified and immediately reinforced.


Four Must-Have’s to Build Readiness

Once your change is clearly defined against all 5 metrics for implementation success (on time, on budget, with all business, technical, and human objectives met), there are four must-have factors in building organizational readiness. Here’s an in-depth look at each one.


Sponsor Capacity:

Sponsorship is the single most important factor in ensuring a fast and successful implementation. We are talking about the daily, demonstrated commitment of managers who have direct reports that are impacted by the change. These Sponsors drive the change through their words and behaviors every day. There are three very specific actions every Sponsor must demonstrate visibly to drive the adoption of change.

  • They must Express commitment to the change
  • Model commitment to the new behaviors and
  • Reinforce the behaviors you are seeking to see

To drive change even faster, Sponsors must cascade the change down through every level of the organization. Think of a waterfall that starts at the top and gains speed and force as it tumbles down to the river below.  That's the power of cascading sponsorship!


Target Readiness: 

In order to build readiness for change Targets need to be provided with the following 4 things:

  1. Information- Individuals need the answer to "What does this change mean to me?"
  2. Motivation to Make the Change- 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?
  3. Ability- People will not be "ready" unless they have the skills and knowledge to do things in the new way. 
  4. Confidence-  is gained by giving people lots of practice opportunities, immediately followed by feedback on their performance.  

Cultural Fit:

Your corporate culture is the collective pattern of behaviors, values, and "unwritten rules" that every organization develops over time. When you are dealing with a change that has cultural implications, you are ultimately left with two very difficult options. You can “change the change” so that you strip it of anything that doesn’t fit culturally, or you can change the culture.

If culture change is the path you choose, a series of workshops that describe the new culture, or communications from the top about what you want the new culture to be are not going to be enough. The only way to implement true culture change is to integrate the behavioral elements of the new culture into the daily business activities, while dramatically changing the reinforcements—that is, the positive and negative consequences that managers apply on a daily basis with their direct reports. 


Agent Capacity:
Change Agents are individuals who have assigned responsibility for implementation success. These may be people working on a corporate project team or in a field location or business unit.  Your Change Agents must have the right skills, traits, and knowledge required to be effective.

You will need to set up a Change Agent structure and ensure these individuals have the skills and knowledge to drive the implementation.  It's critical for Change Agents to have trust and credibility with both the Sponsors and the Targets.  


There is no doubt building readiness for change takes time, energy, and resources. Ensuring you have the four factors of Sponsorship, Target Readiness, Cultural Fit and Agent Capacity allows you to build readiness at speed {Tweet This}. But remember if you don’t put the effort in now, you’ll be paying for it later in resistance.

New Call-to-Action

Topics: Change Readiness