As change professionals, we know how important readiness is. But how do you achieve the level of readiness that will ensure that major change is adopted and sticks? Before we dive in let’s define the word readiness in relation to change management. A quick Google search delivers this definition of readiness:

“the state of being fully prepared for something or the willingness to do something.”

When applied to change management, we need to consider both willingness and preparedness.

A mid-sized retailer is looking to add 6 stores in a new region. They have promoted 4 assistant managers to managers to operate new locations and hired the remaining two. The new managers participate in a 2-day manager orientation session to give them the skills they need as full-fledged managers and for opening a new store. However, 4 months into the opening process 3 of the 4 promoted assistant managers leave for jobs as assistant managers with competitors closer to home delaying the opening of the stores. The promoted assistant managers were given the training and tools they needed but eventually decided they were not willing to do the new job because of increased commute time and costs.

Readiness is important because it lessens the time needed for adoption and that increases the success rate of organizational change. So now that you know WHAT readiness is and WHY it’s important, I’ll explain three things you can do to ensure that readiness WILL happen.

1/ Focus on the individual, not the team

Readiness is an individual factor not a team or group thing. Because people will adopt or engage when they are personally ready, it’s important to identify which issues in particular are holding them back. Be sure to create a setting where team members feel comfortable sharing what would help them feel most ready for an upcoming change. You can do so by asking for open ended feedback not just asking people to fill out a multiple-choice survey. Let people tell you what matters most to them.

2/ Identify their individual style in order to get on their wavelength

At you-curve, we talk a lot about individual style in change management. Why? Because change always starts on an individual level and everyone has their own motivating factors. Some people are more detail oriented, some are more goal driven, some thrive on a team, while others prefer one-on-one conversations. The more time you spend getting to know the individual styles of your teammates the easier it will be to motivate them to embark on the organizational change journey. Think about it. Someone is much more likely to trust you when they feel like you really “get them”. Once you’ve got a clear understanding of the individual’s motivating factors, you’ll be able to adapt your readiness techniques to fit each style, and increase their readiness on their terms.

3/ Consider the stage of change

Which stage you’re at in the change process matters. Why? Because an individual’s needs vary depending on which stage they are experiencing.  Here is an example of a six-stage model…

The needs of someone that is Jumping In when the impact of the change to them personally is not known are very different than when they are at Rock Bottom and frustration is highest. Remember, readiness is built in at every stage of the curve. Instead of asking yourself, “how ready is this person to experience this change?” reframe the question to “how ready is this person to experience the next stage of this change process.” This will shape the kinds of support programs, communications and other tactics you provide.

The more effective you are at increasing readiness in each of your stakeholders, the more effective they will be to handle each stage and the faster they will reach adoption and success.