How to assess if your employees are ready for change

Sep 14, 2022

You can be sure that your change process will fail if you do not start from the participants’ readiness for change. Here are 6 parameters to help you assess whether your employees are ready for change.

When implementing a change process, you will face a number of reactions to the change. Some are positive, some are more critical, and some are downright negative. They all reflect the change participants’ starting point for accepting and implementing the change process.

Therefore, it is relevant for you to know the expected change reactions and to assess the change readiness of your employees. Here is a brief review of the six parameters that typically arise for the participants.

1. Understanding

The first thing to identify for employees is the extent to which they understand the change. Do they understand why there is a need to change and adjust the familiar? For example, do they understand why you suddenly need to change your CRM system?

They may feel that the timing is bad for the work they need or are used to doing, and this can be a barrier to create understanding among change participants.

2. Motivation

Are employees motivated for the change? Can they see how the change can benefit them? For example, will they experience increased efficiency in carrying out day-to-day tasks? Or will the change even help to secure their jobs for the future?

The motivation may also lie primarily with the company. For example, the company may save licences by standardising a system, even if the system will cause more inconvenience for the employees concerned. Here, it is not a question of motivating the individual employee in the process, but of explaining why the change is necessary. It should never stop a change process that the individual employee is not motivated, but it is relevant to understand the (lack of) motivation of the participants.

3. Accountability

It is important to involve employees as participants in the change process. As a manager, you need to be clear about how different employees can contribute to the change. Identify actions for which each employee can be responsible and give them ownership.

By contributing to the change, employees begin to buy into a new understanding – and thus become part of the change.

4. Competencies

Do employees have the necessary skills and competencies to participate in the change? Are they able to run the meetings independently and effectively? Do staff have the necessary project management skills? Do they have the skills to receive and apply new learning?

The staff needs to learn what it means to participate in change, and this will cause both confusion and frustration along the way. This is to be expected, but it is also important that you have a plan for how they can acquire the necessary skills before and during the change process.

5. Information flow

Communication is key before, during and after a change process. Therefore, you need to develop a communication plan that provides overview, direction and is actionable.

It is also important to ensure a good flow of information throughout the process, so that change participants receive neither too much nor too little information – and that the necessary information reaches the right people at the right time.

6. Support

The last parameter you will see from change participants is the need for support. What each of them needs will vary from employee to employee and from team to team.

However, it is important to identify what kind of support will help employees understand, accept and talk about the change. Some will need support to build new skills. Others are too busy already and therefore need relief. Still, others need new resources or specific expertise.

Once you have identified the six parameters of the change participants, you will be able to assess the readiness of your employees for change and know where to intervene to best equip each employee to contribute to the change process.

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