“Change is the only constant in business today.” That’s a popular phrase that’s been uttered more times than anyone can count, but how do we ensure that our company’s readiness for change is as constant as the change itself?
It’s not incorrect or an exaggeration to say change is a constant; change is happening every single day, and it’s the responsibility of company leaders and communication teams to prepare employees to be change-ready. New people get hired, employees retire or leave the company, a new product is introduced, the company moves – the types of changes are endless. What’s important is that employees are prepared for change, welcome it and make it the new norm.
According to a study by Cy Wakeman, there is a 0.97 correlation (with 1 being a perfect correlation) between employees being ready for change and therefore finding change easy, and employees being unready and therefore finding the change difficult. It’s that change-ready mindset that separates an organization that’s quick on its feet, adaptable and ready for the future from a business that struggles to keep up and sees change as an endless mountain to climb.
Change management is now viewed by some experts as reactionary. It was about putting out the fires that arose from change, and making sure the employees were still onboard after the change had already taken place. And it was only helpful until the next change had to be endured. Change readiness is about being proactive. It’s ensuring employees are agile and adaptable, that they understand the rationale for change, and are invited to shape and drive the change initiative as much as possible.
Wakeman says the difference is this: change management emphasizes avoiding disruption to employees; change readiness focuses on making changes that are least disruptive to the business. Change management coddles employees; change readiness empowers them.
So how do we move from change management to change readiness? It’s a shift in mindset and culture, according to Wakeman. She advocates holding employees accountable for their role in effecting the change. And, she favors explaining to employees what the change is and the outcomes it is intended, and then asking how they plan to meet those goals.
In traditional change management, it’s common for employees to feel unready when change is perceived as a leadership-only, behind-closed-doors initiative that is suddenly announced to employees. Instead, change readiness occurs when employees are responsible for achieving incremental, sustainable business process improvement. This kind of inclusive change readiness teaches employees how to deal with setbacks and obstacles and become accustomed to frequent, smaller shifts, which helps to prepare them for large-scale change.
We don’t have to – and frankly shouldn’t – demand that every employee will enjoy every change because that’s simply unrealistic. But a company can train employees to be ready and adaptable to change by creating a culture where experimentation, innovation and quick recovery from failure are part of the norm. Remember, change is going to happen whether employees are prepared or not, so ensuring they’re ready can make all the difference for the success, happiness and continued growth of employees and the company.
For more information on how Vitiello Communications Group (VTLO) can help you develop a change- ready workforce, call us at 732-238-6622 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.