🎨The ART of Change Leadership: ReadyAug 15, 2022
ART represents the goals and outcomes for lasting individual change, which is foundational for organizational changes. Once stakeholders are aware of the change, they decide whether they are ready to accept and adopt it.
In this post, we’re diving into what it means to be ready to change at the individual level.
What it Means to be Ready
Once a person becomes aware of the change, they start to form thoughts and feelings about it. These thoughts and feelings are based on what they understand about the change - its reasons, impacts, and benefits - combined with their past experiences with change in the organization, the current level of leadership support, their own capacity for change, and other factors.
When an individual is ready for change, it means they have processed their thoughts and feelings and are now motivated, or at least willing, to modify their behaviors to make the change a success. Change readiness, in other words, is a sign that stakeholders buy into the reasons for changing because they understand what’s in it for them (WIIFM) or agree that the change will be of benefit to the business.
In Apogy's certification program, we teach change leaders the following core concepts related to the Ready stage:
(1) People are ready and motivated to change (buy-in).
(2) They understand the goals and benefits for changing.
(3) They have the right mindset and feel valued / supported.
What Being Ready Feels Like
When stakeholders are ready to change, they feel informed, valued, and supported by their leadership. This is important because all change, even change that is positive, can still be hard for people to accept. Leaders can support end users in feeling ready by (1) being as clear as possible about what to expect with the change and (2) by showing compassion, which can be as simple as acknowledging that learning something new or modifying engrained ways of working can be difficult.
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), letting people know what isn’t changing can also be a powerful lever for accelerating stakeholder readiness. When organizational changes of any type are communicated, it is common for people to feel a loss of control. Reinforcing the factors that will stay the same can be reassuring, especially during periods of change and disruption.
Another way leaders can empower their teams to feel ready is by helping them prioritize their work to accommodate the impacts related to the change. For example, learning how to use a new software system will require training and practice during work hours, which means the weekly to-dos will need to shift temporarily. Be clear about how team members should adjust their priorities, so they have the capacity required to learn, practice, and make the new process, system, or structural change a success.
Finally, leaders have a responsibility to model the way forward. As Bret Taylor, Co-CEO of Salesforce once said, “Change is not a solo sport.” Change at the organization level is a team effort based on many individual decisions to give the new ways of working and behaving a try.
How Change Leaders Help Individuals Feel Ready
When it comes to realizing lasting change, mindset matters. Change leaders can help stakeholders adopt the right mindset by linking the reasons for changing to the big picture vision and goals. This helps people connect the dots between the change, their role in the change, and how the extra effort required to change contributes to the organization’s bottom-line performance. Making this connection is important because it encourages the mindset that meaningful change takes effort, but the effort is worth it.
Another way change leaders can help individuals feel ready is by communicating their own reasons for making the change a priority and sharing real-life examples of what the desired behaviors “look like”. This enables stakeholders to visualize the future state with them in it, and thereby turn the desired outcomes and behaviors into real actions.
Change leaders can also use coaching and other resilience-building interventions to support individual readiness for change. This includes helping stakeholders replace self-concerns by reflecting on their reaction to the change, reinforcing new behaviors with practice and experimentation, and rewarding individual efforts to make the change a success.
Readiness for Change at the Organization Level
Organizational readiness for change is expressed in terms of agility, or how quickly the organization can adapt and take advantage of opportunities. Organizational agility reflects what the collective is capable of when they recognize that change is how business strategy gets delivered and behave accordingly.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), “Change readiness takes a critical look at the organization's resolve, fit, and capacity to successfully deliver the benefits of a proposed program or project, and initiates appropriate actions to bring a current state of readiness to one of confidence in long-term success of the program/project outcomes.”
Change leaders can evaluate organizational readiness during pre-planning, or what Apogy refers to as the Define phase. Apogy’s Organization Impact Assessment determines how ready the organization is for the change based on a composite of certain attributes, including culture, leadership, experience, capability, collaboration, capacity, resilience, and well-being. This information informs the overall change management strategy by helping change leaders determine where to focus and what interventions to use to improve the collective’s readiness for more change.
Closing the Loop on Being Ready
All change starts at the individual level, meaning individuals will feel ready to change at their own pace after deciding to buy in and move forward. Change leaders can help stakeholders feel ready to embrace the change more quickly by leveraging the techniques and tools discussed.
Want to dive deeper into the ART framework and how to apply it to your unique business situation and change? Become an Apogy certified Change Leader!
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