Move Over Change Management, It’s Time for Change Readiness

How often do you think about change at work? Most likely, only when there’s a new change initiative at hand. Like the mass shift to remote work in lockdowns, for instance, or restructuring after a merger or acquisition.

But responding reactively instead of proactively to change results in missed opportunities for growth and innovation — especially in today’s exponentially fast-changing world. A core component of your business today might be outdated tomorrow. Look no further than Netflix: the streaming giant’s original value proposition was to provide a premium, ad-free TV experience. But declining subscribers forced it to innovate a previously unthinkable offering: ad-supported plans.

Does it make sense that so many companies still try to “manage” change as a one-time event? Successful change is essential to survival but the standard measures have been around since the ‘80s. It’s no wonder that most change initiatives fail. Organizations and their employees simply aren’t prepared.    

70% of change initiatives fail.

It’s high time for a paradigm shift. Businesses must pivot from managing change as an event to embracing change as a process. This happens by building change readiness.    

What is Change Readiness?  

Change-ready organizations aren’t fearful of change and uncertainty. Instead, they're excited by the potential and possibilities they can unlock. They have the mindset, skills, and resources needed to quickly adopt or adapt to new ways of working when disruptions occur. And they’re always on the lookout for opportunities to create advantages for the business, minimize risk, and improve performance. As a result, they are more successful at change initiatives, enjoy greater innovation, growth & productivity, and are equipped to tackle the future.

You can’t force change from the top-down through “change ambassadors” and “executive sponsors.” Throw any buzzwordy title you like upon volunteer employees, but you won’t get results if your employee population isn’t equipped to adapt. Successful changes require participation from everyone in the organization, from independent contributors to senior leadership. To build change readiness, empower all employees to be change drivers who understand why the change is happening and how to navigate it. Otherwise, they’ll feel like unwilling change passengers forced on a rollercoaster ride in darkness.    

3 Key Ingredients for Building Change Readiness  

Companies that adapt to change manage to survive when it happens. But companies that treat change as a continuous process — they ride the currents and thrive. Such companies are the ones that have adopted Volonte’s Change Readiness Equation. Developed by our change experts, it’s a simple formula that captures the three essential ingredients of any change-ready organization.

1. Encourage Engagement  

Humans tend to fear uncertainty. That’s why it’s critical to start by helping your employees develop a mindset for adaptability and welcoming change. This may sound fuzzy but don’t underestimate its power. Research shows that [employee resistance]( is one of the biggest drivers of change failure.

Prepare employees for change by equipping them with the skills and knowledge they need to adapt. Along with upskilling/reskilling programs, focus on developing the softer skills needed for adaptability. Think resilience, critical thinking, creativity, and a growth mindset. Also educate them on the big picture of your organization, your industry, and overall workplace evolution. You will foster engagement and better prepare employees to adapt by offering these skills and resources. Curated, engaging content is a great way to do this, along with mentorship and workshops.  

2. Enable Mobility  

If you want employees to overcome resistance and support change, you must treat them as important stakeholders. You can enable mobility in multiple ways. Give employees the chance to volunteer for projects with cross-functional teams dedicated to a common business goal. You’ll foster employee development while improving inter-departmental coordination and productivity.

Also leverage stretch projects — short-term assignments that are beyond an employee’s current knowledge or skills. These valuable skill-building experiences and have a huge impact on unleashing employee potential. Short-term transfers and increased internal recruiting are other great options. The key is to offer employees avenues to shape their own future and that of your organization.  

3. Empower Productivity

Along with the right mindset and opportunities, your employees need innovative new tools to help manage change as a process instead of an isolated event. Instead of getting lost in change noise, help employees understand why change is happening, what's expected of them, and what's in it for them. Break down large change initiatives into manageable, bite-sized actions and behaviors that employees can incorporate into their day-to-day work routines. By giving your workforce this level of clarity, you can ensure that change work becomes integrated into your organization's daily operations, without distracting from any employee's core responsibilities. It’s up to you to empower employees to unlock greater innovation, productivity, and growth no matter the challenge.

Become a Change Ready Organization

Change readiness starts with empowering your employees with the tools they need to thrive through change. We’ve created Volonte with this in mind. Our enterprise change management platform enables you to create employee buy-in for change, simplify change worklfows, and seamlessly measure real-time progress. Schedule a conversation to see how.