The change implementation process in an organisation is never an easy one and varied complexities may arise along the way. Some of the complexities may result from the type of change being implemented be it around processes, structures, culture or instituting new ways of working. It is important to assess and evaluate the organisation’s readiness and the people’s receptiveness to successfully transition to the desired change. This helps plan out the right implementation plan for the process.

Successful change is hinged on a number of factors the most critical of which is leadership. According to Prosci®, the number one predictor of change success or failure rests with leadership. Managers and leaders have the ability to influence how the organisation adopts change. They acknowledge that change can be difficult on people and therefore understand the need to support and motivate those impacted by it towards acceptance and stepping out of their comfort zones.

In view of this, there are a number of ways leaders can ensure their teams are ready for change.
Provide the Change Vision: Leaders have a critical role in painting a clear picture of what the future will look like once the change has been implemented and how it will benefit everyone. Sharing the change vision helps inspire positive actions and creates understanding of what is being left or sacrificed for a positive future. A compelling vision creates the necessary energy to pull the team towards a common purpose.

1. Ensure Team Engagement

In our experience working with organisations implementing change, we have witnessed a direct correlation between staff engagement and how successfully an organisation can deliver its intended change outcomes. We have seen that poor staff engagement compounds the organisation’s ability to shift and increases the difficulty of delivering a successful change process. This is a critical aspect to consider in building a readiness process where leaders can positively influence change by determining existing levels of engagement and actively addressing the barriers to engagement.

2. Clarify Communication

Communication towards the upcoming change is critical and an important factor in the readiness for the process. Clear communication serves to clarify why the change is being implemented, what is the risk of not changing and how the change will be undertaken. During times of change, communication delivered by leaders is critical in enhancing the organisation’s preparedness to implement the change effort. The leaders’ role in communicating the business reasons for the change is critical as it positively impacts understanding and acceptance therefore affecting the attitude of receptiveness.

3. Assess Organisational Capacity

A full understanding of an organisation’s capacity to change is critical from the onset. If a number of changes are being implemented at the same time, the organisation could easily experience change saturation thus limiting its ability to absorb new change which impacts overall change readiness. In this instance, the leader’s role is critical in prioritising the changes that will have the most significant impact and will move the organisation forward. This may necessitate putting some changes on hold, or re-sequencing implementation of certain changes to provide greater organisational capacity.

Evaluating change readiness is a critical step when implementing change that should not be ignored. A number of critical actions/interventions may need to be deployed to enhance the organisations preparedness and the leader’s role is essential in ensuring the change is understood and that all factors influencing preparedness are addressed.

Nyawera Kibuka is the CEO, Change Advisor and Prosci® Advanced Instructor for East
Africa @ Cedar Consulting

Nyawera is passionate about seeing organisations manage change effectively and use
that capability as a competitive advantage. Change is not ‘warm and fuzzy’ but
requires a structured, intentional approach using the right tools and processes for the
desired business results to be realised.