5 Ways to Enhance Change Readiness
There are some things we just can’t do. Turn on a country music station and before long you’re likely to hear a song about unrequited love. It pains to be in love and not have that love returned. But the fact is you can’t make someone love you.
Neither can you make someone ready for change. You can force people to change, but you can’t make them ready. Readiness, like love, is a product of how someone sees the world, how they operate, what they want, how they think, how they feel. Forcing change on people may deliver the outcome you want, but it may also deliver outcomes you don’t want – like resistance, negativity, resentment, low motivation. These unwanted outcomes can damage your organisational culture and make future change harder to achieve.
You can’t make people love you, but how you behave towards them will have some impact on how they respond to you. Similarly, how leaders behave will have some influence on how people respond to change. Here are 5 things leaders can do that give people the best opportunity to respond in ways that foster change readiness.
1. Lead, don’t manage.
The type of leadership you provide will influence whether readiness thrives in your business. Scholars have identified 3 main types of leaders. There are laissez-faire leaders. These leaders don’t even attempt to lead or manage. They let staff do their own thing, and only step in when there are problems. At the other end of the scale there are transactional leaders. These people are more managers than leaders. They issue punishments for people who don’t comply with their directions, and rewards for those who do. The leaders who have the best chance of promoting change readiness are transformational leaders. These are true leaders – they model change rather than direct it. They inspire rather than instruct.
2. Build trust.
Trust is critical in organisational life, and without it you’re unlikely to see much change readiness. Workers need to trust that leaders have their best interests at heart. Leaders need to trust that workers have more than their personal interests at heart. And workers need to trust each other.
3. Foster positive conversations.
What people say reflects what they think. What is said also shapes what they think. Leaders need to ensure positive conversations circulate around the workplace. Such conversations about change make it more likely to succeed.
4. Encourage supportive relationships.
Change readiness develops best in environments where people trust, understand, and appreciate each other. Most organisations don’t exist to provide social engagement for people, but there’s no denying that organisations provide social settings. Positive social settings are more likely to engender readiness than negative ones.
5. Train for readiness.
Although you can’t make people ready for change, you can provide change readiness training that will help them develop readiness. The right kind of training will bring great rewards back to your business.
Enhancing the change readiness of your staff helps your business become adaptable, innovative, and resilient. In the long run it makes you more competitive and secure in changing environments.
Published on 16th February 2012