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Change Readiness

Want your organization to change? Help people move into change readiness first. Here's what the research says...

Establish beliefs to support the change you want.

Change readiness is one of the most important drivers of employee support for change initiatives at work. Change readiness happens when people believe a change is necessary, desirable, and feasible1,2,6,8,14.

Peek into a course description for Accelerating Change Readiness, Agility, and Flexibility at UCBerkeley's Haas School of Business by Dr. Homa Bahrami, researcher in "super-flexibility:"

People become ready for change as 5 key beliefs form.

Change readiness includes several dimensions6,7:

  1. Discrepancy (is there a gap between where our organization is and where we need to be?)
  2. Organizational Valence (will change benefit my organization?)
  3. Personal Valence (will change benefit me?)
  4. Management Support (are leaders committed to change?)
  5. Self-Efficacy (is change feasible?)

Expect people who are all-in already to become most easily ready for change.

People with high levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment are more likely to experience and exhibit change readiness9,10,11,12,13.

Participation aids change readiness.

There is a strong reciprocal relationship between change readiness and participation. People who participate in change tend to experience greater change readiness. Reciprocally, change readiness predicts future participation and change engagement3,4,7.

Some people will have an easier time becoming change-ready than others.

Individual characteristics like high self-efficacy, a problem solving orientation, and openness to change link to change readiness4,12.

Workplace factors can also promote change readiness.

Change readiness is better in organizations with:

  • more autonomy and decision-making in job design
  • stronger social support
  • a more flexible work culture
  • clearer information sharing
  • sufficient resources and capabilities4,5,10,11,12.

Think about change readiness as a sort of organizational fitness:

References

  1. Armenakis, A. A., & Harris, S. G. (2009). Reflections: Our journey in organizational change research and practice. Journal of Change Management, 9(2), 127–142. https://doi.org/10.1080/14697010902879079
  2. Armenakis, A. A., Harris, S. G., & Mossholder, K. W. (1993). Creating readiness for organizational change. Human Relations, 46(6), 681–703. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872679304600601
  3. Coch, L., & French, J. R. P. (1948). Overcoming resistance to change. Human Relations, 1(4), 512–532. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872674800100408
  4. Cunningham, C. E., Woodward, C. A., Shannon, H. S., MacIntosh, J., Lendrum, B., Rosenbloom, D., & Brown, J. (2002). Readiness for organizational change: A longitudinal study of workplace, psychological and behavioural correlates. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 75(4), 377–392. https://doi.org/10.1348/096317902321119637
  5. Eby, L. T., Adams, D. M., Russell, J. E. A., & Gaby, S. H. (2000). Perceptions of organizational readiness for change: Factors related to employees’ reactions to the implementation of team-based selling. Human Relations, 53(3), 419–442. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726700533006
  6. Ford, J. K., & Foster-Fishman, P. (2012). Organizational Development and Change: Linking Research from the Profit, Nonprofit, and Public Sectors (S. W. J. Kozlowski, Ed.). Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199928286.013.0029
  7. Holt, D. T., Armenakis, A. A., Feild, H. S., & Harris, S. G. (2007). Readiness for organizational change: the systematic development of a scale. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 43(2), 232–255. https://doi.org/10.1177/0021886306295295
  8. Holt, D. T., & Vardaman, J. M. (2013). Toward a comprehensive understanding of readiness for change: The case for an expanded conceptualization. Journal of Change Management, 13(1), 9–18. https://doi.org/10.1080/14697017.2013.768426
  9. Ingersoll, G. L., Kirsch, J. C., Merk, S. E., & Lightfoot, J. (2000). Relationship of organizational culture and readiness for change to employee commitment to the organization. The Journal of Nursing Administration, 30(1), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005110-200001000-00004
  10. Madsen, S. R., Miller, D., & John, C. R. (2005). Readiness for organizational change: Do organizational commitment and social relationships in the workplace make a difference? Human Resource Development Quarterly, 16(2), 213–234. https://doi.org/10.1002/hrdq.1134
  11. McNabb, D. E., & Sepic, F. T. (1995). Culture, climate, and total quality management: measuring readiness for change. Public Productivity & Management Review, 18(4), 369–385. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3663059
  12. Rafferty, A. E., Jimmieson, N. L., & Armenakis, A. A. (2013). Change readiness: A multilevel review. Journal of Management, 39(1), 110–135. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206312457417
  13. Shah, N., Irani, Z., & Sharif, A. M. (2017). Big data in an HR context: Exploring organizational change readiness, employee attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Business Research, 70, 366–378. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2016.08.010
  14. Vakola, M. (2013). Multilevel readiness to organizational change: A conceptual approach. Journal of Change Management, 13(1), 96–109. https://doi.org/10.1080/14697017.2013.768436