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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Culture of Change Readiness - Best way to overcome resistance to change

Making Changes within your Organisation? – Maybe you need to assess the extent to which your organization is ready.

Organisational sustainability and change go hand-in-hand. Many organisations introduce change, or initiate and plan for change, in response to a wide range of internal and external triggers. For some it could be the result of key staff departures providing the opportunity to review and potentially refresh the organizational structure. For others it could be the result of difficulties with the external environment necessitating changes to long standing business models that have not been previously challenged.

Such changes can be viewed in many different ways by the staff within the organisation. Some will view these potential changes as opportunities by virtue of embracing the unknown whilst improving whatever the shortcomings of the existing position may have been.  Others will view them as threats by virtue of being uncomfortable with the unknown and the sense of possible loss of position, control, influence or power.

Research in this field of change management and specifically in the area of “organizational readiness for change” has been extensive over the years. Some have contested that the lack of change readiness may be a key reason for organisations failing in their attempts to manage the changes that are introduced. Others have suggested that organisations that display high levels of internal flexibility and a change ready culture are far better able to adapt and absorb changes as they come up.

A further approach has been to suggest that the management of change may in fact be more successful if continuous change is the norm within the organisation, rather than focusing on specific changes at particular moments in time. This implies a more fluid approach to change rather than an ‘episodic’ approach characterised by piecemeal changes as and when they are perceived as being needed.

Alongside this recognition regarding the readiness for change, is the associated research regarding change resistance, which in many ways represents the two sides of the one coin, in that the more ready the organisation is to actively and positively work with change, the less change resistance and therefore the more likelihood of successful change outcomes.

Currently, my own PhD research being undertaken in the Not-for-Profit hospital sector reinforces this duality of change readiness and change resistance and highlights a broad range of characteristics which shape change readiness. Whilst skill and care may be applied to change management via effective project management, this latter activity does not recognize the emotional aspects of change as felt by those that are experiencing the change.  As such, good project management does not equate to good change outcomes. Understanding your staff responses to change must represent the other side of the ‘mechanistic’ aspects of change.

In response to this research, OPTIMUM NFP has developed the ‘CARC Program (Cultural Assessment for Readiness for Change)’, a process for evaluating change readiness within your organisation, using a range of qualitative research techniques to assess your organisations readiness to work with, and absorb, proposed changes. Information gleaned from this process can then be incorporated into the change program to effectively reinforce the process and achieve better change outcomes.

Happy to hear from organisational managers wishing to further discuss the process by which this research at your organisation can deliver positive outcomes witih regard future change management outcomes. Contact David Rosenbaum at OPTIMUM NFP for a no obligation discussion on how the CARC Program can be economically applied to your organisation – before the next change!

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