Often change leaders think of a situation in either of two ways. Some think of changing the organization and processes without thinking about the psychological state of the individual. They tend to see people as obstacles and as resistance.
Some, in addition, think of the individual psychological transitions as well. They try to analyze the impact of change, and the requirements for the psychological transitions at and individual level. They see the task as helping individuals overcome the psychological stresses and adaptations to what is changing around them.
Additionally, change leaders need to think of the collective psychological state the members of the organization is at. Change leaders need to think about how various social and work relationships and interactions positively or negatively facilitate change.
When a large subset of members share a psychological state that is pro-change, members are more likely to feel committed to implementing the change and feel more able and confident in their collective abilities to succeed. The positive collective mindset or mental model help members help one another in their task and also provide emotional support for the individual’s psychological transition. In other words, if there is collective consciousness, the change leader has many “helping hands” that will take care of the many tasks, emotional and relationship challenges.
There are several research papers that conceptualize this idea of a “collective psychological state” as organizational readiness for change. Some authors suggest that readiness for change accounts for up to half of all failures involving complex organizational change. They suggest that it is important to create a readiness for change and monitor that effort before change takes place.
Some researchers suggest that readiness for change has to be monitored at various levels - individual, team, business unit, and corporate level. Furthermore, readiness for change is multi-facet. For instance, whether people think/feel that:
They are able to carry out the change successfully;
Their leaders are committed to the change;
The change is important, beneficial and worthwhile for the organization;
The change will resonate with their personal values.
Although there are many ways to measure readiness for change, instruments are not equally valid or equally reliable. To measure readiness for change we have to try to weigh and understand the empirical evidence thus far, as well as those emerging. Human psychological technology development evolves and at a rapid rate. We owe it to our clients to use the most valid and reliable instruments available.
About the Authors
Dr. John Beck is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist who taught at Manchester Management School before coming to Singapore 30 years ago. He has been on the faculty of a number of Universities in S.E. Asia and has published extensively in the fields of management development and expatriate adjustment. He has consulted to a number of MNCs and local companies on Management and Organisational development projects, including SIA, DuPont, PSA and UOB .
Dr. Chia Ho-Beng is has a PhD in Organizational Behavior from the University of British Columbia in Canada and is a full time faculty with the Department of Management and Organisation at the National University of Singapore. He is the program director for several key custom corporate executive programs at the NUS Business School, and has taught on executive programs for P.T Astra International, Toshiba. Panasonic, Fujitsu, Citibank, Mizuho Bank, Sampath Bank, Asahi Glass Company, Daimler Chrysler, Nestle, Robinsons Group (Singapore), National Healthcare Group, Sanofi Aventis, Asia Development Bank, Alcatel, Telenor Group, Di