We last left off discussing the virtues of people insights originating from key influencers and their informal networks as integral to successful organizational change. By establishing the importance of these informal networks, it stands to say that their general sentiments toward any change initiative is paramount to success. As expressed in a recent article on social networking, insight into the sentiments of these influential groups is instrumental to the success of any change initiative:

“In the business field, social network analysis is applied to gain insight into markets and communities, with the ‘social enterprise’ being the new necessity in order to manage knowledge, improvement, change, cooperation and risk.”

Consequently, as part of the digital transformation, organizations are turning more frequently to pulse surveys to understand the emotions and feelings of their workforce and gauge employee engagement. “So how, then, do we glean these insights?”

People Sentiments for Change

Sentiment analysis has been applied most recently to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to mine the opinions of online communities. By conducting an aggregated sentiment analysis, one can understand the sentiments of various stakeholder groups and their receptivity to planned change initiatives. Sentiment analysis, in general, is a means by which to elicit and decipher employee opinions, emotions, and attitudes expressed on online platforms.

In assessing change, the single-most critical factor is gaining insight into stakeholder perceptions about the impending change. Not only is it important to have a barometer on their awareness and understanding of the change, but it is increasingly important to gauge their sentiments about the change, particularly in the context of your organizational culture and history of change.

Organizational Change Readiness

In Daryl Conner’s Eight Stages of Building Commitment model (Figure 1), he highlights Positive Perception as critical to the Acceptance Phase for building commitment in support of change:

Figure 1. Conner’s Eight Stages of Building Commitment (Source: Connerpartners.com)

As they learn more about the initiative and the role(s) they are likely to play, people begin to see how it will affect their work and how it will touch them personally. Each person’s judgment is influenced by his or her own cognitive and emotional filter systems—the unique set of lenses that he or she uses to view the world.” (Source: Conner)

The charge then of any organization is to keep a pulse on the sentiments of its employees during organizational change and devise thoughtful interventions designed to nurture and build positive perceptions toward the change, what Conner simply calls a “deep, unwavering pledge”.

Today more than ever, given increasing complexity owing to factors such as globalization and digitalization, success in sustaining and institutionalizing change is predicated on stakeholder buy-in and adoption. Therefore, it’s important to incorporate an assessment instrument to gain insight into stakeholder sentiment and readiness as a leading indicator of program success.

Assessing People Readiness

An important first step in developing a change management strategy, and corresponding plan, is to conduct an organizational readiness assessment designed to provide insight into stakeholder preparedness for the change program. Tim Creasey, Prosci’s Chief Innovation Officer, and a globally recognized leader in change management, recommends three areas for collecting data from employees at the advent of change, namely:

  • The employee’s perception of the organization’s readiness for change
  • The employee’s personal readiness for change in general
  • The employee’s assessment of the change itself and how he or she perceives the personal impact of that change

Through a structured assessment process, you can better ascertain employees’ capacity and desire for change, as well as their perceptions about key attributes of the organization, notably leadership style and culture. The findings form the basis of change, communication, and coaching plans and activities designed to foster transparency and open communications.

Some projects require only that targets ‘do as they are told’. However, as the pace and complexity of change escalates, producing more turbulence in the workplace, many organizations have modified their views about workers needing to understand or support organizational changes.” Source: Daryl Conner

We contend assessing stakeholder sentiment and readiness provides insight to the various stakeholders and their awareness, understanding, and perception of impending change. Moreover, it’s vitally important to implement processes designed to assess adoption, utilization, and proficiency in support of institutionalizing change.

Learn more about Sense Corp and transformation capabilities at www.sensecorp.com.

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