Committing to the change

There are many ways to measure commitment to change in the workplace. One of the simplest and most straightforward ways is to ask people or groups what they feel about specific aspects of the workplace changes. Readiness to change questionnaires attempt to do this and are arranged as a series of questions that ask about:

  • perceived reasons for the changes
  • the perceived benefits that the changes will bring to the respondent and service users
  • how the respondent thinks the changes will affect them and colleagues
  • how the respondent feels about the changes

There are other ways to find out how people feel about change. Using metaphor can encourage individuals or groups to explore deeply held fears. If for example you ask “if the change programme was an animal, what animal would it be and why?”

  • A wise old elephant
  • A hungry hyena
  • A friendly dolphin
  • A reliable old dog

The purpose of using metaphor is to enable people to talk about the change programme from a distance. It is easier to say “the change programme is like a hungry hyena because……” rather than I hate the changes”, though this may be the conclusion.

Exercises that encourage individuals to speak openly about their fears should be set in a clear context eg

  • Don’t expect all concerns to be alleviated
  • You can say what you truly feel
  • What you say will not be repeated to people outside the group or if it is your name will not be linked to the comment.

Commitment versus compliance

Two important points for change agents to remember.

  1. It is not always necessary for everyone to be committed to the changes, compliance may be enough. Change leaders need to know who must be committed for the changes to take place.
  2. People will commit to the changes at different stages. Some may never commit. Work with the ones who want to work with you – don’t bear grudges and be ready for radical changes of heart.

Change can bring out the best and the worst in people. For some, the change will put a lot at stake. Once individuals decide to openly oppose change it is very difficult for them to reconsider and support it. Change agents and leaders must expect this level of personal and emotional response to the changes and be ready and willing to accommodate it. Welcome supporters as and when they appear, even if they have made life difficult in the past! This behaviour is very normal and typical.

Finding the best way to support individuals

Readiness to change questionnaires can help to identify where individuals or groups are in relation to change. Once you can place individuals on a continuum you will have more idea about the best way to support them.


What to do

Ignorance is bliss

Clearly present the change programme.

Demonstrate commitment to the changes

Present the rational for change and the consequences of not changing

Engage in personal exploration of the role/skill. Describe the support that will be in place

Emphasise the benefits of changing

Thinking about change

Provide information that clearly outlines the benefits of change and the disadvantages of not changing.

Model and demonstrate new behaviours/ values.

Encourage objective evaluation of the situation.

Show the changes at a personal level

Encourage engagement in the design and planning of change at local level

Early engagement

Provide information about the support that is available to support the transition – training – advice etc Reinforcement of personal and service benefits. Reassurance that they can make the adjustments.

Encourage and recognise small steps

Full engagement

Support – positive reinforcement – training – on-the-job help-recognition. Clarity about the new role eg you must know what success looks like!

Peer support available. Formal and ad hoc training

Encourage team support

Sustaining new behaviours

Ongoing recognition and support.

Feedback on the benefit the new approach is delivering to the service users and the workforce.

Set up Peer mentors and buddy systems, case studies etc


Planning for change

Back to the Managing change page