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Followers’ Readiness to Change

6 October, 2015 - 11:35

Employees within an organization vary in their readiness to change. Some individuals just don’t like any change, while others will leap at the opportunity to try something new. Most individuals vary between these two poles of readiness depending on the perceived costs and benefits of a particular proposed change. In other words, if the employee perceives a change as relatively easy to adopt (i.e., low cost), and the change brings about many advantages or solves existing problems (i.e., high benefit), then the employee will be relatively open to the change.  1

Another way to think about the employee’s readiness to change is to consider all change proposals as a diffusion-of-innovation problem. Everett Rogers devoted his lifetime to understanding how innovations diffused within social systems, and he discovered a very interesting fact: When confronted with a particular change, individuals tend to sort themselves out into a normal distribution in terms of readiness to change. In other words, roughly 16% of all employees will be early adopters of proposed changes; 34% will then follow the early adopters. Next, another 34% of employees will be late adopters. And finally, 16% of the employees will resist the proposed change as long as possible. 2 In sum, when attempting to communicate to an entire organization, it is very helpful to know something about the nature of the change targets before, during, and after a change initiative is launched.