How Change-Readiness Skills Support Difficult Change


Many difficult change efforts require some degree of adopting new thinking habits, behaviors, and responses. Because the change is harder, it is not uncommon to find a wide variety of resistance responses in those cases. An important "family" of skills can help successfully change the way people respond to the discomfort associated with difficult change.

Different tools help with different needs. Most Change Leaders are well versed with need-analysis and identifying which skills individuals, teams, and organizations need to adopt in order to improve performances and achieve desired outcomes. We are familiar with a wide variety of skills including (and far from limited to) communication, conflict resolution, creativity, leadership, decision-making, problem-solving, teamwork, time-management, planning, and interviewing just to name a few. What most of us were never taught is that this wide variety of performance-related skills belong to only one "group" or "family" of skills. There is a second, different group, designed for a different purpose, that includes a whole other set of skills.

While it may be safe to say that skills in the first group are designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our performances, the second group is designed to improve and often transform the way we respond to change. High mastery levels of skills in this second group means you will respond effectively when difficult change is required. Low mastery levels of skills in this second group result in responses that block the ability to adopt needed changes (giving this group the name "Change-Readiness Skills"). Like the skills in the performance-related group, the list is long. It includes skills like Multiple Truths, Combining Expectations with Togetherness, Effective Control, and Deliberate Response to name a few. Aside for the the fact the names of these skills are somewhat unfamiliar, Change-Readiness skills focus on two critical aspects that put them in a category of their own:

  • Change-Readiness Skills are designed as prerequisite for acquiring performance-related skills.

  • Change-Readiness Skills are designed to improve the way people respond to discomfort associated with change.

Why are Change-Readiness Skills often a prerequisite for acquiring performance-related skills?

Imagine two leaders seek to improve how their teams interact during meetings. The challenge for both is similar, decisions are not being made effectively because during meetings team members are either ignored or don't speak up and critical information is missed as a result. Both leaders would like to see more inclusive discussions, team members playing devil's advocates, and better open, non-biased listening from everyone involved. Needless to say, there is extensive knowledge about relevant performance-related skills. It will serve both leaders well to know which meeting management practices would be more effective than others. A few relevant performance-related skills in this case may include providing a clear agenda in advance for people to process issues and prepare, asking questions that prompt deeper discussion, and being inclusive.