Change Management Barrier point at Ability: Profile 4
Does attaining the Knowledge regarding a change automatically include having the Ability to change? This is a common misconception among change practitioners. The element “Ability” is when “walking the walk” becomes a reality. Whether from a physical disability, a mental block, a function of time, or a lack of resources, it is possible that an individual may have the Awareness of, Desire and Knowledge to change, but may not be able to perform the change. An example is an individual who takes golf or swimming lessons, but may not necessarily be a proficient golfer or swimmer. Until the majority of employees successfully attain the ability element, the change will not begin yielding the desired outcomes.
Like with Knowledge, the first observation you can make is that the employee is trying to change. When an employee lacks Ability, you can expect them to take longer to perform the necessary tasks and productivity will be low. Employees at this stage continue to seek constant help from their manager or co-workers. Some employees may be disappointed in their own performance, and they can become upset over the mistakes they are making. If left unattended, these same employees may attempt to find work-arounds that are easier for them, even if these work-arounds do not align with the change. It is not uncommon for an employee who started with a strong Awareness, Desire and Knowledge level, but lacks Ability, to revert back to a lack of Desire if they come to believe that they will not be successful in the new environment.
To address a lack of Ability, managers must ensure that their employees receive the necessary amount of coaching to master the new skills and processes. Equally important, employees must have the time to practice until they become proficient at the change. Subject matter experts and mentors are great tools to assist employees during this state. Some organizations even implement a “help desk” so that employees have someone to talk to immediately when they need assistance.
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