Leadership – Staff Development – Are your staff ready for change?

When staff have been in your organization for a while and there is a structured career path, are they really ready for development and growth?  Are they ready to take the next step in their career?

I have often made the assumption that once a staff member has been in a role for a period of time (say 1-2 years), they may need to be given more responsibility.  I have often “pushed” them on the next step of the career ladder.  However, I think this maybe my bias and opinion on their career growth, more than their own.

Recently, I read Steve and Stephanie Barlow’s book People Get Ready, about a model of readiness to change.  It is clear that there are signals I could be looking out for that show readiness to change.  Instead for “pushing” staff into roles they may not be ready for or worse, even want, their behaviour should be a great signal that they actually want to grow and change.

Their model goes through the 7 behaviours that demonstrate readiness to change.  However, I will explore my top 3 of these signals.

Ready to Change – Signal 1 – Do they have a compelling reason to change?

They have to have their own compelling reason to change and grow, not your compelling reason.  When they take on a new role/responsibility, there is going to be learning, which means discomfort.  It will take time, effort and the uncomfortableness of making mistakes.  This is not easy.  Not having a compelling reason to change means that it is too easy to quit when the going gets tough.

Barlow and Barlow discussed the need for Cognitive Dissonance.  The difference between their expectations and what the environment is able to provide.  Unless there is a difference, they have no compelling reason to change.

Secondly, the next step must the next logical step to them in achieving their goal (In their own life story).

Talk to your staff member and discover what their compelling reason to grow is?  Is it a better lifestyle, career accolades, more money?  It’s their goal, not yours.  And, what is the next logical step to allow them to grow?

Ready to Change – Signal 2 – Do they believe that they can make change and shown, through their actions they can do it

This is a big one, demonstration of agency.  Do they believe that they have the ability/permission to act and have demonstrated, through their actions, that they can do it?

High agency people actively seek pathways around problems and create opportunities for themselves to grow and change.  Obstacles do not disempower them.  They will work on problem solving when something gets in the way.

The classic demonstration is the difference between a “victim”, a staff member who blames the outside circumstances for the situation and lacks responsibility for the outcome, versus a staff member of high agency.  Someone who is willing to give something a go.  They can fail, but the resilience shown in failure and growth is a big indication of someone likely to make change.

Demonstration of agency can be heard in the stories the staff member tells.  How do they describe themselves at work and in a situation?  Are they the victim of circumstance or are they a driver of their own change? 

Ready to Change – Signal 3 – Do they have enough trust in others to ask for help?

No one can successfully make change to their lives and the lives of others without help.  Seeking counsel and advice from other learned professionals who have been there before is a huge shortcut to make positive change.  As Jack Canfield wrote in his book, The Success Principles, “success leaves clues”.

Yes, you have to be selective from who you choose to get advice from.  However, there are credible sources of advice from people who have done it before.  One of my favourite forms is reading or listening to books from incredible people.  It is the cheapest and easiest ways of learning from someone else’s experience.

Passing on good books and information to junior staff members is one part of helping them grow.  Seeing them actually read/listen to these books and implement some of the lessons is a great way to see that they are ready for growth.

In addition, helping them build their own network of trusted advisors (outside of your organization) is a great way of really helping them gain depth in their knowledge and connections.

Has your employee taken advice steps in building their network of trusted advisors?  Are they demonstrating that they are willing to be humble and learn the lessons from others?

Although these are not all the signs of readiness for change, they are my top 3 aspect I look for when a staff member is ready to take the next step in their career AND are more likely to thrive and grow in their new role.


If you would like to read more articles on business and leadership, visit:


And then select: Health Business category

Join the discussion on leadership and have your say?

If you want to further discuss leadership in your health practice

  • Comment below!
  • Call us on (03) 9857 0644 or (07) 3505 1494 (Paddington)
  • Email us at admin@mdhealth.com.au
  • Check out our other blog posts here

Our leadership and branch management staff would be happy to have chat if you have any questions.

Share This