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Human Resources and Change Management

There are currently many debates on Social Networking sites (specifically on LinkedIn) about the integration of Project Management (PM) and Change Management (CM) and whether the two can actually be successfully carried out by one person. I have a personal view about the integration of PM and CM, which was the subject of a previous article called unsurprisingly Project Management vs. Change Management. I don’t think they can, but then I am biased, as I have practiced for many years as a Change Manager alongside and in collaboration with Project Managers, which has been successful marriage.

But, can this kind of collaboration be equally as successful with Human Resources during a change initiative?

Well, during my many years as a Change Manager, I have had occasion to work with a number of HR Departments in organisations and if were to be brutally honest my experience has not been that good and it seems I am not alone e.g. in a paper called “HR – Competencies for Success” Graham White, HRD, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals says “HR in most UK companies is far from a change champion and is more likely to be seen as the corporate anchor designed to absorb and neutralise initiatives with the now infamous repost … “the policy says no” … a damning indictment.

As a Change Manager I have mainly used HR during some of my change assignments for the following reasons:

  • To source people data:
    • To enable the identification of employees impacted by the change
    • Identify key stakeholders with whom to engage.
  • Showing people profiles e.g. age and length of service to use when considering reactions to change.
  • To assist with making necessary changes to job descriptions/organisational structures as a result of new ways of working.
  • To collaborate on communication and engagement.

But really not a lot more than that but should they be more involved?

Prosci think so because they say that “HR is the catalyst needed to introduce and implement Change Management at its most effective stage – the very beginning. It is important that HR understands Change Management and the ways to effectively utilise their resources.”

You know it’s actually quite funny because whilst they have the right title of Human Resources so “to do with people” HR have always been more “transactional” than “strategic” … what do I mean by that? Well …

  • Transactional — delivery of effective and efficient HR processes, products and services.
  • Strategic — managing workforce development and leading and facilitating change.

But to enable HR to adopt a more “strategic” role there is a need to “free up” resources for that purpose. One of the ways this can be done is through outsourcing of the “transactional” elements of HR such as leave, recruitment, payroll, benefits, loans, performance appraisal, training & development, time and attendance and cost allocation. But outsourcing whether it be Payroll or other HR “transactional” processes will have a profound effect on your HR Departments ways of working e.g.:

  • Your HR processes are likely to change.
  • The roles & responsibilities of your people will change along with your organisation structure.
  • You will need to consider how you are going to deal with the surplus of HR people (those that previously performed “transactions”).
  • You will need to assess your HR staff to see whether they have the necessary skills and competencies to move to a more “strategic” role.
  • There is likely to be a requirement for Training or re-Training.
  • The Business that HR serves will need to be made aware of these changes and how they will be impacted.

The transition from the old ways of working to the new needs to be smooth and seamless and the change as a result of outsourcing will need to be managed and follow a clear structured process that takes into consideration all of the aspects mentioned above. So coincidentally this is why you need a focused Change Manager, using a structured approach along with a variety of tools & techniques, who can work with your organisation to help with:

  • Stakeholder Management — identify key stakeholders and manage them throughout to win their support to help ensure that project succeeds.
  • Communication — implement a comprehensive communications plan that includes creating awareness, stakeholders to be communicated to, types of messages to be communicated, channels to be communicated through and frequency of communication.
  • Process and Organisational Change — understand and identify the processes that will change and how this will impact associated roles & responsibilities and organisational structures.
  • Training — identify training needs and implement a comprehensive training strategy to ensure all those impacted by the change receive necessary training in any new ways of working.
  • Measure Business Readiness and Adoption — design and implement an adoption measurement mechanism to determine how ready those impacted by the change are for the new ways of working.

All these things help to smooth the stressful and uncertain journey to a successful outsourcing initiative.

Once the “transactional” elements of HR have been outsourced this will allow HR departments to look at becoming more “strategic” which has been championed by Dave Ulrich through his “six key competency traits required of HR professionals,” which are:

  • Strategic Positioner — able to turn business knowledge into organisation actions.
  • Credible Activist — able to build relationships of trust and influence).
  • Capability Builder — able to diagnose and shape an organisation’s culture.
  • Change Champion — able to initiate and sustain change.
  • Innovator and Integrator — able to align, innovate, and integrate new HR practices.
  • Technology Proponent — able to use information to drive long term results.

So this is the challenge for Human Resources, are you up to it?

About Ron Leeman

Ron Leeman has been involved in “change and process” work for more years than he cares to remember. He has worked extensively across the UK, Europe, and globally--and has an enviable track-record of delivering organisational change and process initiatives across a wide cross section of industry sectors. In 2012, Ron was bestowed with a “Change Leader of Tomorrow” award by the World HRD Congress “in recognition of my remarkable progress in initiating changes enough for others in the same industry to follow my example”. Ron is firm believer in knowledge transfer and now wants to share his vast knowledge with those who are considering getting into or at various stages of “change” and/or “process” work or those working on specific Projects wanting to gain practical insights into “how to” type situations. You can connect with Ron Leeman on LinkedIn here, where you can view his 85+ Recommendations and in excess of 800 Endorsements from clients and co-workers alike to give you an indication of the quality of service that he has provided and can offer. Ron is also a document author on Flevy. Browse his frameworks on Change Management, Process Analysis, and Program Management here: http://flevy.com/seller/highwayofchange.

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