Effective change management with updated HR competencies

Change is an integral part of growth. Businesses across the world change over time, and so do their employees. Whether introducing new technologies, transitioning from older methodologies to better, newer, and more efficient ones, or the evolution of DE&I, the business world is rapidly changing. With such changes, the expectations of employees from their employers also change. It’s prudent that as the business changes, its HR competencies too would change along with it.

For successful change management, HR needs to be ready to roll with the change. Thus, it should prepare for it much ahead of the actual change. The upheaval triggered by the pandemic has shown that the ability to manage change is more critical than ever. And that’s an in-demand skill more HR professionals need to cultivate, say HR experts.

Past studies have shown that 70 to 75% of change efforts fail completely. One of the primary reasons behind such failures is attributed to the business leaders not getting their HR team involved until after the project has been launched and employees begin resisting. When things go downhill, these leaders ask their HR team to help “fix people,” as they consider the end-user as the problem’s root cause for not embracing change. However, the real problem stems from the lack of consideration for the employees, who are likely to be impacted the most.

Change initiatives – from business relocations and acquisitions to technology rollouts – are more successful when HR is made a partner in the strategic planning stage. Additionally, from helping employees acquire new skills to manage the change better to getting them trained to close skill gaps and finding influencers and change champions within the company who can help clarify and validate the need for change among their fellow employees, HR has to do it all.

Though there are various models for effective change management, the fundamentals can be covered with the following four steps:

  1. Examine what needs to change and its potential impacts
  2. Design a plan for the necessary change
  3. Execute the plan
  4. Measure the results

The problem with most organisations is that their people simply focus on the second and third steps. They fail to examine all potential impacts of the change and lack a metric to measure whether the change is sustainable and successful.

Now, let’s go back to where we started, namely HR competencies, and examine how it would change as business changes.

Managing a Diverse and Global Workforce with Focus on DE&I

Thanks to remote and hybrid work models in place, organisations today often have employees spread across different branches in different time zones. HR needs to be able to manage these people and keep them adequately focused and motivated on the assigned tasks. From helping develop positive employee work attitudes like organisational commitment and job satisfaction to better job performance of employees and decreased turnover, HR has to do it all and even more.

Encouraging and managing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) is an equally crucial part of managing the changing workplace scenarios. With a growing and continued emphasis on DE&I in organisations and society to combat social injustices, it has become important to create workplace cultures that include, rather than alienate or exclude, each employee and the unique skills, qualities, attributes, and knowledge that person brings to work. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are no longer something HR professionals simply need to ‘know about.’ Instead, they must demonstrate these behavioural competencies.  

Leveraging People Analytics

Sharpened analytical aptitude is crucial to facilitating effective change management. Leveraging people analytics is a key competency for HR as it can help organisations gain useful insights by analyzing their employees’ values, behaviours, relationships, social sentiments, and workplace habits. When a change is impending, such insights can help HR work effectively to improve employee experience during the transition period, facilitate their future learning to meet new roles and responsibilities, and overcome several other challenges that may be triggered due to the change.

When a change is about to happen, people analytics will help organisations understand where they stand in terms of their employees’ engagement, experience, well-being, and connectivity to the organisation’s objectives. It can also facilitate hyper-personalisation, which will cause higher engagement and help employees stay motivated. Thus, by helping add value and motivation to the workforce, people analytics can act as the key contributor to developing and retaining a quality workforce when change is implemented.

Formulating a Change Management Strategy

HR professionals need a 4-pronged approach to craft an effective change management strategy. At first, they need to know the number of employees currently working in the company and their respective roles. Such information will help them evaluate how and to what extent the change will influence the organisation at different levels of granularity.

The second step is recalibrating employee duties when the change is about to happen. Such recalibration includes changes to roles, titles, and salaries. HR may also need to acquire new talent to meet a new need.

With the first two steps, HR professionals will have better clarity regarding how the change will influence employees. They can compile this information and share it with people in the management, who are in charge of planning and executing organisational change. Lastly, once the change has started or been fully integrated, HR can help sustain and strengthen that change within the company in both cultural and concrete ways.

Final Words

Keeping up with the evolution in any profession is vital. As organisations change, HR professionals need to update their competencies to be able to competently solve problems, make decisions, and help create a company culture where the employees’ objectives align with the business goals, thus giving both parties a win-win solution. Apart from the pointers we have covered in this post, how else do you think HR competencies should change as a business changes?

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