Change is a constant. As HR professionals we talk to businesses and senior leaders, a lot! A common theme in the interactions we have is ‘change’. Experiencing, introducing, managing and working through change. Some of the statements we regularly hear might sound familiar to you too:
“We are introducing a new way of working into our business, and I want to better help the business through this change.”
“My company is going through a lot of change right now, and I’m looking to grow my skills as a leader to help through the change.”
“We are going through so much change, and we have been for years. I just need to know how to help my employees build resilience to manage these changes.”
Organisations are constantly changing and evolving in response to their environments. If you do not evolve, you do not survive. It is perhaps unsurprising then that change management is coming out as one of the top challenges facing business’ today.
The only way to thrive in a constantly changing environment is to build your organisation in such a way that you can listen closely and respond quickly. For many, this means approaching structure, culture, policy, and people in a new way.
Who’d be better placed than HR to uptake the role of walking change agent to support you and your organisation through this process? HR’s proximity to the people of your organisation makes it easier to anticipate roadblocks to change and provide the right framework to support change in the workplace.
Building agility in the workplace is key to an organisation’s ability to handle change better. Business leaders such as yourself must realise fast, that the world we operate in will never stand still. Until you do, you will always see and treat it in isolation.
In order to address this, look to build flexibility and adaptability into your internal structures as a standard. Ensure you have the right people, appropriate platforms for communication and clear channels for information to flow freely up, down and around the organisation. When this happens, change can be adopted much more easily.
The HR function plays an important role in working together with the leadership team to re-think organisational design to bring about change and facilitate the implementation of new processes, procedures and culture.
Certain workplace practices, habits and behaviours will make or break the agility of your organisation. Look to review your traditions and the things you have ‘always done that way’ to identify and address where you might have barriers to agility and growth. Look at how you can create a workplace of collaboration and creativity to set yourselves up to listen and move when necessary.
Word of warning, it is important for organisations not to simply try and align changes with your current culture, in the hope of making them acceptable – you’ve got to align it with the culture you want.
It is vital to have a strong vision for change and a reason why this is better than the status quo. The ‘Why are we doing this? And is it being communicated in a way which connects with employees in the organisation? What connects people is the story about what the future would look like when it is complete, because that is something that people can relate to and rally behind.
To ensure you bring the people on the journey with you, it is important to have a defined change management strategy and communication plan, with a clear message, milestones and key change agents on board to disseminate important messages. Ensure yourself and the rest of your leadership team are taking a joined up approach.
HR can help set expectations and educate those involved by ensuring a comprehensive plan is laid out every time change is on the agenda. This will clarify the practicalities of who will do what and when and it will also provide an opportunity to ensure the whole change architecture is considered from the beginning.
For further reading, you may want to read HR’s impact on your business