How organisational transformation can be driven effectively by human resources

The human resources (HR) department plays a pivotal role by intervening effectively to ensure a smooth transformation

Updated: Nov 17, 2017 11:50:57 AM UTC
To ensure smooth passage for the process of change, organisations must engage the workforce as an active participant (Image: Shutterstock)

A key element of an organisation’s effort to stay ahead of the curve is its willingness to transform. With ever-evolving external ecosystem, organisations need to propel productivity and maintain its economics of scope and scale. As with any transformation, the time-period during which changes are implemented is the most turbulent. The human resources (HR) department plays a pivotal role by intervening effectively to ensure a smooth transformation.

To ensure that common roadblocks that stand in the way of organisational change management are overcome, the HR leaders are positioned ideally. To ensure the smooth passage for the process of change, organisations must engage the workforce as an active participant. While 90 percent organizations are at some stage of transformation at any given time, only 30 percent of the initiatives succeed. Therefore, the stakes are very high and HR leaders need to proactively devise strategies to ensure that employees are complying with various aspects of transformation of the company.

Acknowledge approach to transformation The first step is to come to a consensus on the approach of transformation. The ability to adapt depends significantly on “How are you changing?” According to one estimate, more than 50% of companies change by continuously aligning business models with their overall strategy. The company could also transform through a more localised project or process specific effort. The HR needs to take the lead to strategise the change of approach and devise a plan to execute it.

Communicate and engage: making the business case for change
The biggest hurdle that the transformation faces is the internal resistance. To overcome such a situation, the HR should engage in a dialogue with everyone and ensure that it is both holistic and consistent. This involves speaking with employees across the organisation so they know why change is vital to the business and how it will affect their roles, career plans, and compensation. It is imperative to build a consensus within the employee base for the change to get them aboard to execute the transformation successfully. This also involves sharing the nuances of the plan with them and maintaining working channels of communication to keep them updated with the changes.

Define a clear route with the right checkpoints
HR plays a central role in coordinating employees’ change-related workloads so they do not become overwhelmed. This necessitates the complete understanding of the process of transformation by the HR along with delineating checkpoints for change. Also, by emphasising on milestones and success stories, momentum can be created for change.

Leverage technology to gain flexibility
Transformation exercises may require moving people quickly into new roles, often with rapid shifts in career paths, training requirements, and compensation.  The system of HR has to be highly agile with respect to capturing the changes and giving employees they need to evolve themselves with the business.

Tap into cultural pride points
The unwritten rule for how people are treated and how things get done in an organisation is ‘culture’. HR leaders can tap into the cultural strong points to assimilate the transformation outcomes with it. This will help the incoming changes within the organisation become a part of the culture and hence create greater acceptance for such a change.
Unleash the power of informal influencers
To make any transformation process successful, there is a need to bring influencers within the company onboard. Highly influential people are often at the heart of the change process, regardless of their official positions. Such informal leaders can be identified by the HR and can work with them as cultural change agents to ensure support for change or transformation.

Managing and engaging the right people across the organisation
The HR can tie the entire organisation together during a period of transformation by engaging in consistent communication through multiple channels and with stakeholders at every level, to ensure a cohesive workplace. Everyone from entry-level employees to the middle management to the C-suite needs to be engaged, knowing what to do to make the change initiative a success. They also need to understand that HR is there to support them as they undergo the transformation.

Managing the complexity of transformation in an organisation with diversified business lines across countries can be a big barrier for senior leadership. Since we are naturally averse to change, the organisation faces a lot of hardship to adapt to changing external conditions. But with the appropriate intervention of the HR, the organisation can be brought together to enable a transformation process that is driven by productivity.

By Yazad Dalal, Head of HCM Cloud Applications, Asia Pacific

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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