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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

HR as Change Leader and Consensus Builder

Some HR Initiatives fail because of HRD's inability to lead the change and build consensus among stake holders. Case in point,  people in charge of training would conduct a Training Needs Analysis survey and then prescribe training programs to address the identified needs. Stakeholders take a look at the list of courses and agree that these are indeed the needed training. After the training is held, both managers and participants are unable to follow through because  one, the managers only have a superficial appreciation of the needed change while the participants are unsure of how to go about making the change without their managers leading the way. HR may have the same dilemma  in the implementation of performance management systems, recruitment strategies, employment policies and the likes. When HRD tries to operate in a vacuum and dishes out program after program without thoroughly involving the stake holders from the very beginning and without letting them lead the change within their respective units. I believe that for change in the organization to take place, key players should be in the thick of the action from the inception, to planning, to implementation, to evaluation, to continuous improvement.

John Kotter, through his book "Leading Change" shared an instructive view of how to lead the change. I encourage HR to pay attention to it. In order to effectively carry out change in the company's HR practices, they must  establish the urgent need for it. The organization's leaders must accept this as both true and worth doing.  When they see the wisdom of the change and accept the role they play in it, they become part of the change coalition. They will take part in envisioning the change and communicating it in the whole organization and specifically to their direct reports. HR should be able to guide the coalition through the process by identifying potential risks and barriers and determine ways to negotiate through them using enabling tools like training,technology and open communication. Sometimes the change can be a long drawn process and people can be impatient. It helps that they are apprised of the progress, the milestones and the small victories. When people see how well the change process is going, they become bolder and identify more ways to improve things. When gains are consolidated it helps produce more change. The final leg of the change process is not really the last leg because after the change is institutionalized and made part of the culture, HR should remember to go back to it have it evaluated in the future and make some necessary changes to cope with the change organizational, technological and business environment.

HR's power, no matter what the organizational charter says about it is limited only to its ability to influence the people especially the leaders to embrace and take ownership of change. HR must not juggernaut its way to changing the organizations because some walls are just too big and too strong for them to not seek the involvement of everyone in the organization.

While HR is the key player in this post, IT, Accounting, Marketing and the rest of the organizational managers should also learn  to lead and manage change more effectively. Change leadership and management is more important now than it ever was.

Related Training: Managing Change


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. As HR practioner, no matter how hard you work to effect change in the orgnization, if the employees do not understand the importance of the project that HR is implementing, it would be useless.

    May I repost? Thanks :)

  3. @gsmhr, please feel free to repost :)

  4. In the case of our Company, most of the initiatives that the Corporate HR is embarking is from the Strategic directions of the company and from the Balanced Score Card (BSC) objectives sponsored by the HR VP. Given the culture of an Arab Country (where I am right now), we still need the support of the Executive Management for the employees and other department to suppport us. Otherwise, we'll fail miserably.


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