Monday, August 2, 2010

Ready, Set....CHANGE?

As a blogger, I depend on experiences and what I read for many of my topics.  Recently, I have had a topic just present itself in so many ways, I have to write about it.

Many times companies want to be something they are not.  They want to be customer focused, they want to be #1 in their industry, they want to be innovative, they want to be strategic.  

As I look back on my consulting career, the one thing that the companies that want to be something they aren't have in common is this:  A PERCEIVED READINESS FOR CHANGE

Either you are going to do what it takes to close the gaps from where you are to where you want to be or you have HOPE as your strategy.  I HOPE we can become customer focused, just does not cut it.

Let's just say, you want to move your HR department from transactional to strategic because you truly want to focus on the important people issues turning your talent into a competitive advantage.  The first questions you will need to ask yourself are:

1) Are we ready as an organization to put our people strategy first?
2) Are we ready to elevate the TOP HR position to those of equal importance like marketing, operations, R&D etc.
3) Are we ready to make the tough decisions like outsourcing, restructuring, and realigning talent based on our new HR mission?

If all of those answers are yes, then you may be in good shape.  Further digging into the following may be required to determine if your infrastructure, leadership and employees are ready:

1) Determine leadership's ability to facilitate change
2) Analyze infrastructure to make sure it can support the change
3) Determine if organization has rewards in place to motivate new behaviors
4) Analyze goal alignment ACROSS the organization.

By looking at the areas above first, you may save yourself time, energy and money due to lack of execution.  By analyzing these items on the front end, everyone understands the reasons and the stated direction making change easier to accept and buy into.  Not all employees, will be "change ready" as everyone has different "change styles."  (Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on change styles).  But understanding all of these indicators up front make change less painful.

I have a feeling our organizations will be continuously changing from now on as we continue to figure out the "new normal."  I believe HR professionals must get very good at facilitating and leading change efforts.  I agree with Dave Ulrich, it is a very important competency for HR professionals to master.

How have you lead successful change?  Did you do a change readiness exercise?


Barbara A Hughes said...

Great post and spot on with the questions to assess readiness.
When I'm leading strategic discussions with clients, I'm scanning the room, looking for the one, hopefully, two individuals who will take on the change and execution responsibilities. Sometimes, they aren't standing out or standing up.
If the HR function can take on change and strategy execution as core competencies (and do them in a business results way), it would be a win-win.

Debbie said...


Good advice. From my experience I would also add that the client has to be ready to hear and process the results of a change readiness assessment.

It may be, as your blog indicates, they're not as ready for change as they thought. That's when leadership has to be ready to roll up their sleeves and do the "pre-work" to move the managers and employees to a higher level of capabilities. This phase is critical to position the organization for successful sustainability during the change interventions required to close the gaps.

And your right - HR can't really do HR today without understanding and leading OD interventions.


With a smile,

Unknown said...

Thanks Debbie and Barbara:

We all agree about HR's involvement in this process. I think it is a skill set that is critical for the roles of manager, director, VP. It's just that you cant learn how to facilitate change though books, you actually have to go through several to understand all the nuances.

I wonder how HR professionals can get more skill building in this area?


Michael D. Haberman, SPHR said...

I think your last question is spot on. I think many HR people feel out of their element in trying to lead change or in even being receptive to it. In many organizations the skill set necessary to run a 'clean HR shop' is consistency. Well being geared for consistency is not the road to leading a successful change effort. So how do we get people there? Hmmm... germ of an idea.

Anonymous said...


Great post. One of the major skills gap in most organisations across the globe is Execution. Just wonder if the HR/OD profession is part of the problem, solution to the problem, or both?

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment...I am going to have to answer with both. As with some HR/OD dept are part of the problem, due to lack of understanding of implementation and yet others embrace this skill set. I believe the latter is going to be more and more important as companies try to grow and change.