Many HR professionals find that when it comes to making change in their organisation, employees resist the change and, as a result, the change is slow to embed or it does not embed at all. We set out five change management tips to help HR make a success of any change.
Change is so common in today’s business environment, whether you are making the move to hybrid working, introducing a new appraisal process or doing something else entirely that will affect your people.
Whatever the catalyst for it, an HR change is likely to have an effect beyond the HR department, so its success will be important to the business as a whole.
1. Explore the business case
The first step in a change management programme is to explore the business case behind the idea for change.
This will help to define what the organisation wants to achieve, which will help to manage everyone’s expectations.
It will also give the HR team information to communicate the reasons why the change is being made and its expected impact, which will help the team gain traction for the change.
Business case: questions to consider
• Why are we considering the change?
• What do we want to achieve?
• Which problems will and won’t the change solve?
• What are the implications of the change for the business?
• How long will the change take to implement
• Why is now the right time for change?
Once the HR team has decided that there is a good business case, it needs to present the business case to the board or senior steering group to obtain approval for the project, before going on to plan how to implement the change.
2. Plan the change management project
Once backing for the change has been obtained, the HR team needs to plan how it will make the change.
This will involve putting together a charter for change, which sets out the purpose of the change programme. This will serve as a starting point for the change and as a useful reference point during the change project.
The HR team will also need to create a more detailed project plan, setting out information about how the change will be implemented. This should include details on key deliverables, dates, milestones, dependencies, communication with stakeholders and costs.
3. Tell key stakeholders about the change
Resistance to change often arises out of unease about what the change means for people. Regular communication about the change with those affected is key to helping them understand and engage with the change.
The HR team will need to identify the people with whom they will need to communicate and the methods of communication. These details, along with a timeline for communication activities, should be included in a communications plan.
4. Involve employees in change management
More change management tips
One key step to overcoming resistance to change is to involve people who are affected by a change in making the change.
This means giving people the chance to influence the shape that the change will take before and during its implementation.
This will help the HR team to identify any concerns people have about the change, and think about how to address these concerns in good time, so that people can have a real impact on the change.
Moreover, people who are involved in a change are more likely to buy into it.
5. Learn from your successes and failures
As an HR practitioner, you are bound to be involved in another change project soon, so it is essential that you evaluate what went well and what did not go so well with the change programme.
You should also look into what impact the change has had on the organisation. Has it produced the outcomes that you envisaged when you explored the business case? And what is the return on investment?
Why is it important to plan and manage change?
“Change takes place regularly in today’s business environment, in all sizes of organisation and in all sectors.
“However, most organisations struggle to embed change into their business. The most common reasons for this are: employee resistance to the change; the organisation’s failure to prepare adequately for the change; and miscommunication about the change and what it means for people.
“Research shows that change initiatives are nearly twice as likely to fail as a result of organisational resistance than they are as a result of technical or operational issues. The way in which an organisation approaches change is therefore key to its success.”