Answer from Hugo Tucker, manager, Ortus
First of all, it’s important to realise the distinction between pure change management and HR change management. HR change will normally focus on the aspects of transformation in organisations that affect employees, normally on a technical/legal and cultural basis. Pure change management is ensuring the transition project goes smoothly from a timescale, process and design perspective. However, as an all-encompassing term, ‘change’ means different things to different organisations.
The market in HR for people with change experience is very buoyant, and any HR professional proactively aligned to the business will be expected to have operated in a changing environment. With experience of mergers and acquisitions, you will have had to deal with issues such as TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) and integrating different corporate cultures, not to mention all the internal communications around the change. This is great.
However, no organisation anticipates change to be a long-term thing, so the very nature of being an HR change manager could mean you can’t secure a permanent role externally. The HR change roles we recruit for tend to be on an interim basis. Recently, for example, we recruited an HR director on a one-year fixed-term contract for a company that had been taken over by a private financier who wanted to totally reorganise the business across Europe.
In companies that anticipate a long-term acquisition trail, you will face competition from internal candidates who are keen to have exposure to the same valuable change experience that you have. When organisations are planning a major change, they will often approach HR to see if one of the team would like to be seconded to it for a finite amount of time. These projects tend to be very popular.
It is certainly possible for you to specialise in change management, but you must be prepared to take on fixed-term projects. Whatever you choose, having this experience makes you a very marketable candidate.
If you have a question for our panel of experts about developing your career, send your question to [email protected]