Change Management and HR – Part 2

As already described in Part 1 – Change Management and HR – changes in companies are inevitable. They are a constant in every organization. They affect every department, every team and ultimately every single employee. Every organization wants to and must retain its personnel. Motivated, committed and satisfied people in the workplace lead to more productivity and increase competitiveness. In addition, they are demonstrably less ill. Especially in change processes this productivity should not decrease.


After the Change is before the Change

In order to maintain and strengthen productivity and competitiveness, a positive attitude towards change is essential. This positive attitude is the starting point for successful, structured, feedback-based management and support of human resources. HR serves as a decisive backbone for change projects. In fact, 99% of employees would welcome change projects if their needs were much more strongly considered. Because change can bring new, interesting and more innovative tasks and processes for many participants.

If, however, the role and commitment of the Human Resource area is discontinued, change projects can be unsteady and fragile. Employees often lack the courage to question these projects. The exchange between teams and superiors about possible strategies and procedures is not supported or encouraged. Chang steps, on the other hand, must be carefully planned, continuously communicated and constantly communicated. This is precisely where HR’s function as a “relationship engine and relationship promoter” comes into play.

As a relationship promoter and central interface, HR typically has contacts at all levels of the company. This network can and should be used by HR to put together the right teams to support change. In addition, HR should also take on the role of communicating change as a continuous process and solving possible conflicts. On the HR side, the role of supporters in overcoming resistance at the emotional level is often also important.

How do such approaches work?


The contribution of HR as a change agent to all-round success

Ideally, HR managers should prepare for the internal change and new role before the actual change takes place. The focus should be on the individual employee in the company as well as on tailor-made communication tools. Open communication channels using ‘Community Work’ instead of a ‘Lonely Wolf’ strategy should be pursued. An important aspect for ‘Community Work’ is continuous communication at eye level, in which all employees can play an equal role in the change process. This should encourage a lively exchange between management and the affected employees. This develops team spirit. This makes it much easier to develop and pursue common goals as a ‘community’. Lonely Wolfs’ must be “captured” and integrated into the process.

Who listens actively can also act proactively, should be the first starting point. In the first step, HR managers have to turn those affected into participants, i.e. new roles and tasks in the HR team. This gives HR a role model function. HR nominates one or more employees as internal change agents.


From employee chair to designer of change

A bottom-up strategy consciously changes the communication channels within the framework of organisational change. Executives give their ‘scepters’ to change multipliers nominated from their colleagues. These selected colleagues act as “bridge builders” between managers / HR and their team colleagues. All suggestions, wishes, worries, questions or ideas are regularly taken up by the change multipliers and discussed together with HR and the managers. In this way, joint solutions and procedures can be developed. These are communicated back into the organisation and implemented with the inclusion of feedback.

A bottom-up approach is recommended in the context of changes, because employees know their goals, tasks and hurdles of everyday working life best. This means

  • The nominated change multipliers communicate the need for change within their area of responsibility in the organisation to HR. This makes it clear where innovations are necessary from the team’s point of view.
  • The change multipliers then meet weekly with the HR Change Agent(s) to put together proposals from the organization. Further suggestions are collected. The next step is to discuss the input with the managers.
  • Managers and change multipliers carry the resulting solutions and procedures into the organization and into the individual teams. Here the bottom-up is interlocked with a top-down approach.
  • Any necessary resources are identified and the need is addressed to the appropriate contact persons. If the resources are available, the necessary changes can be implemented jointly in the “community”.

Bottom-up communication enables every employee to participate actively in the process. This creates a conducive learning and change culture. Feedback is “hurdle-free” from employee to management level and HR.


“People who write the play, don’t fight the play”

The Lean Change Management method is a further possibility for personnel managers to lead the change process in a more agile and feedback-centered way. The agile Lean Change process is far away from any static status reports. Rather, the focus is on the striking presentation of change, e.g. on paper. This approach leads to a better overview and discussion between colleagues, HR and managers.

With the help of HR, change is communicated and recorded in 360-degree feedback. Ideally, lean change will involve the entire organization in the restructuring process. An example of this would be the use of sticky notes to record content and status and to track changes continuously. The individual change steps become clearer and more ‘tangible’ for the employees on the basis of a pictorial representation.

Personnel managers can, for example, show the milestones of change in a striking way in the common room: When were there small or big successes during the process changes? When were/are there new meetings with the change initiators? Which new strategies were implemented and how? ….. This makes the change immediately accessible and transparent for every employee. The change is established as a clear and daily transparent form of communication in the change project.


Conclusion

Employees who feel integrated in the change process, who are able to express their personal wishes and who feel understood with their competencies are the driving force behind change. Employees who can help shape change will support the innovations and not question them. Because: “Change does not mean fleeing from something bad, but should always be initiated from a positive future perspective” (quote John Kotter).