HR’s Role in Organizational Change

July 3rd, 2017 by

Nothing remains constant except change itself.”  “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.”  “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.”

We have all heard the adages about change and are acutely aware of how important change is to the success of an organization. So why is organizational change so challenging?  Based on the details of a recent study, ‘Where Change Management Fails” from Robert Half Management Resources, the reason organizational change usually fails is basic.  It’s communication.  Or more specifically, lack of communication.  The study (which included 300 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees) notes that most organizational change efforts struggle in the executional phase on the foundation of insufficient or disjointed communication.

Survey respondents were asked, “Where do most change-management efforts commonly fail?” Only 10% said “strategy development,” for example, while 46% said “execution.”

Drilling down a little further, the research asked, “What is most important when leading your company or team through a major change?” 65% answered “communicating clearly and frequently” – far outdistancing “managing expectations” at 16% and “outlining goals” at 9%.

The research concluded: “The survey findings further suggest clear and frequent communication can be the remedy for what ails change-management efforts.”

To counter the tendency of employees to rely on past practices and the old way of doing things, clear and frequent communication of the facts is the ideal. Even if this is not possible, open communication about why decisions or facts cannot yet be released and an honest statement about when they might be known, and what people can do in the meantime, is better than nothing.

In a communication void the rumor mill takes over, usually with damaging results, and HR practitioners can use their knowledge, skills and opportunities to minimize the chances of this happening.

HR has a role to play in making sure implementers understand the importance of communication in engaging people, stabilizing the environment, reinforcing the important change messages and preparing for the future. HR can help clarify messages and ensure that people understand the multiple channels available and the many forms communication can take such as one-to-one and team meetings; formal briefings; town halls; emails; newsletters; intranet; podcasts and many more. HR can also use its many touch points with employees to play its own part in the communication process and can ensure that others are equipped to do the same.

Communicating with employees doesn’t have to be an expensive proposition. It’s largely an investment of management time and thought.  As this study demonstrates, it’s a most worthwhile investment.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,160+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Guest post by Lauren Hardwick, CAI’s HR Manager

 

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