Continuous change management has become a reality that is unlikely to slow down. This is compounded by the complexity of the changes many organisations are currently facing, the degree of uncertainty and ambiguity of the future and the number of variables associated with the changes. Organisations are in a constant state of change with priorities and strategies continuously shifting to adapt to new market realities, changing consumer demands and needs, and technological, political and economic factors.
As constant as change may be, employees rarely receive it positively. It is a common practice that any change affecting people is assigned to the HR function for appropriate management. I would like to challenge the assumption that change management is a HR responsibility and instead assert that change management needs to be viewed as part of everyone’s job. Successful management of change requires the individual involvement of the HR function, senior leaders, line managers, communications team, change team, and employees.
The most effective changes are led not by HR, but from the top; by leaders who create and share the vision, are visibly supportive of the change, share why the change is happening and build a desire towards it. During change, the best leaders model the right behaviours and “walk the walk”.
To build trust, and for employees to follow their lead, managers who are closest to employees impacted by the changes need to understand how to lead, coach, communicate with their teams and provide them a safe environment to surface and work through their own objections towards the change. Their role in this process cannot be overemphasised. Managers can be the greatest allies or the greatest obstacles to change.
84 percent of 575 change leaders surveyed by change management firm Prosci ranked manager and supervisor involvement in change initiatives as “extremely important” or “very important” to the success of their projects. If the manager is not advocating or championing the change, then buy-in and ultimate success from employees is compromised.
HR plays a key role in guiding change from an HR-led process to a business-driven one by building change management capabilities in leaders, managers and teams and using change management as a strategic capability to drive business success. HR leaders should, therefore, endeavour to support their organisations in building change maturity that is, ensuring a consistent approach to managing change is adopted throughout the organisation and becomes part of organisational standards and a way of life. The HR function plays a critical role in clarifying the responsibilities and roles in change management for each manager layer as part of embedding it as an organisational competency and making change management everyone’s job.
Nyawera Kibuka, Change Advisor and Prosci Advanced Instructor for East Africa @ Cedar Consulting http://cedarconsulting.co.ke