As new working models disrupt businesses, HR transformation is becoming an ongoing exercise. Each transformation journey involves significant macro and micro level changes. But change resistance, also known as homeostasis can derail efforts. A disengaged and anxious workforce hampers the outcome. It is, therefore, critical for HR to hand-hold employees throughout the transformation journey.
The people challenge in HR Transformation
Transformation occurs at various levels- technology, infrastructure, processes and policies, values and culture, strategy etc. It is critical to align them to create a future-focused entity that steers everyone towards success. This means clearing the air of uncertainty and doubt. Some common questions that need to be addressed include:
- What is the shift in the role in the new organizational structure?
- Will the leadership change and how will it affect me?
- What new technologies and processes will I have to follow?
- What new skills am I expected to learn? Or rather, will my skills get outdated in the new organization?
- This looks like a risky initiative, how can I safeguard myself?
Adopting a people-first approach to transformation
Involving and engaging people, and building trust is critical to bring about a talent-centric transformation strategy. Trust fosters a high degree of collaboration, positivity, employee engagement and retention, innovation, etc. A people-first, trust-based approach to HR transformation, starts by addressing these questions:
- Are we transforming for the right reasons? HR must outline the business-need for transforming HR by defining the goals and desired outcomes. This must translate to authentic organizational values which employees can genuinely align with.
- Do we have the right transformation team? Trustworthy and approachable leaders can greatly bridge the trust-gap in any transformation. HR must invest in top talent who can inspire and convey belief in peoples’ advancement.
- Do we have the right skills? As operating patterns change during any transformation, there will be a need for new skills and new roles. HR must assess the existing talent pool, and don the right balance of build-versus-buy for new skills and roles.
- What are the expected future-outcomes? With transformation, come new performance expectations. HR must define and clearly communicate, the expected outcomes for various roles. A blend of formal performance management system, plus informal employee touchpoints such as leadership-connects, manager-employee check-ins etc can help build trust.
- Do we have a communication plan? Systematic, open and transparent communication channels go a long way in engaging employees. HR must craft a two-way communication plan to “inform”, as well as address employee sensitivities.
- Leadership connect: ‘It takes an average of seven months for employees to build their trust in a leader, but less than half that time for them to lose it,’ says a research study. Institutionalized communication channels can help foster leadership connect- Townhalls, one-on-one interactions, panel discussions, leader podcasts, etc.
- Listening teams: Establish a sense of ‘belonging’ by encouraging employees to ‘speak up’. Identify people and train them to address employee concerns, and ensure they are accessible.
- Collaboration tools: Employees would be more comfortable expressing their sentiment online. Build communication and sharing platforms where people can share and support each other.
- Skill-building interventions: HR and L&D must invest in upskilling and reskilling people by building intuitive and engaging learning mechanisms. The learning-messaging should be clear- that HR is here to help people adapt to the change and emerge successful. This means adopting more relevant learning technologies that employees truly find useful. Harness the power of mentoring, coaching, micro-learning, mobile-learning etc. to retain the right people.
- Wellness support: HR transformation can trigger a range of psychological issues in employees. It is important to coach, counsel and support them. Setting up a counselling helpdesk with a trained counsellor can help employees reach out even anonymously.
Trust is one of the biggest building-blocks for successful HR transformation, it ensures employees are not merely change-beholders, but become change-champions !