Maverick Catalyst The Maverick Paradox
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Heralding change
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Organisations need HR to be the change champion

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Becoming a change champion within your organisation is something that HR is always keen to promote, but, argues Judith Germain, isn't HR the true herald of change? 

21st Sep 2021
Maverick Catalyst The Maverick Paradox
Columnist
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HR is often responsible for ensuring that real change takes place within the organisation, even if they do not have the right tools or resources to make it happen. Therefore, becoming a change champion that has the necessary influence, confidence, and ability to make an impact and have the right support to ensure that change really happens, is not always easy.

Recognising HR’s strengths

It’s readily understood that the VUCA world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) that we have all been talking about for the last 20 years or so, is finally here with a vengeance. And it’s not going away, ever.

Every industry, every sector and every organisation needs change eager individuals that understand the philosophy of Maverick Leadership. These individuals, who value tolerance and inclusion, work for the greater good, are curious, principled people of integrity, who execute well with empathy and passion. The very thing that HR should be known for. Don’t you think?

Every industry, every sector and every organisation needs change eager individuals that understand the philosophy of Maverick Leadership

So, why is it that when it comes to change, HR is often regulated to being the enforcer of someone else’s mission? Or when HR suggests that change is necessary, it’s so hard to convince the rest of the senior team? 

There are three things HR needs to consider to become an influential change champion that is able and confident to make a difference throughout your organisation:

  • HR are change champions, not just owners of change
  • HR is an influential force for good
  • HR needs support systems in place to make change effective

Change is HR’s business

For organisational change to be effective, it is not enough for the HR professional to be seen as the owner of change, they need to be an active advocate of change as well. After all, HR’s capability to function well, is rooted in its understanding of the human dynamic, behaviour and attitude to change, and the organisation’s ability to change and the strategic direction that it wants to go in.

HR considers the past, the present and the future to guide the organisation to the right action at the right time

HR recognises that we are all either transitioning to or from change and the pauses in between transition are rapidly reducing. It’s therefore important that individuals are helped in managing these constant transitions, therefore reducing change resistance and improving the likelihood of organisational success.

HR is the only function within an organisation that does not have a self-interested bias and one that is rooted in three timelines. When helping the organisation find the right strategic direction, HR considers the past, the present and the future to guide the organisation to the right action at the right time. HR has that 360 degree oversight and knowledge of what to do with all the moving, shifting parts.

This is why HR must consider itself and influence the senior leadership team in such a way, that the organisation recognises that HR is the change champion that it must utilise, each and every time, if they want the organisation to be successful. This is because effective change needs to be mindful of what else is occurring within the organisation, the skill sets of the managers and the employees, as well as the attitudes and mindset of the entire workforce. This is not a passive endeavour that change ownership implies but true active advocacy.

HR is influential

In its coveted position of being able to have an ego free, bird’s eye holistic view of the organisation and its people, HR can dive down into the detail of each department or the organisation as a whole, to ensure that when change is mentioned it is for the greater good, delivering real impact. Skilled in HR and knowledgeable of the business, the effective HR professional can elicit trust from all stakeholders. When you are trusted you are able to be an effective guide into and out of change.

To become more influential within the organisation you need to:

  • Become a person of integrity. Integrity of character (are you trusted and trustworthy?), and integrity of your environment (are you in a state of being whole and undivided?)
  • Build personal connections with people so that it is easier for them to trust your intentions and you have a ready-made engaged network
  • Ensure that you know what you are talking about! If you don’t, listen well, and challenge effectively so that both parties understand the underlying issues and what is needed to change them
  • Become resilient and stay focused on what’s important and remember that all actions impact people

The HR change network

It’s impossible to be a change champion on your own. HR needs support both within and without the organisation to be effective. Within the organisation, HR needs to cultivate an active and willing network of change agents and influencers, to ensure that change happens in a way that supports the organisation and is for the greater good. 

Your network should have individuals that can:

  • Change eager and enjoy innovating new ideas and testing to see whether they can be implemented well
  • Problem solve and challenge existing ideas
  • De-risk solutions and take, influence acceptable risks
  • Understand human behaviour and have good emotional intelligence skills
  • Network well and cultivate engaged participation

These individuals should also be influential with their peers and be drawn from across the organisation (in times of widespread change) or from the affected population (when change is localised).

HR has 360-degree oversight of the organisation, it would be a tragedy if this objectivity was not utilised effectively

If the HR professional finds themselves without peer support within the organisation, then they can seek it externally. For example, I have run strategic change boards with senior leaders from different organisations. This has enabled the change champions to have support, learn from the facilitators and their peers in other organisations as well as soundboard proposed ideas in a confidential environment. It can be. An effective way to support change back in your own organisation.

However, you seek support, it is important that you gain support in your endeavours, be recognised as a change champion for the organisation, with change agents and influencers willing and active in advocating the change you are championing.

HR has 360-degree oversight of the organisation, it would be a tragedy if this objectivity was not utilised effectively, to the betterment of the organisation and the people that work with and within it. Don’t just own change, champion it.

 

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