Change has a funny way of catching up to you at times. My children recently started their first years of college and high school respectively. Summer gave way to fall and the elections are just around the corner. I know I’m not alone in thinking that sometimes we just want to hit the pause button and slow things down.
In the workforce, change can equally be as powerful and impactful as in our personal lives. As HR professionals, it is our duty to help our colleagues navigate change.
There are plenty of examples that create temporary or permanent changes in an organization’s cultural environment. For example, the desire to hire new employees, assess or adjust department structures, develop leadership teams, or institute new programs can all require employees to adjust the way they work, and impacts the culture.
As HR professionals, there are steps that can be taken to ensure that any change, both large and small, is executed, well received, successful, and long lasting within your organization. A few considerations:
Assess and Determine the Organizational Culture: As HR professionals, daily interactions can provide a glimpse of the cultural dynamics within an organization. However, it is important to proactively and more directly explore the organizational culture at all levels. It’s helpful to conduct regular employee surveys or focus groups to identify employee concerns, values, priorities, norms and issues. Focus groups can also provide you with a venue to test new ideas or initiatives before they become formal.
Having this first hand, real time knowledge pertaining to your organizational culture provides leadership with tools and information needed to align change management approaches that specifically address employee needs, concerns and expectations.
Leadership Development: It is critical for any organization to have an enlightened leadership team who understands the nuances that come with large or small-scale change initiatives. As HR professionals, our role is to evaluate, develop and implement leadership training programs that focus on tangible, business and management skills as well as emotional intelligence including, but not limited to, empathy, decision making, and stress management. Robust leadership education and development is critical to the success of implementing a workforce culture that embraces change, rather than runs from it.
Align HR Programs and Practices to Support a Fluid Organizational Culture: Help hold your organizational leadership accountable for creating a culture that embraces new ideas and change. Evaluate current HR programs and practices, such as compensation and employee benefits to determine if they reinforce, support or encourage change. If they don’t – adapt them; if they don’t exist – create them!
Self-Reflection: Do you know how you personally react to change? This understanding is crucial for someone who is typically tasked at spearheading workforce change initiatives through your organization. Take time to reflect on how you respond to requests and ideas. Do you immediately rush to judgment or do you take time to evaluate and reflect on all facets of the request before you provide guidance? Spending more time listening, asking for feedback, or taking assessment tools such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can all be extremely useful to determine how you react to change and can make you a better facilitator of change.
While there’s nothing we can do about our kids growing up and moving on with their lives, there are so many things we can do to ensure we’re ready for organizational change. Take control by being prepared! Consider these steps to help you meet change head on and not be caught off guard.