It occurs to me that many of us do not really know what change management is. There is a significant difference between what most of us think about, and what real change management means. Most of us think about transitional change. Transitional change occurs when we implement new systems, policies, cost centers, etc.. This is all very important to communicate and train regarding these changes, but transitional change is not what change management professionals think about.
Behavioral change is the core of change management. In behavioral change, we ask several questions:
- How do I communicate change
- How do I convince people this change is important to them?
- How do I get people to embrace change?
So if we look at implementing an HRO contract, there are both types of change going on. Many processes and systems will need to have systems training applied to them. HR practitioners will need training on how to use systems, and so will employees and managers need to learn how to process transactions on self service. These are transactional changes that must be learned for behavioral changes to even be possible.
Within this same implementation, how do we get the field HR generalists to apply a different set of skills, increase the adoption of self service among managers and employees, and make HR practitioners act less tactically? These are the behavioral changes that drive success. Transactional learning is nothing if real behaviors are not modified.
Let’s go back to the Mercer article from last week for some insight into change management:
A striking number of participants reported that they were caught up in major change initiatives. The overwhelming majority – there were perhaps only four or five exceptions out of 65 guests – said they had just completed a major restructuring of their company and its HR operations or, more frequently, were continuing to pursue such efforts.
This has led some to conclude that change management is the principal function of HR today and tomorrow. “HR is really about how organizations can manage change.” Others put the proposition more aggressively, noting that this isn’t work for the fainthearted: “HR must be able to lead and manage change. They must be willing to walk the talk; they must be willing to blow everything up and change it. They must be able to change systems and to challenge the way the company does things.”
While at least one participant decried the lack of a standard definition for “change management,” certain imperatives came up repeatedly:
- Communicating why change is necessary.
- Adjusting reward systems accordingly, and using them as part of the educational effort.
- Doing away with old structures.
- Changing the corporate culture to support the new.
- Championing innovation.
November 1, 2005. “Tempered by Fire: Where HR Is. Where It Needs to Go.” Harvard Business School Publishing.