The intersection between HR strategy and HR technology

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Managing Change in Your HR Staff – Part 3

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Of couse not all HR change management means displacing staff (see parts 1 & 2). What every change management professional knows (and not all HR practitioners share this knowledge) is that there are several distinct levels of change:

  • Level 1: training and the conveyance of knowledge
  • Level 2: training and the aquisition of skills
  • Level 3: full adoption of change

Sometimes you really just need to change process and technology. In these cases, some nice, crisp training is in order. Training is easy though – you can pay for it through vendors, or you can develop it yourself with subject matter experts from the implementation team working with the trainers. Perhaps most cases of change occure informally where minor modifications are made to process.

However, when more major changes take place and technology or process are getting replaced, then skillsets and competencies may also change with it. For example, if HRIS acquires a new OLAP tool that allows them to perform detailed analytics, there is a skillset leap from ad hoc to OLAP. The same may be said for the paper and pencil performance manager who gets a fully automated system. That performance manager now needs to understand systems in a way s/he has never had to in the past. One of the most effective means of acquiring the right skills is for key practitioners to be engaged in the implementation process. Anyone who’s been through an implementation knows this: after an implementation, you know the (process or technology) system better than you really care to.

The last bullet is really the most important – adoption is the key indicator of a new program’s success or failure. If your practitioners have not adopted the new program, then they will not strive to see it succeed. The critical paths to adoption are similar to those for any other project. First, identify the “wins” that each individual will get from the new program. Second, identify the wins that the organization will get from the new program. Each of these should provide a basis for ongoing communications with a particular employee or group of employees.

I say ongoing because you’ll want to repeat the adoption message over time until you know that you’ve achieved your goal.  You’ll also want to measure the level of success in your program and use those measurements as both an indicator of adoption and possibly also for program rewards.  Some employees just respond better to tangible rewards such as bonuses.

Whatever your change management project is for, my point over the last 3 days is simple:  Change management is much more than training people in preparation for a new program.  True change management is an integrated approach to learning and adoption – both are necessary for true change.

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