Case studies illustrate key role of HR in transformational change 0

As economy picks up, implementing change is greatest management challenge in coming yearA growing understanding of the importance of breaking down silos between workplace disciplines has resulted in initiatives such as the launch of the Workplace Conversation. Now a new report from the CIPD and the University of Bath, features four change management case studies that demonstrate what can be achieved when HR becoming an integral part of the team responsible for designing and implementing all the processes required during periods of transformational change. The report, Landing transformational change: Closing the gap between theory and practice features BBC Worldwide, HMRC, News UK and Zurich UK Life and reveal that in all these cases, the HR function was most successful when it facilitated action, enabling managers to inject their own customisation to suit the needs of their divisions, rather than adopting a more centralised approach to implementing change.

At BBC Worldwide, for example, HR was described as ‘horizontal, running throughout’ and ‘part of the senior team’. Similarly, Zurich UK Life talked of HR as a facilitator of change across the organisation, encouraging middle managers to adapt the implementation of change to fit their role rather than behaving as a monitor for senior management. Expert facilitation like this clearly relies on strong personal relationships built on mutual respect between senior business leaders and HR leaders, and as the report notes, this shows an increasing recognition of HR leaders’ expertise and value, rather than just the applicators of rules and procedures.

Ruth Stuart, Lead Consultant – Strategic Projects at the CIPD, commented: “In a volatile world of work, change has become one of the few constants. As organisations evolve and adapt in response to this, we’re seeing a new generation of business leaders emerge that are much better equipped with the knowledge and capability to land transformational change.

“But what’s also evident from this report is the increasing presence of HR in change management programmes, supporting CEOs and business leaders in putting that change into action. It’s great to see so many have understood the concurrent opportunities available to them in times of transformational change, and adapted accordingly to make themselves indispensable to the process.”

The report also found that HR professionals are using a variety of skills to assist senior leaders and CEOs in times of transformational change. In the design stage for example, HR professionals used their analytical skills to interpret data and read the context through the interpretation of data sets, and pass that knowledge on to senior teams.

Similarly, in the implementation stage of change, HR professionals have demonstrated leadership skills in engaging managers through active listening and dialogue. Subsequently, the case studies show evidence of new career paths being carved out for talented HR professionals, as a result of the strategic roles played during times of change.

Stuart continues: “Our research into what the HR profession of the future looks like shows that building up expert knowledge to create value is crucial. Case study evidence of HR professionals using their skills to great use in change management seems a strong validation of the importance of organisational development (OD) as a core HR role and the profession being valued as a critical function by senior business leaders.

“With increasing demand for tools such as ‘big data’, the future is certain to show greater demand for HR and OD professionals to use these skills in order to influence important business decisions. It’s these skills and capabilities that will keep HR professionals integral in times of significant change.”

To download the full report, click here