Change Management for Human Resources Professionals
Written by Tim Creasey
Based on Prosci’s best practices research, the top thing companies would do differently when implementing a major process, system or cultural change is to utilize an effective and planned change management program.
But when organizations don't deploy change management early, the responsibility can fall on HR professionals to make the project successful.
Prosci research shows that change management, when not introduced at the beginning of a project, usually falls upon the HR department; they are stuck trying to make the project work. Project managers, team leaders and executives are notorious for forgetting about the people side of change. The HR department then becomes the sole advocate and only party dedicated to the people side of change. They are invited into the project late, at the middle or the end, to magically create peace from chaos.
"Our plant has been working on managing a 'cultural change’ project. We have invested thousands of hours planning and developing the strategy. If we had the opportunity to attend Prosci’s ‘change management training’ and to use the tools provided in it before starting this project we could have cut the amount of time and money spent by at least 50%."
—Jose Gonzales, LEAR, Director of Human Resources
Change management becomes exponentially more difficult the longer it is not addressed, but the Prosci Methodology makes it possible to assess damage control, make the best of a poorly planned situation and recoup late in the game.
The key point for HR, as well as other parties involved, is the extreme importance of getting HR "a seat at the table" at the beginning of any large project. Proactive change management makes everybody’s job easier and more successful. Once HR is present on a project (whether at the beginning, middle or end) they must know how to initiate and manage the people side of change. Change management is the missing piece that takes good ideas and turns them into business success.
HR is the catalyst needed to introduce and implement change management at its most effective stage: the very beginning. It is important that HR understands change management and the ways to effectively utilize their resources.
How to build commitment and support for change management
How does HR go about introducing and building buy in for change management at the beginning of a project? It is essential that the HR team first understands change management and obtains the resources and information to be knowledgeable in the field.
The most effective and productive way to get "a seat at the table" at the beginning of any project will require you to demonstrate the WIIFM—or "What’s in it for me?"—to others. Utilizing change management as your strategy to answer these questions not only builds support and commitment for change management, it will ultimately get you a seat at the table.
Why change management?
Without change management, project teams experience resistant behaviors from stakeholders in the organization. Research says this resistance is the greatest obstacle to change management, and it impacts the project team and its success. HR can play a vital role in managing resistance to change and helping the team succeed.
Here's how to start the process of bringing change management to your organization.
- Believe in the cause
- Become comfortable and immersed in the field of change management
- Introduce the discipline of change management and clarify its meaning. And make sure others know the difference between organizational change management (i.e., managing the people side of organizational changes) and change management in IT (e.g., changing versions of software code, replacing infrastructure, updating security policies).
- Use best practices research and data to show the importance of change management and what it can do for the success of a project (WIIFM)
- Be a resource by providing people with learning materials and allowing them time to ask questions