Explore the Levels of Change Management

Change Management for Human Resources Professionals

Tori Tipton

8 Mins

A seamless and efficient change management process is the ideal solution for every organization. But it’s not always easy. The good news is that aligning HR with change management processes helps you overcome many common challenges.  

Resistance to change, breakdown in communication, and cultural misalignment are just a few examples of factors that can influence the success of your change management efforts. But when HR teams actively engage in the change management process using a structured approach, they can guide individuals through the change, overcome roadblocks, and provide support while change occurs. HR change management can also increase employee buy-in and help business leaders navigate and manage the change process.

Here's how to align HR in your change management processes and how to do it effectively.

What is HR Change Management?

Change management is the process of navigating and adapting to new ways of working. HR supports the human side of these changes, ensuring that people feel supported, prepared, and able to incorporate the changes.

During the change management process, HR teams can:

  • Assess change readiness by reviewing whether people have the skills, capacity and willingness to adapt to change. If there are any gaps in these areas, they will figure out how best to fill them.
  • Deliver communication about changes to ensure everyone understands what changes are taking place, why they’re happening, and how they will impact their day-to-day work.
  • Provide training on relevant changes and processes. For example, if you’re launching a new HR system in your organization, an HR professional would host training sessions on how it works, how to submit holiday requests, where to find their personal information, etc.
  • Track the impact of the change to follow progress, measure success, and identify areas of improvement. If things aren’t going to plan, they can step in to get back on track.
  • Manage resistance to help employees overcome roadblocks, show the value of change, and increase stakeholder buy-in. This is a crucial part of HR’s role in change management. You can only launch a successful change if everyone’s on board, and that’s what HR teams try to achieve.

During an organizational change, HR is your support system and guide rolled into one.

Why Is Change Management Important in Human Resource Management?

Let’s examine why change management is an important aspect of human resource management.

  • Guiding managers through the process. HR teams can offer valuable support and guidance to people leaders who often manage change or implement new processes. They provide knowledge, tools and skills to manage change successfully, and can inform managers about common resistance areas and how to overcome them.
  • Creating a smooth transition. Poorly managed change can disrupt the day-to-day activities of a company. Implementing a new CRM, for example, can interrupt business operations, and cause delays or missed deadlines. However, with an effective change management process, HR professionals minimize disruption and ensure business functions run smoothly.
  • Increasing employee buy-in and commitment. Employee buy-in and commitment is vital for effective change management—especially for enterprise businesses with various teams and departments. You need every single person on board to implement changes effectively. With HR involvement, you can get employees to adopt changes for the better. Over time, it encourages employees to be open to change, making the entire process more accessible for the organization.

HR's involvement in change management is essential. It helps ensure smooth transitions and strong employee engagement. Using effective tools and strategies, HR can effectively navigate change, aligning it with organizational goals for successful outcomes.

Common Challenges in HR Change Management

Common roadblocks can make change management challenging for HR professionals:

Missing the early stages of the process

Prosci research shows that change management, when not introduced at the beginning of a project, usually falls upon the HR department. Project managers, team leaders and executives often forget about the people side of change. So, the HR department becomes the sole advocate for managing people through the change process. HR is often invited into the project late, at the middle, or at the end, to magically create peace from chaos.

Lack of leadership support

HR professionals can struggle to support the change management process without leadership backing. It creates an unclear vision for change, making it hard for HR professionals to understand and relay change objectives to the rest of the organization.

Communication issues

A lack of clear communication—a common issue in growing companies—can lead to team misunderstandings.

HR often needs to be the mediator between change management teams and employees in the company, so these comms issues can knock on their ability to do their job. For example, they might struggle to update people on the change timeline. This can impact employee experience and morale, making it harder to get employee buy-in and commitment.

Cultural resistance

HR professionals deal directly with people, meaning they often come into contact with resistance to cultural shifts—mostly from employees comfortable with the existing culture. This common challenge can crop up quickly as a business or organization grows because teams often don’t get to prepare for what’s to come.

HR professionals will work with these individuals to show the value of cultural change and how it will benefit each person in the long run, even if it feels scary.

Managing expectations

HR professionals often manage employee and leadership expectations during change initiatives. This can be challenging for various reasons, including scope changes, different people's desires, etc. 

It's easy to see why communication is so important during the change management process. It allows HR teams to keep up with what’s happening and successfully manage employee expectations. The good news is that you can ensure your HR teams are involved in the change management process from the outset with the right support.

Prosci supports HR teams and all enterprise clients with approaches and tools designed to support the entire change management process. We help them get the right people involved at the right time with the right information, so they manage the people side of change successfully.

Correlation of Excellent Change Management and Results

7X more likely circles-2023 (1)

Source: Prosci Research Hub

Prosci research shows that applying effective change management leads to more successful change.

How Can HR Facilitate Change?

Read through these tips to see how HR teams can effectively facilitate change.

Encourage early involvement

Early involvement makes the entire change management process easier for HR and the rest of the organization because it enables access to the following information:

  • What is the change?
  • Why it’s necessary
  • How it improves the business or organization
  • How it affects different departments and their employees

With this information at the beginning of the process, HR teams can prepare effectively to manage people throughout the change. Giving HR a seat at the table at the beginning of any change management discussion creates the opportunity to get their feedback, involve them in the process, and allow them to implement measures for a smooth transition.

Create a change management network

Establishing a change network of HR professionals, team leaders from various departments, and C-suite executives is essential for planning and executing changes effectively. Consider team leaders from different departments to create an effective change management network. Everyone should understand the organization’s culture well and have a proven record of effective collaboration.

With this collaborative network in place, your business will be much better prepared to incorporate change. Plus, it gives you access to different viewpoints and areas of expertise to ensure any changes are suitable for the entire organization.

Have a HR change management plan in place

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. This is where creating an HR change management plan can help.

Here are some common steps you might want to include in an HR change management plan:

  • Assess the upcoming change to understand what will happen and why it's necessary.
  • Identify key stakeholders to know who's involved in the change, their role, and how to support them.
  • Pinpoint potential challenges to prepare for hurdles and support team members through roadblocks.
  • Outline desired outcomes to clearly define your goals and recognize when they're achieved.
  • Create a Communications Plan to inform team members about the change, its timeline and its importance.
  • Develop a Training Plan to ensure everyone is ready for the change.
  • Implement a Sponsor Plan to engage top leaders in actively supporting and communicating the change.
  • Establish a People Manager Plan to involve managers in guiding their teams, acting as communicators, liaisons and coaches through the change process.

An effective HR change management plan keeps your team on track during shifts in the workplace. This way, your team can quickly adapt, keeping your business moving forward without missing a beat.

Use the Prosci Methodology

The Prosci Methodology is a framework for managing change. It helps organizations put people at the center of change, ensuring everyone can adopt and embrace changes in their work.

Here’s an overview of the three frameworks comprising the methodology: 

Visual of the Prosci Methodology and how the frameworks fit within it

Let’s look at each framework in more detail:

  • Prosci Change Triangle (PCT) Model. A framework for establishing and connecting the most important aspects of any successful change effort, it highlights where change management fits into the bigger picture by breaking it down into four critical aspects of change—Success, Leadership/Sponsorship, Project Management and Change Management.
  • Prosci ADKAR Model. ADKAR is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. It’s a model for guiding individuals through the experiences needed to make change.
  • Prosci 3-Phase Process. A structured yet flexible framework for driving change at an organizational level. It works through three phases—Phase 1 – Prepare Approach, Phase 2 – Manage Change, and Phase 3 – Sustain Outcomes—to successfully implement change.

When facilitating change, you can think of the Prosci Methodology as a detailed checklist for HR teams. They can work their way through the framework to provide the best support for individuals transitioning from a current state to a future one.

Get in touch with us for more information on these components or more support with your change management solutions.

Build commitment and support for change management

As mentioned, one of the key roles of HR within change management is to increase employee buy-in and commitment. In doing so, change becomes easier, more efficient, and more effective in the long term.

Here are two essentail ways HR teams should build support for change management:

Demonstrate clear benefits and WIIFM 

The most effective way to get "a seat at the table" at the beginning of any project requires you to demonstrate the WIIFM (or "What’s in it for me?") to people. To do this, you need to articulate how change will benefit individuals and help them overcome the barriers to change that lead to resistance behaviors.

For example, help employees understand how it will improve their work lives, job security, career opportunities or job satisfaction.

Tailor any communication

Customize communication to address the specific concerns, needs and interests of different stakeholder groups. By reaching out about individual concerns, you’re helping teams understand more about the change and why it’s necessary, which in turn creates a supportive environment.

For example, if a project manager is concerned that new changes will hinder productivity, you can speak to this directly. Or, if sales teams are worried about the impact on leads, you can address this.

Provide organizational learning and development

Organizational learning and development can help businesses during change management, making them more resilient and adaptable. When goals are constantly shifting and intensifying—as they are in most enterprise companies—these skills are essential to success. 

HR change management training

Here are some ways to incorporate learning and development to facilitate change:

Take change management training

Ensure you and all relevant people have the skills and understanding to manage change successfully. You can invest in training, like Prosci role-based training programs, to prepare and equip people managers, front-line employees, and sponsors to fulfill their specific roles. 

"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 ‘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

Identify learning needs

Conduct a needs assessment to understand skill gaps in your workforce and provide the necessary training to close those gaps. This can involve launching online surveys, conducting performance evaluations, or gathering employee feedback to spot where skills are lacking.

Incorporate mentoring, coaching, and peer-to-peer learning

Encourage the sharing of knowledge and skills among employees through peer-to-peer learning, communities of practice, and knowledge-sharing platforms.

For example, you could start by pairing experienced employees with those seeking to enhance their skills. This fosters a culture of continuous learning and builds relationships between employees which can improve collaboration during change management.

To apply these tips, consider these next steps:

  • Identify specific training – Equip your team with change management tools, knowledge and skills with targeted training like Prosci role-based training programs or eLearning courses.
  • Gauge needed skills – Use assessments to discover where your team can improve and grow.
  • Create a system for knowledge exchange – Create opportunities where team members can learn from one another’s experiences on a regular cadence, such as building them into existing meetings. 

Get Ready for Change With Prosci

HR professionals play a crucial role in change management. By supporting people throughout the process, addressing their concerns, and providing transparency, they help ensure everyone understands the reasons behind the change and how to succeed through changes. And your organization benefits from more commitment and alignment across teams, higher morale, and improved results from change initatives. 

Tori Tipton

Tori Tipton

Tori Tipton has over 25 years of experience driving change in Fortune 500 companies. Known for quickly building trust, she combines an approachable style with expertise in coaching, training, and program facilitation. Starting her career in HR, Tori honed her skills in people and change management through large-scale, cross-functional initiatives like restructuring and learning and development. She has since led successful SAP deployments, coached leaders on high-risk initiatives, and established new change management and project management offices.

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