getting change right – HR’s role in driving change


getting change right – HR’s role in driving change


It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change. - Charles Darwin


Change is everywhere. Change is crucial. And change is hard. HR can have a critical role to play in driving successful change. 


Peter Cheese, head of the CIPD, made his views clear in an ‘We’re experiencing rapid change in a time of uncertainty and organisations must reinvent themselves. Who better placed to help shape this agenda than HR? (December 2013).


What role should HR play when it comes to change?


True strategic partnership involves more than operational and procedural support


We constantly hear that HR needs to be more strategic. It is becoming increasingly difficult to separate operations and change in today’s fast moving world. There is a real and present opportunity for HR to drive some of the most critical aspects of change – those which succeed or fail through the human capital invested in them.


Change is all about people – there really is no such thing as an IT project. HR can – and should – take the lead on driving successful change, even when there is no procedural HR workstream involving structural change, TUPE or headcount reduction to deliver.


Truly strategic HR partners can drive and support change delivery in many ways by taking a holistic approach:


  • Tie in with the talent agenda - assign change projects to high potentials as development opportunities, and support them through delivery

  • Provide or source executive coaching to focus on achievement of successful change outcomes

  • Work alongside change teams to identify and resolve the root causes of resistance to change

  • Work with executive and change teams to ensure projects are appropriately resourced

  • Deliver or source training for employees impacted by change

  • Understand how change aligns with strategy and support communications with stakeholders

  • Ensure that the appropriate reward systems are in place to embed the change


It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be. - Isaac Asimov


When projects go wrong


Only 39% of projects deliver the expected benefits on time, to budget and to the right quality. This represents a huge waste of emotion, time, talent and money.


Many of the reasons why projects fail can be addressed – directly or indirectly - by a fully engaged and integrated HR strategic partner:


  • stakeholder conflict

  • poorly defined roles & responsibilities

  • ineffective communications

  • insufficient resources

  • business politics

  • ignoring early warning signs when things start to go wrong

  • soft skills deficiency

  • inability or unwillingness to adapt

  • team weaknesses

  • lack of organisational support


When – and how – do you intervene when it all goes pear shaped?