How To Build A Workforce Of Relentless Change Agents


Human Resources plays a crucial role when leveraging change management as a tool to effect business transformation. A digital transformation exercise is not an event but a journey that the organizations need to embrace. In this journey, HR professionals play the role of a change agent. Organizations can fail in this initiative without understanding how to make this transformation journey worthwhile for employees.

Bringing a transformative shift to your people practices involves engineering a shift in the mindset, and process. Right from a project management standpoint to enabling people and systems, architecting and managing change will be critical to the success of your HR transformation journey.

Understand the trigger to change:

In a webcast on the topic “Architecting and managing change” by Oracle, the V-model of change explains what drives change.

The V-model contains a series of drivers and the consequent outcomes that impact the organization and its stakeholders. The model includes three drivers:- External Drivers: These are the VUCA or competition driven external drivers, i.e., factors in the external environment stimulating a drive for change. E.g. economy, laws, and trends. The outcomes of these drivers is that it creates the business case for change.- Organizational Drivers: These are the factors that drive the need for change in the organization. These factors can be an organizational vision, missions, culture, etc. These drivers lead to a change in the operating model, culture and processes.

- Individual and Team Drivers: These factors create an internal drive for change. These are the personal goals, agendas, wishes, and dreams which are the subset of an organization that you work for. The outcome of these drives are new roles and responsibilities.

The reasons for resistance to change

Individuals resist change when they do not understand the real purpose of the proposed changes. It is one of the most difficult problems plaguing business executives. Such resistance may be manifested in various forms- reduced output, slowdowns or strikes, attrition, etc.  The most common reasons why people resist changes are:

- Loss of control

- Fear of the unknown

- Fear of complexity

-  Force of habit

- Increased work load

Dealing with resistance

The following key pillars to halt resistance from people towards change can be effectively used across enterprises of all sizes and industries.

1. Visible Leadership:

It is cardinal that the role of effective leadership not be underestimated in the change process. Change, in most cases is driven from the top. The vision for change arises from the top management of a company and engagement by the executive team can make or break the implementation effort. Here is how you can get your leaders to get involved in the overall change process:

·         Develop an understanding of where groups/individuals are in the change cycle

·         Listen and acknowledge fears and concerns

·         Remove obstacles and barriers

·         Reinforce the benefits of change

·         Thank and recognize each for their contributions and embarking on the change journey

·         Identifying training and development opportunities for your team

·         Involve your team in decision making

·         Encourage team members to ask questions and talk about the role they plan or how the change fits into the larger picture.

2. Role-modelling right behaviors:

Role modeling right behavior is vital for the transformation process to be successful. Demonstrating desired behaviors provides credibility to the message of behaviors. The following steps by a leader can help employees to pick up the right set of behaviors to embrace change:

·         Live the change- Not only talk about the change, but take steps that make it happen

·         Set an example and model desired behavior

·         Be enthusiastic and committed to the transformation

·         Approach change in an open and consultative manner

·         Utilize opportunities to enhance your own and team skills to be more effective in the future state.

·         Show appreciation for the fact that change can be difficult and very personal

·         Understand and influence key stakeholders within business units and external customers

3. Listening and Communicating:

The most common pitfall in any transformation is under communicating the vision and the change process. It is essential to use every channel possible to communicate the new vision and strategies for achieving it. There should be no scope for ambiguity. Here are some ways in which you can communicate with your employees and teach them new habits by the example of the guiding coalition:

·         Communicate with your team directly- don’t wait

·         Actively listen to team members and ask questions to check for understanding

·         Provide additional information and more frequent face-to-face contact

·         Make yourself available to talk to your team members

·         Increase engagement with your staff and business unit counterparts

·         Continue career development discussions with each of your direct reports

·         Develop and communicate a shared understanding of the way forward

·         Promote and sustain the impetus for change

·         Ensure everyone understands the rationale and benefits of the change

The quote by Heraclitus, “the only thing that is constant is change” stands truer today than ever. However, change is not easy. That is because most people fear the unknown and hence, are reluctant to adapt to changes around them. However, with the right mix of motivational leadership, right behaviors and a compelling vision can help organizations manage people to not only adjust to as well as manage the changes, but also to standardize the new approaches.