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HRINZ Conference 2004 Shifting the Thinking
HRINZ Conference 2004 Shifting the Thinking
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concurrent workshops (HR Interactions)

A1 Driving Successful Change

Justine Reese and Mike Stenhouse, Sheffield

Typically, in any change presentation we would discuss moving from present state through transition to locking in the new future state. Well, when did change ever go that way?

Today, we will start with what is keeping your CEO awake at night. That is likely to be where change is going to be driven. Human Resources has an integral part to play in leading successful change throughout the organisation.

We will look at your role in driving change in your organisation and how you need to help enable the organisation to deliver against these objectives. Many organisations spend a lot of time endeavouring to change those most resistance to change and little time on those really committed to make it happen. What impact does this have on your ability to deliver? And what about those who sit on the fence in the middle, many of them “change survivors” from previous initiatives?

We will discuss how to help employees and managers navigate their way through change and review what obstacles may be in the way. Often change is only associated with the change in structure. New structure, old methods can risk worse results. It can be about structure, but it needs to be about the way we do business.

And finally we will look at the most common pitfalls management can fall into in managing change and what to avoid.

Session Indicator





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Presentation 90%; Q&A 10%




What is keeping your CEO’s awake at night? Hopefully not indigestion, but some of the changes your organisation needs to implement might cause indigestion. Those items that are keeping your CEO awake at night, will invariably result in your business having to change the way it does business to remain competitive, innovative and delivering results to all stake holders. Now is the time for the Human Resources to facilitate the implementation of successful change through the organisation.

Here are some questions that might be burning the midnight oil (from a people perspective):

  • Are our employees more productive than our competitors (by whatever measure $$ cost, productivity, production per hour).
  • Why do we spend most of our time on the lower performing employees??
  • How many lower performing employees become stars through employee relations action?
  • What percent of the people we have are a mistake? And what happens to them?

Maybe, the HR Director is also awake at night?

In driving successful change, the CEO expectations of HR to deliver is crucial to success. They need to be building competitive advantage for the organisation, not building policy and procedures libraries. They need to lead organisation change and they better make a difference.

  • Align the business strategy and people strategy.
  • Ensure clear, consistent communication is provided and understood. Common understanding of the “Chase” rationale.
  • Providing the tools and capabilities to assist managers implement change.
  • Role model leadership of new behaviours required. Be clear on behaviour and key actions that all can observe.
  • Ensure the senior leadership team demonstrate and role model the new behaviours and communicate consistently.
  • Strong project management capability is provided. “The detail is in the detail”. A discipline to deliver on time, every time.
  • Ensure the right people are hired against the right competencies and organisational “fit”.

Human Resources need to drive to transform the business not just transact with the business. In the internet age, speed and capability is vital.

In driving change, look at where you are spending most of your time. Is it on the 5% of employees who are the most resistant to change, or the 5% of employees most motivated to embrace changes. In the graph below there is a significant opportunity to move those “sitting on the fence” forward being motivated to change. Often, companies spend too much time on those employees most resistant to change. Give them every opportunity to be involved, but at some point they will need to decide whether they are on board or not. Peer pressure can be a key driver to engage support.

Where are you spending all your time?

With those on board, you will need to help them navigate “successful change”. Here are some points in establishing the “context” for change.

  • Common understanding – of the vision, direction and the competitive’s situation necessitating change.
  • Encourage discussion – get different parts of the business talking together.
  • Provide appropriate resources– authority, time, skilled resources to the job.
  • Co-ordinate and align projects – how do the building blocks fit together and communicate how they together create the “big” picture.
  • Consistency of message, activities and behaviours.
  • Identify and address the people issues early – people will be at the heart of any change implementation.

Often organisations only relate “change” to organisational structure. There is an inherent risk here, of making organisational structure changes and not changing the way we do things, risking worse results.

Now we have discussed what to do to drive “successful change”, let’s mention what to watch out for.

Most common “pitfalls”:

  • “management is the message”
  • everything that a manager does or doesn’t do, sends a message
  • too many think communication is HR’s role
  • rumours will fill the vacuum
  • Not building trust
    • Takes weeks to build and you can blow it in an afternoon
  • Lack of clarity of vision and/or direction
    • Danger of creating a number of disjointed and confused projects
    • No clear sense of where we are going
  • Not providing appropriate skilled resources
    • Project management skills and capability is a must
    • Providing employees to projects who have the “time” but not the skills
  • Not gaining commitment
    • How can I help make this a success?
  • Not creating and celebrating small wins
    • Difficult to maintain momentum without celebration along the way
  • Not cementing strategic changes
  • New behaviours (how should I behave?)
  • New expectations of performance
  • Shared visions and values
  • Understanding how you have improved performance

Driving change is not easy, but there are some fundamental steps to take, to ensure your success in implementation and a restful night’s sleep.

Justine Reese, a registered psychologist is the Principal of Sheffield's Christchurch office. As well as 7 years consulting experience she has held various line management and HR management positions. Given her background, her approach to change is typically pragmatic and focused upon what actually works from an operational perspective. Her views reflect current trends in HR theory as well as insights gained from first hand experience as both a consultant and a practioner. Justine specializes in executive development, performance management and competency based HR initiatives, she is also a fully accredited DDI (Development Dimensions International) Facilitator.

Mike Stenhouse is a Partner of Sheffield Limited. Following initial training and experience in accounting, he has had twenty-two years experience in the human resource consulting with particular involvement in, executive search and selection, board appointments and reviews of board effectiveness, remuneration consulting and organisational development projects.

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