How HR can champion change

by Chloe Taylor30 Mar 2015
Change management is a core, but challenging, aspect of working in HR.

Being a change facilitator often involves dealing with issues arising from employees’ lack of enthusiasm or confusion about the overhaul – but how can these problems be tackled?

HRD Singapore spoke to Arlene Wherret, managing director, Asia Pacific at Bluewolf, about the challenges involved in implementing change.

Communication is key

According to Wherret, it is vital that change facilitators communicate what the vision for the transition is; and what it will help the business to achieve.

Additionally, helping those who will be impacted with training – which Wherret referred to as “the most traditional component of change management” – is fundamental.

“Ensure you capture their suggestions,” she advised.

Her insights are backed up by the employers’ habits. According to Bluewolf’s The State of the Workforce 2014-2015: Australia Edition report, 82% of companies consult those who will be affected before making changes, while almost three in four employers provide training when new functionalities are released.

The biggest challenge

“The biggest challenge of all in change management is behavioural change,” Wherret told HRD Singapore. “Employees can often struggle to understand why the change is being implemented, or why it is of relevance to their job or the organisation as a whole.”

She advised change facilitators that people need to hear the reasoning behind the change on “a very repeated basis”.

“Sometimes change can become quite serious and all about the bottom line,” Wherret said. Try raising it up to something more fun – talk about the impact of the change on teamwork and the workplace.”

Change champion

Strong communication is essential – not only from senior leaders, but also sound bites from the team leaders who work daily with those who will be impacted by the change. 

“Formal and informal communication networks from influential leaders are really useful,” Wherret said. “We like to put in a change champion strategy so that some individuals get more early training and can champion the change across the business.”

“The change champion strategy has a very positive impact.” 


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