Who Is in Charge of Driving Organizational Change?

Who Is in Charge of Driving Organizational Change?

Jul 3, 2017: Weekly Curated Thought-Sharing on Digital Disruption, Applied Neuroscience and Other Interesting Related Matters.

By Chuck Leddy

Curated by Helena M. Herrero Lamuedra

Change is about the complex interactions between people, processes and systems — and the people component of that “change triangle” is often the most challenging and the most important.

A great Harvard Business Review article, HR Can’t Change Company Culture by Itself, makes the point in its title, explaining: “True culture change means altering the way the organization lives and breathes. It shapes the way people make decisions, get their work done, what they prioritize, and how they interact with colleagues, clients and customers.”

The way your people think about change is a big part of your culture, but everyone from the top down must be in the business of managing change. The capacity to change in order to meet ever-evolving market and technological needs is where competitive advantage lives today, both for organizations and for talent. So the obvious question suggests itself: Who “owns” organizational change?

All Departments Must Collaboratively Drive Change

Organizational change is a business imperative that can be led from the top, but effective change cannot be imposed from the top. It only happens when everyone (all employees in each department/functional area) understands the reasons for the change, believes in its necessity and modifies their behaviors to sustain the new way of doing things. This process needs to happen both in the minds of people and across the entire organization.

As organizations analyze and meet their talent needs, for instance, adopting a more blended approach, HR will increasingly become a strategic partner with financial, IT, legal and procurement leaders. An Ernst & Young report makes this strategic partnership clear: HR, finance, IT and procurement leaders will each, “Bring insight and analysis…in a way that helps the business to strike the right balance between building, buying and deploying talent to support the business strategy.”

HR must be involved but so must other business areas such as finance, procurement, IT/technology, operations, legal and sales. When it comes to change, culture matters, but so do financial incentives, leadership communication, investments in talent and systems, skills development/training and more.

The Example of HP: IT, HR & Procurement Collaborate to Transform Global Sales

Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report offers a fine example of interdepartmental collaboration to drive business change. HP, the California-based technology company, drove change by reinventing its sales culture and fostering a workplace ecosystem that supports high-performing sales behaviors for its 6,500 global sales employees.

HP took a multidisciplinary and systematic approach, which involved several areas of the business beyond just sales, including technology, HR, procurement, legal, and finance and using its own data to assess sales behaviors for the entire organization. What HP actions led to sales? What actions had the most impact on what customers, and why? Could these actions be scaled across the global sales team? By analyzing the complex intersection of sales behaviors, activities, competencies, compensation and outcomes, HP gained actionable insights that led to a more effective sales team.

As Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report explains, “The findings from this multifaceted analysis has enabled HP’s top sales leaders to make ‘culture commitments’ at their global sales meeting in an effort to begin to transform the company’s sales culture.” HP is doing more of what works and less of what isn’t.

Workforce Management and the Blended Future: How HR Works with Procurement

The future of work will be a blending of full-time employees with on-demand external talent that companies can access on an as-needed basis using digital platforms. Easy access to on-demand talent allows organizations to remain agile as they meet their fast-evolving talent and business needs.

As author and keynote speaker Jacob Morgan explains, “The gig economy has transformed into highly adopted technology-based human capital solutions that connect nimble and innovative enterprises to a network of independent business professionals. Leveraging the gig economy gives businesses a chance to access a broader talent pool than with a traditional workforce model.” What’s more is that they can do it in a cost-effective and timely way.

Clearly, HR needs to play a big role in talent acquisition, but they can’t do it alone. Procurement, for instance, will also be a crucial component in any strategic partnership to acquire talent. While HR and the business identify specific talent needs they wish to bring in, procurement adds business value by understanding how to buy solutions (whether it’s talent platforms or accessing the talent itself) that contain costs and optimize efficiency.

Sourcing talent and creating the capacity to do so takes an interdepartmental, cross-functional approach. As individual business areas identify their on-demand talent needs, HR should be working with IT, procurement, finance, legal and other business functions to meet those ongoing talent needs.

The Need to Experiment and Learn

Agility is largely about the ability to learn and apply lessons moving forward. The goal of organizations should be to learn fast and in a way that doesn’t break the bank. An obvious course might be to set up pilot projects that involve a blended workforce. How will you find the on-demand talent you need? How will you manage and blend this talent? How will you integrate it into your overall culture and project needs? Learning starts with good questions like these, and then implementation of the experiments that begin to offer feedback and answers. This feedback supports continuous learning.

Agility is a mindset that must be supported, as change must be supported, by people, processes and systems acting together. Silos are anathema to building agility, not just departmental silos. The better the business areas coordinate their functions as they pursue change, the more agile the organization becomes.

In today’s business landscape of uncertainty, volatility and constant competitive pressures, readiness for organizational change is essential. If you’re slow and flat-footed, you’re already facing huge disadvantages against nimbler, more adaptable rivals. Successful organizations are ones that can learn, work in agile ways and access and leverage talent to meet ever-evolving market needs.

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