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Evolving Role of Modern HR – Part 1
From HR Generalist to Change Partner: The Paradigm Shift in HR's Role

Traditionally, HR's role has been looked upon as workplace policy enforcers, employee liaisons and corporate communicators. However, the evolving corporate climate, the influence of technology and workplace analytics have reshaped the HR function demanding a different kind of HR leaders –The Change Management Partner.

So, what does it take to become a change management partner?
Change management partners look beyond statistics and organisation charts to facilitate transformation and meet business needs. While traditional HR activities can offer valuable support to boost the bottom line and enhance competitiveness, on its own, support activities do not change the behaviors that drive business performance. A commitment to change and mind-shift is required.

Organisations need to be attuned to employees' capabilities and know how to channel their talents to affect positive change. This means the right questions have to be asked to the management so that the organisation choices can be adjusted to drive optimal behaviours. It's not enough to ask the tough questions, though. The need of the hour is for us as HR to stand up, lead and encourages leaders to find the best answers to the right questions. It is the role of HR to help business leaders see the implications of their choices and consider how those choices may need to change.

When HR takes on the leadership role during this period of change, it is possible to gracefully navigate the challenges that come with such a situation – achieving both the organisation's goals and ensuring the team feels confident about the company's future direction.

Here are 3 steps for HR Leaders a.k.a Change Management Partners to consider when supporting companies and teams through a change process:

1. Align with Management:
Successfully supporting change management begins by understanding the vision. We should align our efforts with the management team and take a deep dive into the long-term vision of the company. It is essential that we understand why and what changes are occurring, the long – term goals and what the desired result is. This will help us as HR ensure that all communication is aligned to the company's bigger vision and we will be able to suggest new ways HR can help lead through change.

2. Prioritise Communication:
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying "change is the only constant in life." Similarly, change is a constant in every organisation and many professionals are accustomed to dealing with it. However, the ambiguity that is often associated with change can make it harder for people to navigate the process. We should take the time to establish lines of communication with employees at all levels in the organisation. We should also share information when we can about the changes that are occurring, how it will impact employees' day-to-day situations and the steps being taken to help ensure the changes are for the overall good. Making time to listen and identifying the issues that most concern the team is crucial. There are many times when employees may be worried about things that are not even on management's radar. By understanding what issues the team deems the most important, it is possible to quickly and effectively address them and gain the employee's buy in.

3. Assess readiness, risk and provide support where needed:
Understanding the organisation's readiness to change is an important part of designing a change management strategy. HR can lead the way in assessing change management readiness and identifying areas of risk that need special attention from executives. We can provide specialised support during the change process where it is needed and can craft a training program to help employees understand what the change process will entail, how they will be integrated into the new role. By investing this extra support where needed, much of the concern around the changes can be mitigated. I will cover how this can be done in more detail in my next blog.
Leading through change can be a challenging process. However, HR can play a critical role in bridging communication gaps between management and employees, ensuring information is shared in a timely and transparent way, identifying and addressing any specific concerns or risks before they potentially become long-term problems. By championing change, HR can help the organisation increase buy-in for change across departments, thereby increasing the success of change initiatives.

HR is uniquely positioned within organisations to play a significant role in change management and thus in modern times we see HR's roles evolving into Change Management Partners.

Evolving role of modern HR is a part of a 3-part series. The aim behind this series is to highlight the complexity of HR in today's time, given the increasing workplace demands, growing diversity, the economic turmoil and the constant change happening with organisations.

Stay tuned for the next two parts.


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