How HR can champion change

One expert discusses the biggest challenges when implementing change into a workforce, and the best ways to encourage employees to adopt it.

How HR can champion change
nge 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?

HC spoke to Arlene Wherrett, managing director, Asia Pacific at Bluewolf, about the challenges involved in implementing change.

Communication is key

According to Wherrett, 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 Wherrett 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 State of the Salesforce 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,” Wherrett told HC. “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,” Wherrett 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,” Wherrett 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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