HUB International CHRO: managing change with minimal disruption

As the HR chief of a preeminent global organization with over 300 successful acquisitions, Deborah Deters explains how HR can bring about integrative triumph.

HUB International CHRO: managing change with minimal disruption
Many studies indicate that approximately 70% of change initiatives end in failure, oftentimes because, as the Harvard Business Review states, “…the managerial capacity to implement it has been woefully underdeveloped.”
HUB International, however, has enjoyed over 300 successful business acquisitions since 1998, and appears to be continuing that trend into the future. Much of this success is due to HR.
As a starting point, HUB International provides acquiring employees with the same onboarding process as it does conventional new hires. This orientation provides a thorough introduction to company leadership, the employee experience, and benefits offered.
In addition, the brokerage has found that communicating to workers how the merger will make their jobs easier is essential to gaining support and encouraging assimilation.
“We make sure to create dialogue across offices and share with employees what additional resources HUB brings to the table,” said CHRO Deborah Deters. “We typically find that what employees care most about is what they can do for the customer. If they see that our resources will help them and their clients, we find that the transition goes very, very well.” 
HUB also cascades this message down to the individual level by targeting “internal champions” who can leverage their social influence to facilitate buy-in from other employees.
“These are the on-site communicators; the ones everyone goes to for information,” said Deters. “If you can identify and tap into those people, get them buying in and believing in it, that goes a long way in championing the change management piece of it.”
In addition, other steps that HR should take preceding a cultural transition include:
  • Creating a communication plan that demonstrates the business deal’s value to internal and external stakeholders
  • Encourage employees to remain focused on shared objectives and provide resources for individuals who fear future obstacles that may never actually materialize
  • Empower the transition team to be visible agents of collaboration, and rally others to follow suit
  • Celebrate successes
Although many organizations are tempted to overlook culture during transitional phases, doing so may result in certain death.
“If there’s a huge gap between what made a target company successful in how they operate and what makes the buyer successful along the same dimensions, it may look good independently, but it’ll probably be a train wreck when put together,” said Chuck Moritt, corporate M&A consulting leader, Mercer.
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