A successful process of HR transformation involves the right people at the right time in the right way. The importance of involvement in successful change management is well established. We know from decades of social-psychological research that people are more likely to be committed to activities or decisions in which they are involved. This is particularly important in the case of HR leaders and professionals engaged in transformation.
Four groups of stakeholders should be involved with the HR transformation are:
- HR leaders and professionals: Design the process and work to implement the transformation.
- Line managers: Make sure the transformation aligns to business goals and work with HR to implement the transformation.
- External customers and investors: Guide the HR transformation for relevance.
- Consultants and advisers: Offer frameworks and insights developed by others, and point out potholes that others have stumbled into.
Let’s look at all these stakeholders in detail and see how we can share accountability of our HR Transformation with each of them.
Table of Contents
- HR Leaders and Professionals
1.1. Chief HR Officer (CHRO)
1.2. HR Leadership Team
1.3. HR for HR
1.4. HR Professionals
- Line Managers
- External Customers and Investors
- The Role of Customers in HR Transformation
4.1. Collect Customer Insights and Information
4.2. Recognize Moments of Truth and TouchPoints
4.3. Sustain Customer Experience with HR Practices
- The Role of Investors in HR Transformation
5.1. Collect Investor Insights and Information
5.2. Recognize Investor Moments of Truth
5.3. Sustain Investor Confidence with HR Practices
- Consultants and Advisers
6.1. Assessing the Need for Transformation
6.2. Setting Goals
6.3. Planning for Implementation
6.4. Evaluating the Effectiveness of Transformation
Ultimately, HR transformation depends on the quality of HR professionals and their relationships with line managers. If they cannot respond to the increased expectations raised by transformation, they will quickly lose credibility and be relegated to second-tier status. Four roles are important to this process: the chief HR officer (CHRO), the HR leadership team, the head of HR for HR, and HR professionals.
The leader of any organization sets the direction and tone for that organization. The leader of any organization sets the direction and tone for that organization.
The CHRO should initiate, take the lead in the design, and monitor the transformation plan, making sure that this plan starts with business context; defines deliverables and outcomes; specifies changes for the HR department, practices, and people; and implements changes. Finally, the CHRO should ensure that robust measurements are in place to credibly and accurately monitor progress.
Those who built an HR agenda are less likely to be willing to undo and transform it. While a new external CHRO may bring new views and vitality to an HR transformation, however, an outsider also has to work hard to understand and build on earlier work.
Most HR heads construct a leadership team. Usually, the team consists of the HR leaders for businesses or key geographic units, the heads of centers for expertise, and the shared services or transactional HR leader. This team may be called the leadership team, the steering committee, the HR cabinet, or something similar.
In many large companies, the champions of the HR transformation are the individuals charged with providing HR services for HR professionals. These individuals are generally seasoned HR professionals who have worked in increasingly responsible HR positions in both businesses units and centers of expertise.
As the head of the HR transformation team, they draft the HR transformation plan and make sure that milestones are in place to make and monitor progress. They help contract for technology to deliver administrative processes efficiently.
They take the lead in investing in HR development experiences and training. They are actively involved in the succession planning process and promotions to key HR positions throughout the company.
HR professionals who embrace transformation recognize that their personal success is linked to that of the HR transformation. This means letting go of past behaviors, learning new roles, practicing new activities, and mastering key competencies. Letting go of the past means realizing that, as Marshall Goldsmith says, “What got you here won’t get you there.”
It is important to identify the innovators and sponsor them, support them, and broadcast to others what they are doing. An equal proportion is laggards who can not let go of the past and will never make the transformation.
The largest group of HR professionals are probably in the middle of the pack: willing to consider the transformation but not sure how it affects them or how to make it happen.
Line managers are ultimately accountable for ensuring that the organization has the right talent and right organization in place to deliver on expectations to customers, shareholders, and communities.
They have the responsibility to provide a clear business focus for the transformation, to ensure that the transformation team has access to both external and internal information, to ensure that the right people are involved in the transformation process, and to require clear and measurable results from the transformation.
The term line manager refers to leaders at all levels of the organization. Members of the Board of Directors should be informed about the rationale for and outcomes of the HR transformation.
The following are tips HR professionals can use as they engage line managers throughout the organization in the HR transformation:
- Show what the transformation will mean to the bottom line and to the individual manager – The most powerful case for transformation starts with the bottom-line impact of transformation: how a change in HR focus, priorities, and delivery will increase the organization’s ability to meet customer and investor expectations.
- Involve line managers as members of the transformation task force and make them part of the process – Without their involvement, you will gain neither their commitment nor their insights. And without their engagement, you won’t get their best contributions. The more the key line managers are involved, the more ownership they are likely to feel.
- Build relationships of trust by being a credible activist – Trust grows in difficult situations. When things are especially tough, building unity becomes an even more important agenda. It is at such times that it is especially important to turn to each other for support, synergy, and focus and to resolve problems in rocky relationships.
- Be a coach who asks good questions – Managers have to undergo public scrutiny because they are responsible for results. Sometimes they tend to retreat and become insular or isolated. One of the great levers we have in HR is to serve as coaches, on both the business and personal side of life.
- Helpline managers resolve common misconceptions about HR – Often line managers have had negative experiences with an HR practice (perhaps they weren’t paid as they felt they should be, or they were kept out of a training program they felt they should attend, or they were passed over for an assignment they wanted) or with an HR professional.
Often HR transformation comes from and is driven by the internal logic. Frequently logic, language, and practices of human resources focus on employees’ needs. irrelevant. Organizations exist not to fulfill their own purposes but to fulfill the purposes for which society allows them to exist.
Customers, investors, and consultants can bring important external perspectives to the HR transformation process. The clear understanding of business realities so essential for real HR transformation is generally rooted in the expectations and experiences of customers and investors.
The customer voice is central to a truly strategic HR transformation and may be involved in HR transformation in a number of ways. Customer information may be accessed directly via relationships HR leaders build with customers or indirectly through internal surrogates for the voice of the customer such as sales or marketing.
When HR practices are redesigned, they should align to ensure consistency with customer expectations. Customers can also be directly and actively involved in HR transformation, for example, by having HR professionals visit them to find out what organizational capabilities and leadership competencies they expect from the company.
When seeking to transform HR based on the voice of the customer, HR professionals must have information and insights about the customers. The first insight focuses on who the customers are. The second insight that
HR professionals must understand is the customers’ buying criteria: why they buy from one source and not from another. HR professionals should know the customer as well as the salespeople do because while sales offer product or solutions to a customer, HR establishes the individual talent and organizational capabilities that create products, services, and relationships that meet customers’ long-term expectations.
Along with all employees in an organization, HR professionals must understand the business’s moments of truth or critical touchpoints. P&G identified two key moments of truth: one when the consumer picks the P&G product from the shelf in a store, and the other when the consumer uses and develops an opinion about the product.
HR can play a key role in managing and evaluating the customer experience. Working with sales, marketing, quality, and other functions, HR can support focus groups, customer service evaluations, and other data-gathering activities.
Using customer information they have gathered, HR leaders must make changes in staffing, training, communication, rewards, and recognition, organizational structure, and leadership that sustains a customer connection.
HR leaders can also broker opportunities for their professionals to have regular face-to-face interaction with customers. As a function, HR has core capabilities that can and ought to be used to deliver value for customers.
When an HR transformation is effective, investors have more confidence in future earnings because the capabilities that result from the transformation should help ensure sustainable business success.
HR can bring the logic and values of investors into the HR transformation work. Investors factor in the HR transformation as HR departments align their practices with the requirements of the investment community.
HR professionals should know who their firm targets as its key investors and why they invest. For publicly traded firms, this generally means major investors and analysts who follow their industry. HR professionals should know who the relevant investors are and how they evaluate your organization’s success.
HR professionals should be aware of investor contact points. This might include regular investor phone calls, meetings, or data. HR professionals can help deliver value by making sure these investor encounters convey information about organizational capabilities.
As you design your HR practices with regard to people, performance, information, and work, make sure they pass an investor filter.
Here are some hints in retaining consultants for the HR transformation:
- Contract clearly and specifically for the outcomes of the engagement.
- Verify that your consultants are educated in the key business challenges that confront your company.
- Confirm that the consultant has a clear, proven point of view with expertise in the content.
- Make sure the consulting firm will adapt its ideas, not require you to adopt them verbatim.
- Transfer knowledge to your team.
- Spend a day with consultants, talking about how their most successful client companies have approached transformation.
- Engage them to assist in designing the assessment process and training internal staff to conduct the assessment.
- Use consultants to facilitate the goal-setting process for transformation.
- Involve them in providing insight into ways other companies have gone about setting goals for transformation; essentially, ask them to help you test whether your transformation plans are ambitious enough or too ambitious.
- Invite the consultants to identify potential obstacles and potholes they have seen hinder the transformation efforts of other companies.
- Discuss ways of gaining stakeholder involvement and support.
- Ask the consultants to help develop the implementation plan and time table.
- Engage the consultants to assist, facilitate, or lead the evaluation process and to provide an objective point of reference.
An HR transformation team should include representatives of the four groups we define in this chapter: HR leaders, line managers, customers, and investors, and consultants.
It should be sponsored by the CHRO, who should accept accountability for the design and delivery of the HR transformation. It is often chaired by the head of HR for HR and staffed with HR representatives from business units and centers of expertise, line managers from a mix of businesses including a member of the C-suite, an outside adviser, and representatives of customers and investors.
DAVE ULRICH, JUSTIN ALLEN, WAYNE BROCKBANK, JON YOUNGER MARK NYMAN
- Introduction to HR Transformation — Chapter 1
- Why do HR Transformation? – Chapter 2
- What are the Outcomes of HR Transformation? – Chapter 3
- Redesigning the HR Department – Chapter 4
- How to do HR Transformation – Chapter 5
- Upgrade HR Professionals – Chapter 6
- Sharing Accountability for HR Transformation – Chapter 7
- Making HR Transformation a Success – Chapter 8