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The Case for HR to Lead Change Initiatives

Change is nearly constant, especially in a startup. As the Internet grows, opportunities that didn’t exist before emerge. However, this means companies need a way to sift through different labor pools to find the right candidates and manage organizational shifts. Because developing markets and new technologies threaten longstanding business models, firms have to be able to implement change management best practices to survive, Strategy+Business stated. While transitions are often a priority for top-level executives, it may make most sense for the human resources department to take the lead in change initiatives.

Why Change Can Be So Difficult to Understand
Organizational shifts may take the form of mergers, acquisitions, adopting new technology or bringing in new leadership, and each of these have different aspects that need to be managed. Change can provoke anxiety, which means leaders need to take a unified approach to major transitions and enable open communication to prevent employees from feeling overwhelmed or blindsided. Although many organizations recognize how important and prevalent change is in today’s business climate, many initiatives to manage major organizational transitions fail, according to TLNT.

These initiatives may not work because companies don’t have workers with the skills in place to create sustainable business transformations. In addition, some employees get overwhelmed when executives ask them to make too many substantial changes at one time, especially if change happens too fast or new processes are rolled out without enough preparation. Many change objectives fail because they start at the top and the C-suite rarely asks for input from people at other levels of the company.

Creating a path for change is a major challenge.Creating a path for change is a major challenge.

The most successful change management initiatives happen when organizations are able to actively engage their employees throughout the process. Transparent communications significantly improve change management and help the company stay on track. In addition, firms need to be mindful of the existing culture during business transformations. Transitions are a great deal more challenging when leaders try to change organizational culture. This is where the HR team comes in.

Why HR Is the Perfect Partner for Change
Great HR teams already have the skills to manage many of the aspects of major organizational shifts, especially in terms of how the changes will affect employees on an individual level. In addition, HR professionals are in the unique position to help executives with the process because HR has a more complete view of the organization.

Organizational changes will often require new behaviors from staff, and HR can educate employees on both the reasons for changes and their personal roles in making the transition happen. With HR’s level of oversight, this department can match performance management and training programs to the specific situations at hand. If these programs are aligned with the organization’s needs, HR can help determine potential challenges and opportunities, TLNT said. However, HR and executives need to team up to successfully implement major changes across an entire company.

How to Initiate Change
Organizational changes can be a hugely complex process and open communication is key. HR can serve the role of managing the impacts of change on employees and creating training programs to better handle and adapt to significant shifts. Although change management needs to start from the top, everyone should be involved to make the process as seamless as possible. For successful changes, the CEO needs partner with HR.

While CEOs, especially those in startups, are often great at enacting changes, they may not be able to implement them on their own. Even CEOs who are skilled planners may need some help with engaging multiple levels throughout the organization, according to Strategy+Business. Some executives get too focused on strategic business objectives and may avoid involving other layers of the hierarchy early in the process because they think the changes will happen more quickly with less engagement. Changes may get started faster with less involvement in the beginning, but this approach can contribute to serious problems down the road or even cause transformations to fail. Although wide involvement within the organization may take longer, it can be more effective. HR is often instrumental in spreading engagement. In addition, employees are often more invested in changes when they feel they had an active role in development.

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