Challenges in a business can often be divided into two major categories: Systems challenges, and People challenges. Similarly, the same two concepts may be used to divide organizational change into two broad types. If ultimately, most systems challenges (or changes) can be traced to people challenges (changes), an interesting question must be considered: What part of a business is responsible for managing change?
Responsibility for Change
A suggestion is that if we are to be good at managing change, the responsibility must lie with Human Resources. Other areas of the company may mandate it (C-level individuals, stockholders, outside influences), and other areas of the business may claim ownership of it (Accounting, Purchasing, Engineering, Sales… you get the idea!). But, ultimately, HR gets to calm the troubled waters, bandage the wounded, and replace the departed, all in the interests of making it work for the benefit of the business.
In managing organizational change, careful planning is required to ensure buy-in, support, and commitment at every level. HR is uniquely equipped to accomplish these processes, without the barriers faced by line-of-supervision managers.
Another key responsibility of the agent is to reconcile and resolve inevitable conflicts between and among disparate (and sometimes desperate) points of view. The nature of change is to treat employees unequally, which may also be perceived as unfairly; the “softer side” of HR may allow mitigation and reduction of these negative perceptions for the people most impacted by the changes.
Being seen as your company’s primary resource for managing change may be an important part of the future of your HR department and its budget!
For HR professionals who want to know about this topic, you could read this blog post about thriving in uncertainty from the blog of Profiles Asia Pacific!