When you think about your role as a HR practitioner, your HR team or your overall HR function, how would you describe the way you operate: is it transactional or is it transformational?
HR is typically bogged down in the ‘transactional’—meaning we’re focused too much on administrative tasks that add little value but take up a huge chunk of time, stopping us from influencing organisational change.
But how exactly can HR fully engage with the change process when we’re in a world that’s more complex and unpredictable than ever? Redefining the norm isn’t easy, and change, whether organisational or departmental, doesn’t happen overnight.
We’re going to dive into those details, following our recent masterclass with Professor Julie Hodges and Mark Crabtree, co-authors of Reshaping HR: The Role of HR in Organizational Change.
So whether you’re looking to alter the perception of your HR team to a more value-adding function, or you’re looking to make sure that people issues take priority in transformational change, you’re in the right place!
Reshaping HR: The Role of HR in Organizational Change
Based on findings from a global research project, “Reshaping HR” offers real empirical evidence on what HR needs to do to a) become a catalyst for transformational change, b) challenge the status quo, and c) create real value during the change process.
So what exactly do we mean by transformational? Right now, most HR practices act as support functions that assist organisational change, rather than taking a leading role. But a transformational HR function is more strategic and value-adding, enabling the change process to be more focused on people and culture than systems and processes.
Julie and Mark’s research offers up a practical approach to help us achieve exactly that, based on feedback and interviews from over 500 HR and non-HR managers, spanning 30 different countries and 20 different industries.
Page 195, Reshaping HR: The Role of HR in Organisational Change; Julie Hodges and Mark Crabtree; Routledge 2021
HR’s barriers to organisational change
Clearly, there’s work to be done to help HR as a function overcome the challenges that stop us from influencing and leading transformational change. There are a lot of barriers, sure, but four key challenges popped up time and again in Julie and Mark’s surveys and interviews:
1. Being transformational
80% of participants said HR is operating in a transactional space; HR is generally reactive rather than proactive and they support change mainly during its implementation rather than being involved in strategic planning. Yet, 75% said that HR needs to be transformational.
The challenge: how do we reduce transactional work, giving us time to shake up the status quo and overcome the barriers to becoming transformational?
2. Being relevant
65% of participants said that a big challenge is HR being relevant; HR needs to be much more focused on strategic issues within the organisation, and much more focused on facilitating and leading change.
The challenge: how can HR build more credibility and provide a more consultative approach to organisational change?
3. Becoming stakeholder-centric
Change needs to be co-created and people-centric, and so HR, as a people function, needs to sit in the driving seat (or the front passenger seat, at least!). So HR needs to engage internal and external stakeholders to be better equipped for organisational change.
The challenge: how you can align HR with multiple stakeholders and connect with the broader environment your organisation operates in?
4. Becoming a value creator
Another challenge widely identified is how HR can become more strategic and value-adding, taking their people knowledge and using it to become a thought leader in the change process.
The challenge: how can HR shift the function to one that challenges views and provides innovative ideas while being creative and bold?
So… how can HR become a catalyst for transformational change?
While reducing the time spent on time-consuming, administrative tasks that add little extra value may seem like the easy first step—which is becoming easier with HR tech and automation tools—the real answers to the above challenges and questions lie in the capabilities, skills, knowledge, and attitudes of HR practitioners and teams.
But before we can really start shifting from transactional to transformational, we need to understand where we are now and versus where we need to be to drive transformational change and add value. In their research, Julie and Mark discovered the key capabilities that HR are looking to improve during their organisational change journey:
Reshaping HR: The Role of HR in Organisational Change; Julie Hodges and Mark Crabtree; Routledge 2021
And to make things a little easier, Julie and Mark used their research to create a model that highlights the capabilities that HR functions need, now and in the future, to make that shift to a transformational role.
The model, called “HR Capabilities for Organizational Change”, covers seven key skills and capabilities needed in HR, and will get you thinking about two key questions:
- What are the capabilities of your HR team today?
- What do they need to be in the future?
We’ve rounded up the model, some extra background information and the worksheet into a handy PDF for you to download—including a 20% discount code for Julie and Mark’s book. The worksheet will enable you to identify what capabilities your team have right now and where they need to develop in order to become truly transformational; so make sure to grab your copy and get thinking!
HR Capabilities for Organizational Change
Free E-book & Worksheet
Remember that we’re only scratching the surface; HR is constantly evolving. Think back to the days when HR was Personnel. Now, we’re moving into the likes of People and Culture, and other processes that put people at the centre of the organisation. HR has been on quite a journey and it certainly isn’t slowing down any time soon.
So, If you’re looking to dive into the details of Julie and Mark’s book, discover more of the key research outcomes and learn how to create a HR function that fully engages in the organisational change process, grab your copy of the worksheet above and use your 20% discount code!
Wondering how ready your organisation is for transformational change? Our handy quiz will give you a free, personalised assessment so you can discover how to improve your readiness for change!
So let’s get started
Organisational Readiness Assessment Quiz
Take our detailed quiz for a free personalised assessment and discover how you can improve your readiness for change.
And while you’re here, make sure to check out our 3-part video series covering the key stages of creating readiness for organisational change, covering:
- Defining your culture and employee experience
- Shifting stakeholder mindset and behaviours
- Creating a survey strategy for success.