HR Leads Business

Aug 26, 2016 | Barry Lawrence, HRCI Staff Writer

HR Must Lead Change and Value Creation

HR Must Lead Change. It’s no longer debatable. To become better business partners, human resource management leaders must shed their tactical skins and transform into value-creating change agents.

Corporate leaders understand that change management can no longer focus exclusively on operational improvements, cost efficiencies or process reengineering, notes Holly Burkett, Ph.D., SPHR, CPT, principal of Evaluation Works and a contributor to The Rise of HR, a compilation of HR thought leadership sponsored by the HR Certification Institute® (HRCI®). (The e-book is available for free download.)

"The complexities of perpetual change are an interwoven part of every organization’s DNA," Burkett says. "Change capability plays into everything that leaders, HR professionals and employees do every day, regardless of hierarchy or rank."

The Human Elements

In addition to paying attention to the structural and cultural elements of change, Burkett believes that the "human elements are at the heart of successful change and are often the most challenging to manage." She notes that HR must recognize that:

  • Motivation increases when individuals are confident they can meet change expectations.
  • Resistance may be more related to performance anxiety than negative attitudes.
  • Change expectations should allow for a learning curve after change is introduced.
  • Additional resource support provided right after a change can minimize performance declines and ramp up proficiency.
  • The more individuals are involved in the process, the more engaged they will be.
  • Change volatility saps motivation, erodes confidence and depletes any reservoir of goodwill.

"Managing change and organizational transformation is clearly a universal trend and a critical challenge for HR," Burkett says. She adds that HR must become better change leaders and, at the same time, help leaders and managers gain confidence as change leaders.

The Road to Creation

Loren Murfield, Ph.D., a leadership consultant and CEO of PWR University, tells HR Certification Institute (HRCI) that leading change is not only critical but also more complex in what he calls a 3-D economy built on sharing and connecting. He explains that businesses previously operated in a 2-D world where "thinkers" told the "doers" what to do.

"Today that doesn’t work.  Instead we are both doers and thinker and, even more importantly, also creators," Murfield says. "It’s critical for businesses and for HR to understand that organizations need more out of leaders and their teams. Obedience isn’t completely dead but it is overshadowed by the opportunity to create."

For the effective leadership of change in the 3-D world, Murfield urges HR professionals to emphasize:

  • Connections made by sharing, and then collaborating. Manipulation is no longer effective.
  • Transparency. Keeping a secret is nearly impossible in the connected world.
  • Innovation over replication. The internet now exposes organizations that merely replicate.
  • Increased speed of change by ensuring all followers become leaders.

"Organizations have become lean and mean, focused to maximize every individual’s ability to sense and seize opportunities," says Murfield, who has provided continuing education activities for HRCI-certified professionals and also written a white paper on how to better exercise leadership power. "Old bureaucratic models are too cumbersome and deliver decisions too slowly. Instead, what powers the 3-D world is nimble organizations where everyone is a leader."

To lead change, the HR profession must stretch beyond traditional comfort zones. It will mean embracing a new kind of HR leadership power, as Murfield claims, that is built on passion, vision and openness to new possibilities. At the same time, HR must help the entire organization embrace these same values, as change agents and creators.

Never before have so many opportunities for change been in the hands of HR leaders.