There has been a lot of talk in the past few years about how fast the world is changing and how we need to be able to change with it. “We leave in a VUCA world, where everything is volatile, uncertain, complex and full of ambiguity”, they all say.

Changing at the same pace as the world around us is a challenge in itself, since our own nature’s first response to change is resistance. But, we do not have as much time as before to adapt to change, and we have learned that we need to be more flexible and react quicker.

How does this translate in the business world and who is responsible to facilitate the changes that are now inevitably more frequent, more complex and less clear? If we think about David Ulrich’s well-known HR model, we can agree that HR has a significant role, alongside the management, as the Change Agent in a company (the other three roles being HR Business Partner, Employee Champion and Administration Expert).

Sharing from our experience over the years, both as external consultants and working as part of an internal HR department, dealing with change is one of the most challenging tasks HR has. Challenging the status quo is always met with resistance, and HR is often seen as the department who wants to implement new ideas almost on a permanent basis.

So here are some tips that we have learned are helpful to use when facing a new change in your company:

  • Always expect resistance at first:

    • depending on how used to change your company is, this can be on the short term or on the long term

    • no matter how complex or simple the change is, do not feel discouraged if the first response is a No, at worst, or a Why, at best

  • Commitment of the management (and of the project team in charge) is mandatory:

    • the process is not a comfortable one, since the management needs to deal with the resistance and frustration of the people affected by the change

    • but they need to take responsibility for the change, and be consistent throughout the process, in order to ensure a successful change

  • Communication is key:

    • I do not refer only to a transparent and open communication, using all possible channels; I mean also communicating the same message, over and over again, using the same channels

    • displaying a notice on the boards from the production floor or sending an email to all employees is not enough - make a detailed and repetitive plan on how often and for how long you need to send the message

  • Keep the message simple and unchanged:

    • even if the change is complex, do your best to communicate it in a simple and easy to understand manner

    • use the same content and design to share the message, even when you use different channels

  • Patience is another important factor for success:

    • do not take personally the other’s refusal to accept the change immediately

    • every change takes time – be persistent and keep your confidence - depending on what you need to change, it can take years before you are completely successful

To sum up, the VUCA world in which we live rises a great need for us, HR Specialists, to put our skills to good use. It is our role to help in making change take place smoothly in our companies and we can do that by anticipating resistance, collaborating with the management, constantly communicating with employees and by having patience and confidence.

Paladia Petrar, HR Specialist with 14+ years of experience in Human Resources and Managing Partner with 8+ years of experience in IntegraHR, provides solutions for performance management, employee motivation and satisfaction, retention and many others. Paladia has worked with 30+ international and national companies, offering managers consultancy for creating and developing stable teams.

If you want to read more of the knowledge shared by Paladia, click here: Why the engagement of your employees is a key factor for the success of your business