HR professionals must think of themselves as change agents.

Perhaps no role is shifting faster than the HR professional. If the pandemic showed us anything, it was that the employee experience is essential to survival. HR is not only helping navigate choppy post-pandemic waters, but also evolving into a true strategic partner.

This is not just about external catalysts or inclusion in strategic decisions. It’s about mindset. HR professionals must start thinking of themselves as change agents.

For example, a global company wanted to launch a development program to change the behaviors of its leaders, world-wide. Other initiatives like this had flopped, but this one was a smashing success. Why? In part, it was because HR itself made some significant behavior changes of its own.

  1. From understanding business needs to forecasting them.

Having ears to the ground, HR could see early on that the business model was shifting from individual contribution to team performance. Soon, leaders would have to work with multiple global cross-functional project teams and get them to collaborate quickly to drive business outcomes. Because HR anticipated this need, the program was not merely a reaction to a problem; it was a proactive solution.

How they did it:  HR claimed a “seat at the table” and participated in business decisions. They held regular meetings with employees and managers and asked the right questions. They also conducted frequent pulse surveys to gauge the mood of the employee base and respond.

  1. From tracking metrics to owning Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

The HR team committed to employee engagement (a company KPI) instead of focusing on tactical metrics like total training hours or training feedback scores.

How they did it: They kept organizational goals front-and-center during every conversation and work session. They brainstormed with their internal clients to identify the right HR success metrics to achieve employee engagement and to drive the desired employee behaviors. For example, training didn’t end in the classroom but was followed by simulations and mentoring to ensure that the learning stuck and leaders managed their teams optimally.

  1. From understanding diversity to fostering inclusion.

Even though corporate headquarters was in the U.S., the move to team performance was global. HR knew many typical elements of training and communication didn’t resonate globally, so they paid special attention to that.

How they did it: HR crunched the numbers to identify real data on diversity. Then, they used the quantitative results to make the program culturally inclusive. For example, they knew that employees in other countries might be alienated if the company continued to use U.S. baseball metaphors. So they asked their geo stakeholders to share their stories and metaphors, then applied the lens of local culture to all experiences.

  1. From following HR trends to focusing and executing the most relevant trends.

The HR team had a good sense of multi-generational workplace and digital revolution, but they decided to thoroughly examine how these trends impacted the company and how best to manage them.

How they did it: HR read the research and reached out to networks and business stakeholders to get their input. They investigated trends and analyzed impacts. These findings guided all relevant HR actions. They made sure the communications, training, and tools they rolled out resonated with the target audiences. For example, they used the latest technology platform to engage digitally savvy millennials who were primed to be future leaders.

As HR became more involved with company strategy and their stakeholders, they better understood their pivotal role in all organizational change. HR is responsible for promoting employee behavior change. That starts with changing their own behaviors.



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