Human Resources as a Company’s Change Agent


According to consultant Brad Power, human resources can and should be an integral part of the change and improvement at a company. Power lists a number of ways that human resources can do this.

One important way that a company’s human resources department can drive change is through the hiring process, making it clear to those being recruited that the company values new perspectives and fresh ideas and that you want to include them in the change process. As you bring them on board, you can orient them to the changes that are taking place. A training program can incorporate improvement strategies as well for new employees.

Also, human resources can contribute to change by spearheading recognition of those who become change agents in the company. A company’s human resources department can develop retraining processes to move people freed up by process improvements into new assignments.

With regard to finding the right people, a firm’s HR professionals can help company leadership accurately describe what job requirements are and then effectively assess the skills of employees/applicants –  then match the two.

Human resources departments also can help change by developing rewards that match with the new ways of doing things. For example, at a health insurance company a manager who oversees the way the company works with healthcare providers developed a new structure that was guided by medical specialties, such as obstetrics and gynecology. By doing this, workers would work in a specialty and be more knowledgeable about what they were dealing with. The firm’s human resources professionals needed to provide help in figuring out how to link rewards to the new performance model.

Human resources also can be effective in developing programs to help improve managers’ skills at making change in an organization. At one railroad company, for example, the human resources department set up a process excellence group to help improvement and change at the company. This group takes selected managers and puts them through a program that lasts more than a year to train them in new skills.

Maintaining improvement and change at companies comes down to the people who work there, Power says. So it is easy to see how processes in human resources can retard improvement, or help to accelerate it, depending on how HR responds to the situation.

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