I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m going to London for Tucana’s HR Change & Transformation conference on October 13-14, 2015. The theme this year is HR innovation for competitive advantage. I’m very excited about attending and being a part of this conversation. Some of the sessions are focused on agile HR, salesforce transformation and labor forecasting – topics I don’t typically see on a human resources conference agenda. It’s very refreshing.
In mentioning my upcoming trip to a colleague, I received an interesting reply.
Good luck! Not to be a downer, but unless the CEO supports HR, you can throw change and transformation out the window.
I totally agree. Change is futile if it’s not supported within the organization. A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. John Kotter about creating organizational change. If you haven’t seen the interview, you can check it out here. Getting support for any change effort is important and essential for success.
But I want to add a couple of things I’ve learned over the years about getting organizational support:
First, I’ve never met a CEO that wasn’t willing to listen to an idea that would improve the bottom-line. When we talk about initiating change, does the idea improve the bottom-line? And if so, how?
Second, when we talk about creating change and needing support to make change happen, we have to pitch those ideas in terms that everyone understands. Bottom-line results? Everyone understands.
I think I’ve mentioned this story before but it fits so well here. In one of my first HR jobs, I would attend a weekly manager meeting. During the meeting, we would go around the table and discuss the projects we were working on and the resources we needed from the organization. Every week, I would watch other managers talk about their projects and get the resources they asked for. When it came my turn, I would explain my project and the resources I needed. Sometimes I would get the support I was looking for but most of the time I didn’t. It was frustrating (to put it mildly.)
So I decided that I needed to figure out what I was doing wrong. In thinking about what the other managers did, I realized that they talked about their projects in terms of bottom-line results. They used metrics and numbers and return on investment. When I talked about projects, I expressed results in terms of what would make the employees feel good.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Senior management does care about employees and their engagement with the organization. But I found that, when I was able to talk about what the employees want in numerical form, I was able to get project and resources approved. That’s why human resources professionals need to:
Understand the key industry metrics for your organization. Every industry has them. They are the metrics that set your organization apart from the competition.
Learn how to calculate internal metrics. One of the must-haves on my business book shelf is “How to Measure Human Resource Management” by Jac Fitz-enz. Don’t know how to calculate something? This book will show you.
Keep current with external business trends. Indicators such as unemployment rates, demographics, etc. factor into everyday business decisions. Find good sources for business data and read them regularly.
Convincing the CEO and senior management to embrace change doesn’t have to be hard. It does take staying on top of business trends, which we should be doing anyway. And it takes communicating the change in a way that everyone understands, the language of bottom-line results.
Oh, and P.S. If you’re going to be at Tucana’s HR Change and Transformation next month, let me know! It would be great to connect in person. Still need to register? Use the code CT1502 to receive a ₤150 discount.0