How HR and Finance Teams Can Best Manage Change

June 30, 2016 Zuman


Change is inevitable. It's constantly occurring, shaping companies in new and profound ways, and requiring HR and finance teams to be flexible and transparent partners to realize the greatest success.

However, this type of partnership isn't always the case. Lack of communication and teamwork are more likely to cause failure when implementing new initiatives, processes or strategies than any technical problem, according to the Ivey Business Journal. Increasingly, though, HR and finance departments are opening the lines of communication to share data, insights and more. So, how can they best manage company change?

1. Start by assessing knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs).
To successfully implement change, HR and finance departments need to ensure they have the KSAs to accomplish such a project. The Cornell HR Review suggests asking three questions to assess readiness: Do project managers have the skills necessary to shepherd the initiative? What are the KSAs required to realize success? What are the parameters in terms of time and resources to make this happen? However, once HR and finance have reviewed their status, it's also important to apply the same scrutiny to employees. This helps the management team understand the position the company is in and the type of training needed for success. They are then able to better communicate this to C-suite leaders.

2. Foster employee engagement.
For any change initiative to succeed, HR and finance need employees to be engaged in the process and outcome. Employee engagement starts with a company and project leaders, in this case HR and finance. A study from Towers Watson found leadership to be one of the top three drivers of employee engagement. Such leaders foster engagement by identifying opportunities to encourage dialogue among workers and incorporate them into the process. Additionally, they crystallize workers' roles and include those who are resistant to changes being made.

3. Keep it slow but steady.
A quick change is more likely to be plagued by problems both immediately and down the line than one that's been introduced methodically. ERE Media suggests implementing change in phases: preparing, managing and reinforcing. In the preparing for change period, HR and finance will define the change strategy, including the roles departments and individuals play. During the managing phase, the team focuses on execution and communication. Finally, once change has been implemented and is set, it's time to shift to reinforcing the change. This is a period for analysis and correction, ERE Media notes.

4. Communication is needed to survive.
Change fails when teams do not communicate with one another and with workers at large. Without transparency, full explanation of the company's goals, defining everyone's  roles and how change will be implemented, it's unlikely for HR and finance teams to realize the buy-in necessary to succeed. Further, this level of communication must also be fostered and prioritized by HR and finance leaders? They need to be one team, with the same set of goals and a shared strategy for accomplishing them.

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