One of today’s most popular television shows is Fear the Walking Dead. The show is focused on a small group of people who fight to survive in a world that’s infected by a virus. This virus has killed all who were infected by it and caused the infected dead to come back to life as zombies. Since these zombies prey on the uninfected living people, any survivors are the target of every walking zombie. Add to that complicated hunt the challenge of surviving uninfected groups battling each other and you get a constant battle for resources and position.
Sometimes company environments can feel like this. There are groups that fight for positioning, influence and support. There are groups that fight to infect everyone with their negative and resistant attitude. Then there are groups that have a future-focused perspective who are just trying to survive the current day chaos. Companies go through transitions and changes. When those changes happen it will be up to HR to navigate that change in a way that reunites teams rather than divides them. How does HR manage change? By following these steps:
1. Identify the need for the change. Something happened or will happen that caused the need for change. Identify that need so that people understand why it is necessary.
2. Identify the process for change. Determine the options that were considered when determining how to handle the need for change. There are always pros and cons to every option, share some of those. Help people understand the due diligence that the individual or team went through before deciding on what needed to change and how.
3. Allow communication. People will always have questions, concerns and emotions related to change. Let them share those in a way that is productive and helpful in their transition. Allow them to go through stages of emotions about change. Invite employees and managers to smaller group meetings or one-on-one sessions to talk about things further. Many times questions will arise after the shock of a decision wears off. Lead them in their transition process to accept the new change.
4. Celebrate progress – both big and small. Highlight and celebrate the transitions. Give public praise to successful implementations or any employee or manager who adapts to the changes or helps others transition. Showing praise to the change adopters will help to shift the focus on those who are progressing and take the power away from those who are resisting.
5. Hold persistent resisters accountable. Some individuals can get fixated on resisting change. They can be so consumed with not wanting the change that they never give the new way a chance. Take time to address these attitudes one-on-one. Talk about their concerns. State your expectations and make clear what changes need to be seen moving forward. Don’t allow the infection to continue once the positive momentum starts.
HR is always in the midst of all change. They are the ones responsible for keeping the peace, motivating employees and holding accountable those who have taken their cause too far.
There will always be differing opinions on how things should be done. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is also a point where it’s time to commit or move on. It will be HR’s role to make sure that the right message is conveyed and that the wrong rebels don’t gain support among the good.