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6 Questions to Make Sure You’re a Change Driver, Not a Passenger

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in Employment Law,Firing,FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Meeting Management,Office Management

Issue: How to play a key role in shaping changes in your organization.

Benefit: You can better anticipate future HR needs and position yourself as a "thinker" not just a "doer," which raises your career profile.

Action: Use these six questions to determine ways to involve yourself in upcoming changes.


When the organization excludes HR professionals from planning, bad things can happen: 

  • You can be surprised by terminations, employee departures, absenteeism and other common aftereffects of change. 
  • If you take too long to adapt (after all, you were caught by surprise), you look like a change-resister. 
  • You end up scrambling to meet sudden, unexpected demands from above, which makes you look bad and hurts your career. 

For those reasons, it's vital to become involved in widespread change as early in the game as possible. That way, you can more effectively help your organization anticipate the change's impact on HR and employees. And you'll do less "mopping up" later. Two strategies:

  1. Become a change agent. The more effectively you update and innovate the HR function in your organization, the more you become integrated into the wider processes of organizational change.
  2. Attack procedures and policies that aren't working. Then, meet with your execs to discuss your plans. This is a more effective way to include yourself in planning than to complain that, "They always think of HR last."

Plant yourself in the path of change. If leaders view HR as an afterthought, show why you need to be included in planning.

A good first step: When faced with a major change at your organization, complete an HR Change Work Sheet. It can help you sort out how the change will affect HR, and it helps make your case for why you're needed in early planning. Plus, it shows your ability as a key part of the strategy team.

'HR Change Work Sheet'

First, list all the major change initiatives taking place in your organization. Then, answer the following six questions about each one. Here's how your HR Change Work Sheet might look if your organization is opening a new office in another state:

1. What change is planned?

My organization is opening a new, fully staffed branch office in an adjacent state.

2. How will this change affect HR?

All HR functions relating to the new office will be handled here in headquarters. Some current employees will relocate to the new office, but new hires must be made, particularly support staff.

3. What is the organizationwide timetable for this change?

Upper management has yet to tell me. I believe we're hoping to have the new office open in about nine months.

4. What are the main tasks HR will have to handle?

Determine which current staff members will be relocating. Hire new staff accordingly for both this location and the new one. Create and implement remote systems to handle filing, job reviews, complaints and other HR functions. Meet with IT to address file-sharing and other communications needs. Review employment law in the new state to identify potential issues that need to be addressed.

5. What should the HR timetable be for the change?

Immediately. I need a firm start date from management and then create a master schedule for all the tasks described in question No. 4.

6. What is my integration strategy to become involved in planning the change?

I will flesh out the main tasks described in No. 4 and write a memo to our president so that he will be aware of the immediate need to integrate HR into the planning process.

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