Dream Big: Successfully Implement Your HCM Initiatives This Year
Project-based organizations often have autonomous teams with loose connections between projects. Managing organizations like this is unique and driving change even more so. Change is interesting in any industry, but when we add the complexity of multiple projects at various stages of the life cycle and project managers with varying levels of maturity and experience, it becomes another conversation entirely. Many of us who genuinely wish to lead the change initiatives that will help us deliver successful projects struggle with barriers, time and budget constraints, fear, and resistance. With that said, how do we move past these barriers in order to bring this full circle? Let’s start with understanding the current environment in which we operate.
Cultivating a Culture of Change
We are seeing a lot of modernization that has changed the employment landscape, specifically loyalty. This current state of affairs is something we are very familiar with, including but not limited to: remote work arrangements, flexible/contingent work, low unemployment rates, emerging technologies, generational differences, entitlement, lack of patience, and more. Additionally, like it or not, our organization’s leadership, processes, and culture are constantly under the microscope and now (more than ever) made public. All of these contributing factors make it more and more difficult to engage and retain talent, and necessitate significant constant change, organizational evolution, and agility in order to keep pace competitively. Proof that this is paramount comes from a recent CR Magazine survey which notes that 92% of employees would consider leaving for an employer with an excellent reputation.
Dream Big: Successfully Implement your HCM Initiatives This Year
Many of the aforementioned threats in today’s market that are causing heartburn for our organizations can be mitigated by focusing on employee experience. The entire employee experience consists of everything from impressions of our brand prior to acquisition, all the way through maintained contact post-off boarding. Understanding our weaknesses/challenges at various points in the life cycle presents significant opportunities for improvement. These opportunities that are exposed in our organizations can be solved many times with effective solutions such as: strategic/aligned goals, effective onboarding, workforce optimization, HCM solutions, and high user adoption.
So here you are, ready to affect change in your organization and solve many of the aforementioned issues. You know your organization’s struggles and you are ready to lead change. How do you go about this?
Selling Ideas to All Levels
First and foremost, it is critical to gain a thorough understanding of broken/missing processes and organizational challenges that necessitate solutions. The solutions that we choose must be well-thought out and tailored to our organization. They must truly solve problems, and not be just part of an “agenda” or preference. Start by attempting to understand these issues via a persona-based analysis. Break down your organization into segments, and challenge yourself to think about the typical concerns of each segment and what is important to them, such as:
- Senior Leadership
- Human Resources
For example, let’s say we are aware that there is a significant issue with a lack of learning and employee development. When we sell the idea to each segment, we need to ensure that our proposed solutions solve problems for employees at all levels/segments. Our solution(s) should resonate (albeit potentially in a different manner) with each group.
With the proposed example of a lack of learning and development in an organization as a defined problem, let’s take a look at how each segment may view the issue, so we can understand how to influence them individually be solving their pain.
If we decided, in this instance, that an LMS and formal learning function would mitigate our issues and drive significant success, we must be able to influence and sell the value of the LMS differently to each segment.
- Top concerns are project profitability, customer loyalty/success and employee productivity/engagement/retention
- Wants to pay for a product that is providing ROI and helps move the needle
- Today's employees want continuous development, and wish to avoid the stagnancy
- Learning is key to employees' engagement, retention, development and compliance
- Keep my employees compliant and up to date on necessary training, allowing them to remain on projects and contracts and increase billing
- Engage and retain my staff, reducing turnover
- Demonstrates that my manager/employer values my perspective, growth and development
- Provides me with opportunity to increase my skill set, my compensation and my agility from a career perspective
Selling the Change Process
We tend to focus on getting the solution or the process up and running, which we certainly need to, but user adoption is another thing entirely. It’s best to consider our plans to drive user adoption every step along the way, instead of as an afterthought. It will be important to build an effective plan, work through objections, and implement a phenomenal training process.
Adoption starts with buy-in. Although we typically hear/use the term “top down”, change really necessitates buy-in at all levels, hence the “by persona” approach. In order to help gain buy-in we should look for champions in our organization, manager peer influence, and lean on vocal employees to assist with the buy-in efforts.
We will face fear head on. Many times, people resist change due to their own fear. Here is an important point. Attempt to understand the emotion under the fear. That is what will allow you to break through.. At times we will face resistance and objections. We must anticipate and prepare for these objections and use influence to overcome them. As we work towards gaining high percentages of buy-in and eventually adoption, we must remember not to let 20% of nay-sayers ruin what 80% of the employee population is anxious to move forward with.
Finally, we need a thorough training and implementation plan. We can use assets such as click-throughs and screen capture videos to help train the variety of users. We should present a timeline, a transition process, how we will train, measure and follow-up on implementation and adoption.
In addition to all of the steps noted in the change process, we need to be aware of the following four common pitfalls:
- Avoid crash change: consider rolling change out to a location or department on a smaller scale, testing it, and then tweaking for broader/complete organizational implementation.
- Appetite for change: remember our organization’s appetite and that we will need to work hard to influence how we will solve each persona’s problems and at what pace
- Feedback: stay open to feedback throughout the process, as employees will want to know that their experience with the change will matter in terms of potential tweaks.
- Perfection paralysis: know and accept that it is ok to fail “a little”. Long-term success is the goal, and remember that there may be setbacks in our change process, no matter how well planned or intended. Take a deep breath, plan for success, and remember you are human.
At the end of the day, we need to ensure what we have implemented is solving the organization’s problems. If we planned appropriately, we noted what success would look like. We noted what success would look like at implementation, after ninety days, six months, one year, etc. Success can be measured in a variety of ways. We can measure user adoption rates, impact of new processes, organizational/employee performance, engagement and retention. Be certain to have defined statements as you begin your change initiative by stating “Success will look like X when we can say Y at point in time Z.” You will need many of these statements to account for milestones and successes during internal influence for gaining approval for change, during implementation, and post-implementation.
Summary & Call to Action
Cultivating change as an integral part of your culture will keep your workforce innovative and agile. Remember, before you can sell an idea, you need to understand the problem and thoroughly define the solution. You must focus on your workforce, their challenges at each persona level, and work to find and influence solutions that will work for all roles/levels. Once you do, you should present solutions with detail and influence, remembering that thorough planning, training, and success measurements are key. Finally, seek and realize the right ROI.
After reading this powerful article on how you can drive change in your organization, it is “gut check” time ensuring you do so. Ask yourself the following question:
“How do I intend to change my organization based on what I have learned today?”
About the Author
David Lee is currently a Product Manager for the post-hire modules within the Deltek Talent Management suite, Dave has oversight of Performance, Learning and Development/Succession. As a former Vice President of Human Resources, Dave possesses nearly twenty years of Human Resources expertise with significant focus in talent/employee development and employee relations. Dave is a DDI certified leadership trainer and possesses an MBA from Walden University as well as various HR certifications.
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