It is ultimately up the management to control and lead a strategic change in the workplace, if the management lack the skills to direct and create trust between their employees then the implementation of change is likely to cause unnecessary problems. Kotter (1996) identifies eight typical mistakes made by managers when leading change which relate to the leadership and cultural aspects of change in the workplace, he identified the problems as a lack of vision, under-communicating and not anchoring changes in the corporation’s culture, Hamlin et al (2001) p.25
This section of the essay will look at how the previous problems mentioned can be solved using HR policies. Being that HR is a relatively new concept, it takes time for HR to establish it’s place in the workplace and therefore is constantly growing, Turner (2002) p. 5 suggests two reasons in why HR is evolving, firstly that senior manager increasingly see people critical to a competitive advantage and as the supply is there HR should excel at strategy and planning. Butler et al (1991) p.2 suggests that there is an “increased appreciation of how HRM policies can be used to bring both profit and an enhanced competitive position to the firm”
It is clear that the role of the HR in strategic change is a growing trend. “Understanding the culture of an organisation is a prerequisite to managing any sort of change” Turner (2002) p. 124 to assess the organisations culture HR could conduct surveys, interviews and analyse the structure to help identify the culture.
“Employment involvement strategies have been used by organisations on their attempts to develop a unitary workforce… employee involvement may be used as a means to reduce union influence or to replace the role of unions in managing employee relations” Thornhill et al (2000) p. 228 it is vital that for unionised organisations that there is as little input from the unions as possible as they can slow down the change process and implement collective bargaining which creates excess costs.
Being involved in the change process allows employees to have an idea of how the change will affect them individually. “The implication of the resistance problem is the need to motivate changes in behaviour by individuals” Mabey et al (1993) p. 91. Employee involvement can be implemented through soft and hard HR depending on the culture of the organisation.
“The “soft” model of HRM recognizes the need to integrate HR policies with business objectives through treating employees as valued assets which can bring an organization competitive advantage through commitment, adaptability, high-quality skills and performance. ” In soft HRM, management are concerned with developing the skills of employees and would be concerned with motivating and communicating in the process of change, where as “The “hard” model of HR emphasizes the importance of closely integrating HR policies, systems and activities with business strategy.
From this perspective, the human resource is seen as an object of manpower planning and a factor of production” Farqunarson et al (2002) the hard model concentrates on the resources available, so in the motion of change, management would be concerned with getting the right people to limit the costs, this form if HR is favourable for short term goals but the lack of concern for the human factor can cause problems for long term goals, so, for a change in the workplace as employees can cause the most disruption it’s better to look at integrating the soft model.
In the change process human resources can be seen as acting as change agents Lewis et al (2006) p. 118 claim that there are “three themes describing what change agents do: promote communication and participation, facilitate the process for change, and create a vision” the first criteria for change agents involves communication and this can be achieved through consultations which can take place on a one to one setting or collectively with employees, questionnaires and focus groups.
Change agents have to guide the change process as smooth as possible and this can be achieved by “guiding specific steps in the change process or by delegating responsibility to oversee that element to another individual. ” Lewis et al (2006) p. 125 one way for change agents to guide management is to look at outsourcing managers or giving the management off the job training. “Reward has to be seen as strategic component of HR as well as a tactical solution to short – term ” Turner (2002) p.230 Implementing a reward scheme into managing change provides an incentive for employees to participate with the change and also cements the ‘psychological contract’ between the managers and employees.
By rewarding people for a desired behaviour it will motivate employees to act and behave that way, HR need to identify what type of reward would their employees value for example intrinsic/extrinsic or formal/informal, introducing performance related pay would mean that employees would feel inclined to keep up with working at the required level even though the change process.
Although Mabey et al (1993) p. 83 notes that “The most frequent problem is that organizations expect individuals to behave in certain ways while rewarding them for other conflicting behaviours” if this were to happen then strategic reward could do more harm than good. “Training and education efforts play a key role in transforming an organization’s practices. Training is an integral, complementary component of change and growth” Hamlin et al (2001) p.28
It is ultimately up to the HR department to recruit and train employees therefore in the process of strategic change HR can shape the organisation through the people they recruit and the type of training they implement “organisational responses to change and specific human resource interventions place new demands on recruitment and selection”
Thornhill et al (2001) p.111 the demands on HR will be to screen applicants more thoroughly to be confident that the applicant would suit the organisation in it’s changing process therefore employees who are set in their ways and are not adaptable and flexible would not be suited to a changing organisation “Selecting employees who will support the culture can be extremely important to strategy implementation” Butler et al (1991) p. 23
To meet the future strategic requirements it could be suggested that for the best chance of getting the right people that the reliability and validity of the recruitment process is increased this is so that the organisation recruit the right people, first time to lessen costs. It would be up to the HR for “ensuring that appropriate selection methods are bringing in people with the requisite skills or potential, or regularly reviewing training programmes to ensure that training is in line with the strategic objectives” Kamoche (1996) p.222
Although, there is a “presumption that their (HR) recruitment will facilitate the achievement of organisational objectives” Thornhill et al (2001) p. 117 the organisation will presume that HR will recruit the right people whereas it takes time for an employee to show their true potential. If HR were to recruit employees to suit the organisational culture then it could add to anxiety that current workers may feel as they will fear even more for their security.
Bavey (2001) found that people who are unconsciously inclined to use maladaptive defences are more likely to resist organizational change and that people who use humour to cover their anxiety are less likely to resist organisational change. Sisson (1995) argues “that if personnel specialists are not there when the key decisions are taken then ‘personnel issues are almost inevitably condemned to second-order status’ and the personnel contribution is limited to ‘dealing with the implications of implementing such decisions” cited in Hall et al (1998) p.113 as change affects employees in many forms it is necessary for the senior HR to be there when the decisions are made.
If they are not present then they will not know how to deal with the impact of the change on employees and so will have to deal with the impacts later on in the process which would present excessive costs and time issues. “When implementing significant change, management needs to be aware of the ways that personal issues can impact on an employee’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours” Bovey (2001)
The main HR policies addressed in this essay are selection, training, rewards and development although the latter part of this essay examined how HR policies can be used to lessen the negative impacts that change can have on an organisation it is important to note that these policies will not be successful in every situation for example in some cases “Involving people may lead to greater uncertainty and instability as individuals or groups use the involvement process as a means of opposing change” Carnell (2003) p.256.
Also the change agents may not have full support of management as managers may be pursuing other activities involved in the process of change. Also “the labour market will impact on the form and intensity if resistance” Jermier (1994) p.97 if an organisation implements change when the economy is experiencing high levels of unemployment then the reactions of their employees could be less severe as they will more uncertain of their job, therefore it would be useful for the implement change when there is high unemployment in the market. In any organisation strategic change is going to present a number of obstacles which will be different in all organisations so what might work for one firm may hinder another.