Following some careful transition planning practices can help ease the time of transformation for employees and facilitate change.
You’ve conducted thorough due diligence and selected the appropriate HRO vendor. You’ve completed careful, behind-the-scenes transition planning. But now you’ve got to announce the decision to the company and convince employees it’s the right thing to do. And you’re worried about the following consequences:
• HR managers may lose their jobs or be asked to move to a different role;
• Front-line managers may feel overwhelmed because you’re asking them to take on more work—work formerly done by HR; and
• Employees may worry about the privacy of their personal data stored in a new system that they know little or nothing about.
You can help employees understand and accept change, but it takes careful planning and execution. For HRO projects, change management should include:
• A change impact assessment as part of the new process design;
• Transition workshops for managers;
• Focused leadership alignment efforts; and
• Clear, frequent communication to all stakeholders.
Change Impact Assessment
For each new HR process you map, ask, “How is this different from what we’re doing today?” “Who will be impacted most?” and “How will it affect them?” There will likely be changes in processes, relationships, and responsibilities, so be thorough in capturing the major change impacts. Then, focus communication and training on those identified.
It’s very important to understand managers’ roles and responsibilities in your process maps. What skills will managers need in the future to perform new and/or additional tasks? Managers can be some of the most affected stakeholders in an HRO effort.
Engage managers in small group sessions first. During these manager transition workshops, reinforce the business case, provide specific process overviews, give them a sense of their new roles/responsibilities, and describe transition support available. While an HRO project may present difficulties for managers, transition workshops can help make them feel more prepared.
Executives typically spend a lot of time and energy to reach the HRO decision and to align around the go-forward plan. The same commitment is required of the remaining organizational leaders (both HR and non-HR), but they need time and information to do so.
Leadership alignment should occur in waves during an HRO project and be timed carefully, starting with transition project leaders, then HR leaders, and finally business leaders.
Some things to consider in your efforts to align leaders:
• Ground them on the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the project;
• Give them specific tools to cascade project messages to their direct reports;
• Provide a regular venue (e.g., quarterly leadership summit meetings) where leaders know they will get the most current and accurate project information; and
• Create individualized leadership action plans. Help them plan their calendars to build in support activities.
For an effective HRO transition, you will need the cooperation and commitment of HR leaders. You’ll need them to be “change agents”—to help managers learn HR-related tasks and transition into new, more strategic roles themselves. If you spend time communicating openly with HR personnel, you’ll likely get their support.
Defining the retained HR function should be just one of your communication priorities during an HRO project. In addition, you should communicate change broadly to the company. Try these approaches:
• Time messages effectively, ramping up in frequency as “go live” approaches;
• Use a variety of channels; and
• Make messages relevant to the specific audience you’re targeting.
While these change management suggestions will not address all of your transition challenges, they should help you manage some of the most significant people-related impacts you’ll encounter in your transition to an HRO environment.