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Janine Milne

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In a Nutshell: Five tips to foster a change-friendly culture


A recent study conducted by IT product and services vendor Fujitsu confirmed what many have long suspected:

Just over two thirds of the employers questioned believed that they were failing to keep up with the growing pace of change – despite all of the financial risks that such a scenario generates.

But what is it that makes organisations able to change or not, and how big a role do HR professionals play in helping them to do so? Ella Bennett, Fujitsu Services’ HR director for the UK and Ireland, tells HRZone how she has attempted to tackle such issues:

1. Restructure for change

If the business is to respond to external change, it must get its own house in order first. For the HR department, this means ensuring that team structures and service delivery mechanisms are flexible enough to adapt and respond to shifting requirements.
To make this happen may mean restructuring the entire department, but the short-term pain can produce a great deal of long-term gain.

2. Ensure that there is a strong leadership team – on an on-going basis

Strong leadership is a vital ingredient for ensuring that the business is able to respond quickly to constant change. But it isn’t just about strong leadership at a given point in time – it’s about ensuring that it continues into the future too.

HR has a key role to play in identifying and nurturing tomorrow’s leaders, ensuring they have the right skills and that they, and the people they manage, are suitably engaged.

We find that having a dedicated head of talent management, who is responsible for enabling people with leadership potential to work directly with the current executive leadership team on special projects, is invaluable here.

3. Make certain that the right people are in the right roles

A critical component of so-called ‘business agility’ is ensuring that the right employees are in the right roles, doing the right things. But it is HR’s responsibility to make certain that this is the case on an on-going basis as what is “right” will inevitably change over time.
Therefore, it is vital that the HR function keeps its eye on the ball in order to understand how shifting business and market conditions will affect what is required.

But it also helps if you can make decisions locally. Too many companies, especially in the technology sector, are forced to refer strategic decisions to executive teams on a different continent. But being able to take local decisions means that you can react quickly and help people adapt to the changing needs of the whole business.

4. Adopt “lean” principles to introduce change
If new ways of working are to be maintained, people need to understand the reasons why change has been introduced and be given a mandate to help affect it.
We have adopted “lean” principles that take a “bottom-up” approach. This means that the people actually doing the job take responsibility for making small alterations to benefit the business.
They do not have to ask permission to do so. Instead, changes are introduced and judged on their own merits rather than first being proposed and assessed for possible impact. The idea is to trust people enough to help the business evolve in real time.
5. Foster innovation by ensuring that staff feel secure
Innovation can only really come to the fore if employees feel secure. Teams that are confident, well-managed and have job security will be able to plan for the longer-term and take the decisions required to respond to unexpected change. If you plan for the worst case scenario, people will come up with ideas to help carry the business through.

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