Getting In Front of the Change Train

The Huffington Post | Dec 11, 2009

Over the last several years, RBL partners and principals have led hundreds of HR Business Partner workshops with leading companies all over the world, helping HR leaders and professionals to reinvent their role, strategy and priorities for greater contribution to the business, and help them build the practical skills to perform as true business partners.

The common challenge? As in many other companies, the HR challenge is getting in front of decision-making and change planning. Too often, HR professionals find themselves chasing after a decision that has already been made by line managers without full consideration of the HR issues or implications. At such a point HR is stuck: either the function is seen as bureaucratic, holding up action, or it is viewed as a pair of hands without having the opportunity or courage to help shape the decision or execution requirements. Neither is a very good situation.

In these challenging times, for HR to be more relevant and increase its contribution, it must get in front of the change train. To do that, the best advice I know is from my mother, a retired NYC public school teacher: “The secret to teaching is to be two lesson plans ahead.”

What does that mean for HR? We think it has a number of specific implications.

1. Know the business as a business ally. In the book HR Competencies, we talk about the importance of having a strong knowledge of the business context, customers and competitors, how the company operates and how it makes money. Having this knowledge enables HR professionals to know what’s happening in the business and provides the background to recognize important business events that are likely to lead to change.

Discover what other implications this has for HR.