Leading Enterprise Change by Developing & Leveraging HR Business Partners

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1 Leading Enterprise Change by Developing & Leveraging HR Business Partners B y Agni Kitsios, Kitsios Consulting, Inc. May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 1

2 Introduction How do you provide the necessary change management leadership in an organization experiencing substantial change with limited resources? Being creative and investigating all existing leverage points is crucial to success. This paper outlines an approach for leveraging Human Resource Business Partners (HRBP) to achieve successful and sustained change through capability development, coaching and tools. Background I recently had the privilege of working with a respected organization, in a consulting capacity, leading the change management effort for a large-scale, enterprise-wide implementation of a Business Process Outsourcing strategy. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is a business model that involves contracting out processes that are not unique, differentiating capabilities. While they don t distinguish an enterprise in the marketplace, these processes are still needed as a component of the company s overall operations. With BPO, the responsibility of performing these non-differentiating processes is contracted to a service provider who offers process expertise in that area. Although the client had outsourced IT processes in the past, this was the first time that a business process outsourcing strategy was implemented. Though BPO offers many benefits to organizations including simplifying processes, improving customer service levels and allowing the organization to focus on its fundamental competencies, it is nonetheless a controversial business practice. The impact to this organization was fairly pervasive and involved all operational functions including finance, along with both front-end and back-end business operations groups. The initial scope was North America with additional rollout to other areas in their global footprint. The client had a Change Management Center of Excellence (COE) function, but resources were limited. It was not feasible to provide change management expertise to each group implementing BPO. In addition, the Change Management COE was tasked with the enterprise-wide change strategy. Getting alignment and support from leaders throughout the organization was also a challenge. The goal was to influence leaders in considering BPO as a lever in the organization s operating model. A tool they could leverage for improved efficiency and performance. There was a need to collaborate with the Change Management COE and the BPO executive leaders to define and implement a successful and sustainable change strategy designed to overcome challenges, play to the company s strengths, and leverage existing resources. With those goals in mind, the strategy included leveraging the Human Resource Business Partners (HRBP) to provide change management leadership and services at the business unit level. After all, HRBPs have strong relationship with business leaders and understand the unique business and cultural implications at the local level. In addition, this was an exceptional opportunity to develop change management capability within the HRBP organization that could serve the company over the long-term. May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 2

3 Best Practices After working on this client initiative for 18 months, the following best practices were successfully implemented to meet goals. Embed change management practices at both the enterprise and local levels Either of the above strategies singularly applied is typically not very effective. The combination of the two, however, worked very well. At the enterprise level, the focus was to engage executive-level stakeholders to ensure organization-wide focus and success. In addition, the overall change strategy was also created at the enterprise level to ensure consistency in both application and in employee experience. At the local level, specific plans unique to the culture and business drivers of each area were defined and implemented. This approach ensured a move away from a one size fits all strategy often experienced when initiatives are rolled out from a COE. Local leaders and HRBPs had the opportunity to customize and implement what made sense for their business, while applying an overarching philosophy which created context and connection points for employees. Create and leverage a Change Management Playbook and tools for consistency Although flexibility for implementation at the local level is critical, it is important to leverage an overall approach, methodology and tools. The benefits of this approach include leveraging of scarce resources and expertise, along with providing a common language and consistency across the organization. To accomplish these goals, a unique change management playbook was created, specific to this initiative, and aligned to the BPO implementation methodology (see image below). The integration of the change strategy to the overall BPO methodology proved to be critical in creating an integrated view of the key activities and success factors for our stakeholders. This playbook identified important change activities and milestones along the project implementation timeline. Milestones were integrated into overall project plans. Supporting the playbook included a series of tools, templates and samples, unique to the change experienced in a BPO implementation environment. Change tools and processes were not only customized for the initiative, but also kept to the critical few for simplicity and ease of use. Rather than provide generic materials, samples were created to reflect the specific needs of the project and made available across the organization. Figure 1: High level Change Management Framework. May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 3

4 Define a strong training strategy Supporting the Change Management Playbook was a well-defined and comprehensive training strategy. Although the technical training was created and implemented at the local level, this enterprise training strategy focused on the soft skills needed for successful change. Included were training modules, both classroom-style and elearning, on topics covering Change Leadership, Culture, Influence and Stress Management among others. Unique learning needs for each audience were identified and distinct paths created for leaders and individual contributors, while specific modules applied to all audiences (see diagram below). Figure 2: Unique training approach aligned by role. Developing, sourcing, and offering these courses from the COE made sense and leveraged scarce resources. It also took the load off the HRBPs who would have to figure all this out for each business audience. Train, engage and coach HRBPs. As in many organizations the HRBP population at this client had varying degrees of change management experience and knowledge. Training HRBPs on the Change Management Playbook and related tools was critical to success. Initially this training was delivered to all HRBPs supporting the BPO initiatives as a group. However, as additional BPO transitions were initiated in various parts of the business, it was equally important to bring HRBPs new to BPO up to speed on the playbook. In addition to the initial training, ongoing engagement of the HRBP community proved to be imperative. This engagement was accomplished through a HRBP forum. Initially this was held every two weeks and then moved to monthly once there was critical mass of experience and the initiative was progressing well. The purpose of these forums was to: share pertinent information from the change management COE; hear back from HRBPs about what is working well and what changes are needed for success; and provide a medium for sharing best practices across the enterprise. This forum was essentially a multi-way, multipurpose communication and engagement mechanism between the Change Management COE and the HRBP population. Lastly, but certainly not least, was the coaching provided to HRBPs. Coaching was typically delivered one-on-one, although in certain situations in small group settings, as needed. This coaching support allowed opportunities to take a deeper dive on a specific issue or situation and co-create a customized solution for that area of the business. Topics ranged from customizing a tool to suit unique needs, to discussing strategies to engage leaders, to providing guidance in customizing training solutions, just to name a few. May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 4

5 Create opportunities to share best practices across the enterprise Best practice and knowledge sharing allows organizational members to learn from each other, and provide opportunities and dialog around problem solving. While technology is a key enabler, considering existing venues to leverage is also important to maximize focus and participation. In addition to the HRBP forums, project management and leadership meetings were leveraged to ensure that change management was always on the agenda. Time was spent on sharing of change management practices across the organization with business leaders and project managers. An intranet site was also created specifically for the BPO initiative, with access granted to business leaders, project managers, change leaders and HRBPs. The Change Management Playbook, tools, training materials and communication materials were made available on this site. In addition, folders for each business area were created, and key deliverables stored for access and cross-business sharing. For example, if a business leader or HRBP had a unique communication need, they could go to the site to access communication plans and sample communications from another area of the business further along the change curve. This type of knowledge sharing was extremely helpful. In addition to providing a strong starting point, at the very least, lessons learned in one area could be leveraged in another. One of the vital audiences for organizationwide support of any change initiative is senior business leaders. In addition to traditional communication mechanisms, some more innovative approaches to engage senior leaders were used. A video was created that showcased senior leaders discussing the business rationale for BPO (the burning platform), and addressed some of the anticipated or known concerns. A white paper was also written covering the BPO industry, rationale for using BPO within the client s specific industry, and experience to date for both the organization, and their competitors. The video and white paper were leveraged in several venues including training, communication and engagement events. They were used as introductory materials and as take a ways from key events. Rather than rely solely on communications coming from the center, a senior leader panel discussion was organized. The panel discussion was intended for senior leaders who had experience with BPO to share their journeys and their stories with other leaders across the enterprise. The panel was by invitation only, and was hugely successful in providing education and discussion opportunities for senior leaders in a closed, private setting. Feedback on the panel was extremely high based on a post-panel survey. Monitor progress and adjust as needed With a multi-phase, long-term change initiative, monitoring progress of the change and adjusting the approach as needed became essential. These goals were accomplished through change readiness surveys and focus groups, in addition to surveys administered after training events. While post-training surveys were conducted after all learning events, change readiness surveys were conducted at the local business unit level. The surveys gauged readiness in advance of the go live of each business process. Results were used to modify and May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 5

6 enhance communications, engagement and training efforts prior to actually cutting over. Since this initiative was repetitive in nature, results were also used to enhance change plans in advance of the next implementation. In addition to surveys, a series of focus groups was conducted across the company. Each focus group was unique to each business area, but involved employees at several career levels, fulfilling various roles. The objective of the focus groups was for the COE to gain perspective on successes, challenges and lessons learned. This invaluable feedback is currently driving the design and improvement efforts of the next iteration of this program at an organizationwide level. Lessons Learned Some of the significant learnings in implementing the best practices described in this white paper are summarized below. Ensure the right structure is in place We were lucky enough to have a strong managing structure, including the strategy office, a PMO, and project management support at the local business level. If these mechanisms are not intact, they must be addressed first, as they are key points to the model discussed in this paper. Provide feedback and coach Creating the change management methods and tools was not enough. A one-time training event was not enough. Ongoing coaching and feedback with the HRBP organization and the business leaders was critical to ongoing focus, skill development and follow-through. Keep methods, tools and samples simple As change management practitioners, we sometimes create very complex tools that are difficult to understand and administer by others. Our learning was that it is better to provide fewer and simpler tools to increase the likelihood that they will be used and have the intended benefit. Getting feedback from the HRBPs as to the simplicity and usability of the tools really helped us to create a relevant and valuable toolkit. Leverage enthusiasm and energy and create peer-to-peer engagement and support mechanisms As we began our journey, some HRBPs were more enthusiastic than others. This was influenced by their comfort level with change management competencies and tools, their availability to focus on this work (or lack thereof) and other factors. We found that leveraging the enthusiasm and energy of a few went a long way. Creating peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities also proved to be fundamental. It is easier to hear messages and lessons learned from peers who understand the demands of the HRBP role. Create opportunities for continuous improvement of processes, tools, and methods Through HRBP forums, survey results and focus group feedback, improvement opportunities became perfectly clear. Asking for and implementing strategies that enhance the experience not only created better processes and tools, but also built a strong, collaborative relationship between the COE and its constituents. Taking touch-points and course correcting as needed also enhanced organizational learning. May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 6

7 Conclusion Leveraging the HRBP structure as change management leaders is not a new concept. This is a model that many organizations have tried to implement with mixed success. The skill set needed to be a good change manager although overlapping with HR competencies, is non-the-less distinct. Adding to a complicating mix of factors, HRBPs are extremely busy with unexpected events that occur daily requiring a refocus of their attention and time. The concepts and approach presented in this paper, while not foolproof, have worked very well at this client organization. With some thoughtful planning and design, the HRBP network can be an excellent resource pool to provide, change management leadership and support to their business leaders. May 15 18, 2016 Dallas, Texas, USA 7

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