One of the most frustrating times of my career was when we were informed that the Human Resources function was ‘not working’ and had to do it a different way. Throw everything out and start again. Even the really effective stuff.
HR was being restructured, including all the roles, so now we were officially ‘at risk’ of redundancy. We knew this was coming, the organisation was in trouble, and we were considered as ‘overheads’.
The new structure was presented to us as a ‘fait accompli’, completed before we could query it. It was a bit of a surprise. This was HR and ‘Change’ was something we did.
The whole scenario made me feel sad. Sad about the wasted opportunity to make things better and do the right thing by the organisation. If we had been involved, we could’ve helped design a structure that met the needs of the organisation in a much better way.
And I was struck by a sense of helplessness and powerlessness. Because when I tried to speak up and ask questions, I was told it was not my place to. I didn’t hold any power.
My colleagues felt the same. It was a tricky time. Lots of mistakes were made. And years later my former colleagues are forced to ride wave after wave of change, with new senior people joining and then initiating their new HR-Transformation Pet-Project.
Living with continuous change and uncertainty is difficult, as the last year has shown us. However, doing change to people is not the answer. It’s not the way to engage people, or make them feel safe, supported and that they belong. Having and using power over people does not foster inclusive cultures. It stifles creativity, innovation, productivity and has a real impact on your bottom line.
I believe that the people closest to the problem have the solution. And they are so sick of not being asked! They are fed up with leaders doing things to them without involving them. Change shouldn’t be top down.
I often wonder if we had been asked to help come up with a new way of structuring HR, if they gave us some time, space and the power to come up with our own strategy. If we had the opportunity to engage our stakeholders to ask them the right questions. If they let go of a little bit of their power, would we have found a better solution? One that was more effective, cheaper and implemented much quicker, without so much heartache and stress.
I ended up resigning after the 3rd restructuring attempt. I now work with leaders to help them re-distribute the power and create the space to help them have honest conversations with their people. Working together we then co-create solutions to your people problems.
How many good people have you lost because you didn’t include them?