Disruptive change as a catalyst for growth

A crisis forces us to take a hard look at how we’ve been doing so far and what we need to change. In 2008 it was mostly about managing cost, risk and compliance. COVID-19 forces us to think about a new normal for how we deliver our daily business. When such disruptive change shows up, you transform not just in the medium term by repositioning your business, but also by thinking of how to create long-term value. Today, as the world re-opens slowly, we start to see opportunities.

For HR, this is a call to action. HR needs to be ready to meet the evolving needs of the business. In the short to medium term, it’s about displaying the flexibility that is required to reposition and optimise the business. But for the long term, it means leading the strategic transformation to create value for tomorrow alongside other stakeholders. A crisis means HR needs to transform with the business.

It’s also about the journey

In my experience, the path to achieve transformation is just as critical to success as the end goal itself. According to McKinsey, about 70% of all transformations fail. Even if failure just means some objectives have not been met, this is still a high number.

More often than not, failure always comes back to the same reasons. The leadership came up with a great vision of success, but failed to align management on how it would be realised, and did not secure sufficient buy-in from the organisation. Or opted for a solution that does not achieve what it was intended for. Sometimes it’s just a matter of lacking skills or resource capacity.

The journey as motivation to embrace change

As you progress in your transformation, the momentum you create can become the motivation to change in itself. For your transformation to be successful, you need to have a strong plan that will enable your vision to come life throughout the organisation.

To help you out, I’ve listed what I believe to be the top 5 indicators of what will be a successful transformation.

#1 You have a bold and purposeful vision of success for the entire ecosystem

Any type of transformation has a profound impact on your organisation, so make it count. HR Transformation should start by thinking how to support the business to unlock its full potential by leveraging its entire ecosystem. To maximise their capabilities to achieve their purpose. And translate that into a holistic view that aims at long-term, high-value and enterprise-wide efficiency.

#2 You know where you stand

When you aim for the moon, you should know how far it is from where you’re standing. It’s the same thing for HR. Knowing your organisation, processes, technology and people before you start to transform not only helps you to understand the impact of the transformation, it also gives you a mandate to change. And it provides crucial evidence that this transformation is realistic and will succeed.

#3 You manage an inclusive transformation program

If you dream of people genuinely committing to your transformation aspirations, you need to include as many as you can, as soon as you can. Give people in your organisation a voice, give them the tools to contribute and turn them into transformation ambassadors. Empower your organisation to go beyond expectations.

#4 You keep all eyes on the prize

A transformation is a long journey. Even with agile methodologies, at some point, people have a tendency to focus on getting things done rather than doing the right things. Stay focussed, manage your scope tightly and fall back on measurable transformation targets to assess your progress. And should you change anything to your vision of success along the way, make sure it fits your purpose.

#5 You make success tangible and repetitive

A series of small wins always trumps one big win. Break your vision of success down in measurable milestones. Hitting regular targets will not just prove your transformation is achievable, it will also make it visible to the organisation. It keeps the momentum going and encourages people to move into the new direction.

What’s your opportunity going to be?

The only constant is change. In the recovery phase of the COVID-19 crisis, HR has a strategic role to play. As the dust settles, your business needs to leverage the opportunities and let your story of transformation become a catalyst for change and growth.

Working remotely, taking drastic measures to reduce contact, shifting production to products required to protect from the pandemic. Businesses and their workforce have already started to reposition themselves. Next up will be the creation of a new reality focused on delivering high long-term value.

How will you reinvent yourself? How will you unite your employees with a common purpose that leads to both well-being and performance? How will you unlock the potential of technology to maximise your organisation’s resilience? How will you offer the perspective of a humane and ethical approach in a world of uncertainty?

Don’t wait to start your journey. Be bold. Be thorough. Make your efforts count. And be successful.