Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Importance of Communication and Change Management Strategies

Competency-based human resource management is almost always implemented as part of a larger framework for change aimed at aligning and integrating human resource management processes and initiatives in support of the vision, mission and mandate of the organization.  It is important, therefore, to communicate the importance and benefits of the competency initiative to all stakeholders and to engage them in a way that will ensure the long-term success of the change initiative.   

The following “best practice” features are typically incorporated in the CBM project plan.

 Communication Strategy
Throughout every stage it is important to communicate the goals, purpose, benefits and expected outcomes of the initiative for all stakeholders.  This can be done through processes and tools specifically designed for this purpose (e.g., employee communiqu├ęs; employee orientation sessions; newsletters; e-mails; web-based information; etc.) as well as through the ongoing processes that are part of the overall project plan (e.g., in competency profiling focus groups, communicate the goals and purpose of the profiles as well as the benefits to employees and the organization).

 A Strategy of Involvement
The strategy for competency profile development and implementation should involve employees and management at all levels of the organization.  This creates buy-in and understanding for the profiles, tools and HR processes to be implemented.  If employees, managers and other significant stakeholders feel that they have had a “say” in the tools and processes that will apply to them, and understand the benefits for both them and the organization, there will be a higher chance for project success.  This strategy of involvement must at the same time be tempered with the understanding that employees and managers may not be readily available to participate due to heavy operational demands.

A Program of Implementation that Minimizes Resistance
Best practices and lessons learned from a variety of organizations indicate that to minimize resistance, and maximize the likelihood of successful implementation competency-based management, organizations should start with HR processes that are least threatening and most supportive of employees and managers (training/learning programs, career development) and move gradually to those that more directly impact employee performance reviews, compensation, promotion and advancement.

“Quick Wins” and Demonstration Projects
“Best practice” has also shown that it is important to demonstrate how the implementation of new methods and processes can be of benefit to employees, managers and the organization.  Very early in the project it will be necessary to identify high need areas and to develop and implement competency-based solutions to meet these needs.  It is best to choose organizational areas where the leadership sees a compelling need and is willing to put the organizational resources into ensuring that the initiative will be successful.  Finally, it is important that the leadership and / or representatives for the demonstration projects are willing to champion these initiatives (things done well and lessons learned) in other parts of the organization.
  
 Continuous Improvement
It is important that a process of continuous improvement be included in the overall plan.  The project plan therefore should be flexible and allow for ongoing evaluation and improvement as the project unfolds.

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