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Managing change ‘a problem for HR departments’

Managing change 'a problem for HR departments'

Managing change is a particular problem for HR departments, according to a survey of 1,800 managers by the Roffey Park Institute.

Respondents reported being overwhelmed by their responsibilities for managing change and finding it difficult to achieve the desired results, HR Magazine reports. Some 77 per cent of HR professionals said managing change is their top challenge but 37 per cent of HR managers said attempts to change corporate culture were unsuccessful.  

According to head of research Dan Lucy, HR directors were trying to introduce a system that did not "fit" their organisation.

"There is a desire for a performance-driven culture and somehow that translates into the introduction of a new kind of performance management system that is box-ticky or bureaucratic," he said. "It doesn't adequately deal with management capabilities to manage performance effectively." 

Often, such unsatisfactory results can be attributed to the fact that change is imposed by external factors a new CEO or financial challenges.

Some 59 per cent of HR professionals believe the function is "too reactive" to be effective. Just 23 per cent of managers seek HR departments' advice on strategic issues such as employee engagement and only 28 per cent believed HR added value to the business. 

Establishing links between people management and business results is another major challenge for HR professionals – cited as such by 70 per cent of HR managers. Many wish to develop greater analytical abilities and to better handle data and metrics to prove the case for change.

Influencing senior managers was cited as a key task by 69 per cent of respondents. According to senior consultant Alex Swarbrick, this trend sees HR taking more of a "change-architect" role.

Mr Swarbrick said a major problem faced by HR departments is that managing change prevents them from focussing on wider, strategic issues – and managers tend to base their views of HR on these latter business aspects.

Recruiting and retaining talented HR professionals was the only area given an increase in predicted importance by survey respondents.