Lead Change Management with your HR Strategy


Lead Change Management with your HR Strategy
by Lathasha Subban

In the words of Heraclitus, “Nothing is permanent, but change” and organisations today are experiencing immense change both internally and externally. The current socio-economic climate creates many avenues of change for organisations that are forced to adapt to new ways of functioning to meet the demands of that change. As a result of this we have witnessed companies evolve or dissolve through their change management strategies and from an organisation development and design perspective the Human Resource (HR) function plays a critical role in designing, implementing and evaluating change management strategies and interventions.

The HR Strategy itself has to include change management sensitisation, programmes and thinking at every step. As the company evolves with their business strategy so too does the HR strategy, and evolution is a change driver. By capitalising on the change in strategic direction, policies and processes, services/offerings, HR change management plans are critical for fruition of the business strategy.  Some may say that HR becomes the glue that holds the organisation and employees together during change, provided that HR has credibility through trust and transparency.

Heraclitus 535–475 BCE, pre-Socratic Greek philosopher

The SABPP has a strong focus on change management initiatives within the HR profession and encourages good practices when managing change. The professional body is currently in the process to launch its first Change Management Committee at their 4th Annual HR Standards and Research in Practice Conference on the 27-28 July 2016.  This will be preceded by the launch of South Africa’s first Change Management Standard developed by SABPP.  The SABPP definition of change incorporates the purpose and approach in supporting individuals/teams and organisations in managing change. It is also linked within their Organisation Development Standard.

The SABPP Professional Practice Standard on Change Management defines change management as follows:

“Change management is a purposeful, systematic approach to supporting individuals/teams/ organisations to arrive at a defined desired future state which involves changes to the work environment or to the work itself.”

The first step to understanding change in its many forms, is to identify it before it occurs. If potential  change will occur, then identification of the type of change is important. Once the change identified, an HR professional can foresee the potential impact and create solutions to manage them. Change is inevitable and an organisation must understand what will occur whether it is business ready or not. This then creates reliance on the HR portfolio to drive and manage change for the organisation and especially for the employees. What is critical is to ensure that it is included within the HR strategy, and then evolve the strategy as change occurs.

Once change is identified and impact analysis is complete, then adapt a good change model that is suitable for the organisation. This is the acid test for monitoring and evaluating the success of the change management strategy. Again include this within the HR strategy. The SABPP recently published a fact sheet on Change Management that displays numerous models and explains its adaptability which are available to HR professionals.  quote

Change ultimately affects all individuals within an organisation and it requires all individuals to participate, engage and implement it. There are always many theories and models that explain change, however once change starts happening it requires the “human touch and care” to manage it. Since HR is the custodian of people, change will normally sit under its responsibility. By understanding the impact of mismanaged changed, one should always be mindful of their role within a change management process. Make provision for change within your HR strategy as it shows projection of change understanding. Since change is inevitable, be a change champion rather than a barrier.

Look out for Bronwyn van der Westhuizen, ACMP Board Member, who will be presenting on the Change Management Standard at the SABPP 4th Annual HR Standards and Research in Practice Conference on the 27-28 July 2016. SABPP is dedicated in uplifting HR professionals in their deliverance in change management.


Lathasha Subban is Head: Knowledge & Innovation at the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP). 



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