HR Departments World-over have Missed this Opportunity
will dispute the
fact that the biggest driver of change in businesses today is
information technology. And change impacts people. No one likes change
- people naturally and strongly resist change. But since change is
permanent, it creates stress and impacts people behaviour. People's
attitude is the greatest hindrance to change.
unlike popular belief, is not all technology. Since change is mainly IT-Driven and people resist change, IT has a very high people
component. A successful IT implementer has to be a people expert as
much as a technology expert.
People need support to cope with rapid IT-Driven change. IT departments may not be equipped to give this kind of psychological support. Which other department in the company can be expected to best understand the human psychology of change and support them? Is it Finance?
Production? Obviously it is the HUMAN Resource department.
There is a big paradox in
businesses. When IT impacts so many employees and their behaviour, and
businesses have HR departments to look after everything concerning
employees, why is it that no one has thought of a role for HR in IT
implementations? HR itself has been blind to this possibility.
HR has not yet recognized an opportunity that information revolution
has given to it on a platter. There is a new role that HR can play in
this business world which is changing so rapidly on account of IT. HR
has to rediscover itself.
HR as a Catalyst for Change
HR has to discover its new role as a IT-Driven Change Agent. People psychology, organizational psychology, organization structure and authority structure - all of these are very important factors which impact the success and smoothness of change. And they are all clearly in the domain of HR. So why is HR having a blind eye to this golden opportunity?
IT guys are expected to drive
this change. Their solutions affect the lives and work-style of all
the people by changing work-proceses. Any change can be driven only by a person who has authority.
Can you imagine a lowly peon trying to bring about a change in
behaviour? Can a CEO do the job better? It is a no brainer to say that
CEO can best drive a change. Obviously, a person who wields the
authority is best suited to bring about a change in companies.
is another paradox - businesses are full of paradoxes. IT needs to
drive the change but has no authority. The affected parties resist
change and IT can do nothing about it. IT folks' life depends on the
success of projects or change implementations. But they cannot drive
change or they do not have the authority to push it through. The
affected parties (the actual users who are affected by change) think they
have nothing to lose if the project fails - they can blame it on IT
(although they do not know how much they lose in terms of efficiency).
But they can certainly save their skin and avoid the discomfort of
change. There is always a conscious desire to improve efficiencies, but
there are also these lurking subconscious desires to avoid change and save their skin
in case of failure. Subconscious desires always overpower conscious
HR has not yet
recognized an opportunity that information revolution has given to it
on a platter. There is a new role that HR can play in this business
world which is changing so rapidly on account of IT. HR has to
To make matters worse, technology is equally confusing
to most managers. "I just don't understand this technology" is a very
common phrase heard in offices. The CEO, who IT department can look
upon to assist in bringing about a change, is equally uncomfortable. Whereas
he is relatively at ease speaking to and befriending the HR manager, Finance
manager, production manager, etc., he keeps the IT manager at arm's
length as he does not understand anything of IT. He is not comfortable
talking to IT folks so he rarely befriends them. In such a situation,
politics flourishes, as parties involved in automation try to take
advantage of his ignorance. Since today's CEO is more comfortable
dealing with HR than with IT, HR has a great opportunity there to help
the CEO cope with this issue of managing IT Driven change.
has a great role to play. But HR has to first equip itself to play this
role. It needs to first understand the dynamics of this IT Driven
Change. They need to understand what exactly creates this stress and
confusion during IT Implementations. And learning this is not rocket science.
HR can easily embrace this new role of change catalyst and contribute to
the company's growth (see seminar).
IT folks can continue to be the change agents, and HR needs to take on
this new role of a change catalyst.
Update (July 2014)
I have now given a name to this special skill of managing IT-Driven Change. I call it Behavioral IT
HR folks can easily pick up Behavioral IT skills and contribute as Catalysts of IT-Driven Change.
You can google on Behavioral IT to know more - or click here.
Behavioral IT - The People Aspects of IT-Driven Change
Change Today is Mainly IT-Driven
CEO as a Leader of IT Driven Change
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