The past five years have seen a lot of change for the world’s companies, and it’s not likely to slow down any time soon. In fact, more than 70% of companies expect to undertake even more change management projects in the next three years than they are right now.
And yet the majority of CEOs (73%) expect their corporate HR teams to implement change faster than they did three years ago. While this may sound difficult enough, not only will HR teams have to do things more quickly, they’ll need to improve the most worrying statistic of all: that right now only 34% of organizational restructuring initiatives are a clear success, according to CEB data.
All in all, change is harder to manage than in the past, and it often falls to HR to manage it. And in Asian business regions, where M&A deals are still being cut faster than elsewhere in the world, there are even more reorganizations, change leadership, and restructuring, going on than elsewhere.
Process Only Gets you So Far
There’s a good reason for heads of HR and their teams being frequently asked to manage big change initiatives, as firms need their employees to quickly and effectively change how they work.
But, simply dictating decisions to them will only result in wasted time and effort. Instead of change coming from the top down, “open source change” uses people’s diverse skills, experience, and knowledge of the entire workforce to plan and implement change. Open source change involves a co-created strategy that incorporates thinking from all levels, employee ownership of change implementation planning, and communications that focus on talking instead of telling.
Three Steps for HR Leaders in Asia
Shifting from top down to open source change can be a big cultural adjustment. The first step is to help managers prepare their staff. HR leaders should do three things.
Shift from closed to inclusive decision-making: Train senior leaders on how and when they should include employees more in decision-making, and guide managers on how to make inclusive decisions at a team level.
Let employees own implementation planning: Communicate the critical, non-negotiable outcomes necessary for the change to be successful, but allow employees to determine how they will achieve them.
Focus communications on talking, not telling: Provide questions that help managers think through how change looks in their context—do not simply provide change messages for them to repeat.
In Asia it’s even more important to balance this carefully, because staff will typically take a more cautious approach to asking questions or voicing disagreement than their Western counterparts and, for an open source approach to work, managers must make staff feel comfortable enough to share their opinion.
Finally, HR teams should help leaders understand that they shouldn’t simply try to make people happy. It’s an impossible task. Instead, they should communicate the clear goal that they are hoping to achieve with the change, and make sure their teams are prepared for what the change will entail – even if they’re not happy about it.