Brexit, the snap election and change management

Guest writer: Sarah Wilkinson, HR Consultant

In the past few weeks Article 50 has been triggered and Theresa May has recently called for a snap general election. Early parliamentary elections can be held as long as at least two thirds of all MPs are in favour. As the vast majority of MPs supported May’s decision, this has got me thinking about the importance of having the backing of your colleagues or workforce when you’re considering or implementing change.

A common problem is that people go into change blindly without understanding the consequences and as importantly, without communicating properly or frequently. Kurt Lewin, regarded as one of the modern pioneers of social and organisational psychology argues that not least, we should be discussing what might happen if we do not change, and therefore communicating the reasons for change is paramount. Indeed, Kim Gieske – HR Director for Planet Organic has given some tips for getting buy-in from senior members of staff, and the most important factor is communication. I have seen this in organisations I have worked for in the past where top-down communication is cited as one of the weakest areas of the business. This says that whilst the Board or the Executive team may have agreed on an agenda, strategy or objective, this needs to be communicated effectively to the rest of the organisation and with their legitimate support. One of the risks of not doing so is developing a ‘them and us’ culture and resistance to change.

We can also consider the topic of crisis management and how effective leaders can gain buy-in from their followers. Dr Tim Sparkes, Practice Lead & Occupational Psychologist at Hudson depicts how “A true leader must illustrate the ability to convince others that they’re the person to successfully steer the organisation through a crisis… Key to this are facets including persuasion, helpfulness (consideration for others’ problems) and motivation”.

HR can not only aid the change management process and ensure that people matters are considered throughout, but also offer Leadership Development programmes and expertise in working with both the Board/Executive members.

Finally, back-on the subject of Brexit, discussions are still ongoing about the effect that this will have on recruitment, staffing levels and an organisation’s ability to meet its objectives.  I’ll be attending a CIPD meeting on 27 April to discuss more about the impact of Brexit on HR and what the future of ‘Great HR’ looks like with the forthcoming challenges we face. I’ll follow up with Brexit part 2 after!

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